Being "out there" on the web, sharing a lot about what I do, and how I live my life, as well as meal ideas and frugal strategies comes with its down sides.
One of them is this notion that people have of me, that I'm some sort of Superwoman. If I had a 10 dollars for every time I was called Superwoman (or Supermom, or some other variation)... Can't say I'd be rich exactly, but my financial situation would be vastly improved... I get called that at least a few times a week.
And I really, really don't like it.
You may wonder why. Do I have a hard time accepting compliments?
The answer is no.
It's really not that.
I don't mind accepting compliments that are true. (I used to have a hard time with that, but I've learned to accept compliments.)
It's just that I am not Superwoman, and compliments like that, which aren't true irritate me. A lot.
I was doing some introspection about why exactly it bothers me so much when people view me as a Superwoman...
There's a few reasons why it bothers me.
First off, lately, there's been lots of posts on the blogosphere, on Facebook, etc... about the concept of "Fakebooking". Fakebooking, essentially, is when people (often parents) post some amazing, glamorous, enviable things on Facebook (and blogs) to give off the impression that they have a perfect life, are perfect parents, and everything runs smoothly for them all the time. To pretend that the negative things in their life, and the less amazing sides of parenting, don't happen, and to, in general, give off an impression of how amazing they and their life and their kids are.
I know someone who does that. It irritates me. Its like she is trying to make people jealous of her, and at the same time, make people feel bad that their life isn't as perfect as hers.
I wondered- am I "Fakebooking"? Am I not being honest about my life, just writing the "wonderful and amazing" things and not about when things go less than perfect, when I don't manage to do what I should be doing? Is that why people think I'm some sort of Superwoman? Because I am essentially presenting a false front online, that doesn't accurately reflect my reality? That if people saw what my life is like on a day to day basis, they wouldn't think I was some Superwoman? Is this potential false front that I am presenting making other people feel badly about themselves because they aren't managing to do what Penny is doing?
I do try not to Fakebook. I do try to be honest about my flaws and weaknesses and not just talk about how amazing everything is all the time, but is it really coming across that way?
On the other hand, I think the reason why I have a hard time with people calling me Superwoman is because lately, I have been feeling that I haven't been able to live up to the expectations I have of myself, that I'm falling short in many ways, whether it comes to health, frugality, taking care of the house, or parenting. This pregnancy hasn't been so easy on me (I'm at the tail end and I've pretty much been nauseous to at least some degree 80% of the time, among other complaints), and often I take shortcuts that I probably shouldn't, at the expense of my finances, or health of my family, etc... If I actually was physically unable to do things, that would be one thing, but sometimes it's just that "I don't feel like it" but if I pushed myself I would be able to do it...
I vacillate between berating myself for not doing what I should be doing, and making excuses why I should be even more lazy than I sometimes have been lately...
But when I hear people calling me Superwoman, it starts giving me guilt trips, that I can't live up to what I should be doing, that maybe I should be a Superwoman or at the very least, closer to that than what I currently am doing. And then when I feel like I simply can't, I start getting somewhat depressed, focusing on my failings instead of my accomplishments...
When people call me Superwoman, it makes me sometimes set the bar too high for myself, and get disappointed when I fail to do what I feel I should be doing...
Lastly (and this being the most minor reason), I think the reason why being called Superwoman irritates me is because I sometimes people like to pretend I'm some sort of being with super human powers, and consequently write off what I do as being only because "I'm special" and am able to do things that other people are not, and use it as an excuse as why they shouldn't try harder, why their doing x, y, or z that they shouldn't is totally fine, and they shouldn't try to improve, because "they're not Superwoman like Penny is".
I don't have super human powers that other people aren't granted with. When I do something challenging/admirable when it comes to frugality/parenting/green living/healthy eating, its because I am working hard on myself, pushing myself to my limits at times. Not because I am some special person who can do things that no one else can.
Everyone can always do more, and dismissing what other people do as "irrelevant to them" because "they're not Superwoman" doesn't help anyone...
So, lets be real here.
The honest to goodness truth.
I enjoy cooking. Some of the time. The rest of the time, I don't have any mental energy to even think up what to serve for my family for meals. I've served my family rice cakes with ketchup for supper. More than once. More than twice.... Rice cakes with butter being a step up from that, happens even more often. Scrambled eggs and/or hot dogs, or tuna fish with instant mashed potatoes being my next lazy supper. I probably serve scrambled eggs or hot dogs or tuna fish or cottage cheese, with instant mashed potatoes... at least twice or three times a week. Breakfast, lately, more often than not, has been cereal with milk.
Then there are times when I do feel like cooking. And I sometimes cook up a storm. But that's not because I'm necessarily working hard to do so. Its because I do get enjoyment from cooking. Its one of my hobbies to make delicious food, especially if I can do it prettily/cheaply/with what I have in the house already. And then I take pictures of those meals and post them on Facebook, and share the recipes on my blog. And I bet people think I'm making meals like that all the time. (I'm definitely NOT.)
And when I do cook and post the pictures and recipes, what I don't show is the incredible mess in my kitchen afterward, or my husband slaving away in the kitchen, cleaning up the huge mess, getting frustrated with how terribly I messed the place when he JUST spent hours cleaning it the night before, and now it once again looks like a bomb went off in it... all the while I'm sitting at the computer, basking in the compliments I'm getting on "what an amazing meal I made", while he's on his feet for hours cleaning up my messes...
And I don't often post about how, very frequently, in order to do all these "amazing things" in the kitchen, my kids get a little too ignored, that while they definitely most of the time are playing beautifully together, entertaining themselves, they sometimes are getting up to trouble, trashing their bedroom, my bedroom, etc... or are watching movies.
I don't post about my losing my temper with my kids, when I say or do parenting things that I regret...
And I don't post about when I am being super lazy and all I "accomplish" in a day is watching a few movies in a day and making dishes, because I simply don't feel like doing anything else....
And yes, there are days that go beautifully. And days that I am proud of myself. But you know what? That doesn't make me Superwoman. That makes me human, with my ups and downs. Just like everyone else.
The one thing is- I have my strengths. And I have my weaknesses. And I have certain things that come more easily to me, and certain things that come harder.
My strengths happen to be when it comes to thinking up money saving ideas (not even always carrying them through) and creating yummy foods in the kitchen. And I've been blessed with having 3 kids that are (most of the time) quite enjoyable for me to have around. On top of that, I also happen to be able to manage on less sleep than most people, so I have more hours of the day in which I am awake and able to do things. And I've been blessed with a husband who is a good sport, a good team player, and cleans up after my messes most of the time (even if he does often, understandably, get frustrated with me for him having to clean up my abnormally huge and frequent messes).
My weaknesses? Incredible laziness when it comes to things I don't want to do. (Like cleaning and most housework.) Being incredibly scatter brained, hard to stay focused, stay on schedule, follow a routine, etc...
So no, I'm not Superwoman.
The best I can say about myself is that I try to do the best with the tools and resources that I have. And that's all anyone can expect of themselves. To be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and try to use your strengths to your fullest potentials, and try to overcome your weaknesses. And when you don't succeed- which most people can't manage most of the time, you forgive yourself, and try again the next time.