I really don’t know when I first realized that it is not really normal to be restless about not being able to finish some 24 tasks from my 24-hours checklist. One thing I’m sure about is that this is certainly not an inherited condition.
I remember my parents to be two successful professionals who were simply mom and dad at home. Mom did cook. She actively participated in our education, and she also went to work. I don’t know whether she was aiming to be a perfect mother, a perfect wife, or a perfect teacher, or if she let go of a few of her dreams and aspirations to be able to manage regular things better. I don’t remember anymore if she missed any of my Parents-Teachers Meet (PTM) or skipped any of my school’s annual functions. I don’t remember her making up for the missed meetings or functions either, by buying me expensive gifts or giving into my illogical teenage demands.
So, yeah, this ‘superwoman syndrome’ is my own creation – certainly not passed on in heredity.
The superwoman syndrome
You might think, this ‘superwoman syndrome’ is a result of my huge career-related ambitions. But nah! I am not very ambitious professionally. I love my work, but I have deliberately not been a part of the cut-throat corporate politics that possibly could have landed me in a better designation than I am in, currently. Also, trust me, while many women around me won’t admit – the ‘superwoman syndrome’ is an issue all working millennial women are coping with at varying degrees, obviously. So, yeah, what brought us all here? Let’s get to that in some time.
You see, this syndrome manifests in different ways for different women, but for the sake of generalising it, let me give you a few simple, generic, almost-applicable-to-all examples.
The ‘perfect wife’ to be…
I was sitting at an informal ladies’ gathering, a bunch of women married to officers at different levels of seniority (you may think of it a family gathering of people from different age groups), when a woman in her 40s, a senior officer’s wife, passed a flying remark about how women shouldn’t bother their husbands with domestic stress.
She went on and on about how the poor husbands slog in office the entire day, and wish to see their wives all decked up and fresh when they come back home tired. And I immediately thought of how, very often, I travel back home after a 6-hours gruelling journey and a whole day’s work & meetings in a different city, my hair tied in a messy bun and my heart in a state to explode verbally at even the slightest amount of chaos at home. My poor husband, I thought – you see, women like me are not even close to becoming those perfect wives who always have a smile on their face. Sadly, I have not really seen any such woman around me, but according to madame-senior-officer-wife, being perfect is (hypothetically) possible!
…and the ‘imperfect wife’ in me
Not going too far from domestic responsibilities again, I don’t remember packing a ‘dabba’ for my husband even once in 3-years of my marriage. I am not a great cook. Both of us have very different tastes when it comes to food. So, I mostly don’t bother cooking at home.
But then, I have heard a few women going on and on about how they have kept their husband in control and interested in them by serving them 3-course meal of their choice every day. In control? Interested? I wonder if I missed out some home science lectures at college.
Ah, the joys of motherhood!
Then, the third and the most irritating one is the lecture on reproduction, fertility, and joys of motherhood. Trust me, I love kids. I also don’t have anything against motherhood. What I absolutely hate is, when other women poke their nose into my ovaries to sniff whether I am on pills or I am infertile. The very simple fact that sometimes biological and career clocks are not in sync, and some women like me make a choice to either push motherhood to a later time or forever is very difficult for self-proclaimed perfect women to comprehend.
Ah, and it doesn’t stop here, woman who have popped out kids but have to leave them at home when on business tours, are reprimanded too. How can one leave their kid for business! How often do they ask the men the same question?
At work, thankfully, gender discrimination is almost non-existent, at least where I work. Men and women have the same set of responsibilities. Then, why do millennial men not suffer from ‘superman syndrome’?
I relooked at my 24 tasks from my 24-hours checklist again to see where probably I am slacking. They are so many wishful tasks in my list, I wondered. While I rebuffed the idea of being able to cook, reproduce immediately, keep the laundry bag at home always empty, and have a smile pasted on my face permanently – somewhere these thoughts from fellow women made me feel I am not doing enough.
Time and again, the image of this superwoman with 6 hands cooking, cleaning, writing an email at the same time wakes me up from my dreams. You know, how in school, boys and girls were inspired to become all-rounders? Very much like that! Somehow, men defined the bro-code to be non-judgmental about another man’s capability of nurturing their home, but we, women, couldn’t unlearn the idea of becoming Mrs-be-it-all! While, none of us can practically be able to do it all, without some trade-offs, but we all wish that we could!