Superwoman is often portrayed as the capable woman that can juggle a high powered career, rear beautiful emotionally balanced children, whip up meals that could rival a Michelin chef’s meals, maintain an immaculate home and make love to her partner with all the passion and lust of a B grade movie.
Her partner, on the other hand, is required to manage their career and occasionally see to the children. Seeing the children by playing with them and bathing them.
It hardly seems fair that as women we are meant to do all of the above including baking for those cake sales the school the children attend.
Anything less than superwoman activities society judges a woman harshly and a failure. The need for women to constantly smile and remain unruffled is a recipe for disaster.
The truth is that after giving birth whether natural or by caesarean, a woman is exhausted.
She carried around a whole person in her body for nine months. Nine months in which she had to endure cravings, mood swings, morning sickness, weight gain, sleeplessness and changes to her body no person willingly undertakes.
The labour was tiring and now comes the real challenge of having a stranger in your life that’s utterly dependent on you.
Three months allocated for maternity leave (often unpaid) is not enough time to recoup physically, mentally and emotionally.
The expectation of society on the new mom is unjust and unfair.
The truth is that you don’t have the energy to clean the house the way you did before the arrival of the new-born. It’s highly unlikely that you have the same sex drive you had before, and quickies become the norm rather than the exception. It takes a while to adjust to babies’ needs so long naps are out of the question and definitely trips to the hairdresser have to be arranged. Clothes don’t fit and you feel horrible and far from sexy.
You look at yourself in the mirror and don’t recognize this stranger staring back at you with the dark circles under her eyes and unkempt hair. Even if you have a supportive partner, the expectation is that you would cover 80% of parent and household duties.
The one thing that leaves when you have a family is a spur of moment activities. At least for a few years. You can’t decide to up and go and visit a friend to have coffee because the baby’s bag needs to be packed with everything they may need while you are out of the home excluding the kitchen sink. Often, when you decide to leave one item at home, Murphy’s law kicks in and it’s that item you will need.
You look at the house and it’s messy and dishes are piling and as you’re about to do it, the baby starts whining. Routine has to be established else you won’t have a moment to sleep.
The food you cook now turns to the instant variety because there is not enough time during the day to cook the meals you did before.
Then comes your partner who looks at you as if you’re on the menu that night. You are meant to be flattered and must consider yourself lucky (says so many) that your partner is so wonderful yet all you feel is irritated and dead tired. There’s simply no time for those long lovemaking sessions anymore. It is often a rush job because when you tried to savour the lovemaking, the baby started crying and needed to be fed and have a nappy change.
How do women do it? How do some women look glamorous and as if they have it all together when you see them?
The answer is simple, they don’t have it all together.
Your baby has been fed and is now asleep? Sleep with them. Start learning the art of napping. You need it.
The house seems a bit messy and needs a thorough clean? Tie baby to you if you have to clean and make sure it’s not a spring clean, you’re doing.
Your partner wants to get loving? Hopefully, you have napped and so you don’t feel as tired.
You need a long soak in the bath, switch off your phone, tell your partner or friend to occupy baby for an hour or two and take the time you need. Let them take the baby for a walk so you aren’t disturbed if the baby does cry.
The trick is not to sweat the small stuff and to reach out and ask for help. If you’re alone looking for a trusted day mother and leave the baby, there for a few hours.
Divide your day in a clinical manner as if you’re an outsider looking in and take time for yourself. You need it.
Finally, there is no Superwoman except in movies and once the movie is done those actors also need rest. Be kind to yourself and know that you’re not the first woman going through these changes.