Mothers should not have to be Superwomen
“No one should have to be super in order to be human.”Teo You Yenn
Ms Teo was talking about parenting in her book, “This is what inequality looks like.” A really good read, please pick it up and it will adjust your biased lenses regarding class divide in Singapore.
Anyhow, I quoted this from her because she was referring to mothers as superwomen, especially those from lower income stratas. As much as we often laud mothers who do it all as superwomen, why should circumstances force women to be super? We are mere humans after all.
Women, with their mother’s instinct and heart for the family, are often the one taking care of most of the household affairs, which include children affairs. And in this day and age, they too are expected to step up and bring in the bacon as well. I know of mother friends who want to be stay at home mums but are dissuaded by their husband to work, be it for financial security or to maintain a certain standard of living. So somehow, the men’s burden to bring in bacon eased up while being transferred to the women’s shoulder. Superwomen emerge.
However, with the evolution of ideals and culture, women now has more personal ambitions than before. I quote this from a Netflix show: the female role has changed over the years, while the male role has not changed much. Women are expected to work, but men are not expected to help out at home. Those who do help out are applauded rather than expected. Thus, superwomen emerge.
“I salute you. I don’t know how you and so-and-so can stay at home without help to take care of a young one and housework.”
“I don’t know how other SAHMs handle two kids without (domestic) help.”
I wonder too. I’m here struggling with one, when people can give birth to the second one to have two under twos. How do they manage? Planning for a second one sent shudders down my spine for a long time. I cringe when I hear babies whine.
I look like I’m winging it to some mothers, but I also look at other mothers (especially social media profiles) and wonder why I am so lousy and can’t handle the demands of motherhood like others.
However, as I think about it, mothers should stop comparing and cut ourselves some slack. The unique mix of our individual circumstances and personalities of mother and child present us with different levels of difficulty when it comes to this motherhood game. It’s not really a level playing field. Dig further, this is life. We run our own race and become a better version of ourselves.
In trying to do it all in motherhood, I realised I have so much pride in me. Of thinking I can do it all with my own strength, of thinking I know it better than others, of thinking only I can do best. Then again, this is my “hardworking” virtue. Which I presume is more valued in the industrial age of my parents generation.
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.Proverbs 16:18-19
I inherited my dad do it all myself attitude instead of asking others for help. He would rather paint the house himself than spend money to get help. The time and effort saved to do other things might outweigh the money, but nope. That’s what happened to me when I was doing my cold pressed juice business. It was a worker and not a boss mentality, and hence the failed venture.
Then I inherited my mum’s hustling attitude. My mum had food posioning one day, and the following day when she’s feeling slightly better, she still wanted to cook. I will get lazy if I rest, she says. Time not hustling is time wasted.
Motherhood made me know myself better. It gives me a chance to unlearn and learn. Like, I’m thinking about all this, is because I think I need domestic help but abhorred it much. Firstly, I don’t like a stranger staying with me. Secondly, I don’t trust she can do a better job than me. Thirdly, I don’t really want to manage another set of emotions or human. Fourthly, I should push myself to do it all and not be weak. Other SAHMs can do it, so can I. But I want help so that I can be free to pursue my writing hobby. Yet with little income from such a hobby, it doesn’t seem to justify help.
One day, a verse in Proverbs 31 opened my eyes. Even that superwoman in Proverbs 31 needed help. She has maidservants. Plural, yo.
She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants.Proverbs 31:15