The Wonder Woman Complex

7 November 2014

Dear friend,

This has been a tough week. On Monday I struggled into work and a caring colleague asked; What are you doing here, you need to take care of yourself too you know? She was right; of course, I didn't make it to the end of the day. This got me thinking, had I been struck with the Wonder Woman complex? 

The Wonder Woman complex is a relatively new phenomenon that has affected many strong, independent women. It is the belief that we can do it all on our own. But where does the Wonder Woman complex come from and why do so many women have it?

Is it a cultural influence? Part of the English stiff upper lip. 

One who has a stiff upper lip displays fortitude in the face of adversity, or exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion.

Surely this is a Victorian ideal long left behind like the use of leeches in medicine (oh wait, that has returned). Living in a mixed culture family has lead me to question my cultural beliefs. I can feel myself morphing into a new species borrowing traits from my home and adopted cultures when it suits. English restraint with a dose of Dutch forthrightness added in for good measure, a potent mixture! 

Is it a professional hazard? Every good teacher I know feels guilty when absent from work. We certainly don't work for the money we do it for the children and we don't want to let them down. Teachers know that our absence will inevitably put more pressure on our already stressed colleagues. However, isn’t there a touch of the wonder woman about this too? Let’s be honest here. Don’t we like to think that nobody knows our children or can care for our class like we can? 

Finally, today in order for families to survive financially women have to work.  Then begins the merry dance of balancing work and home life. Add to this a child with special needs and the routine gets more complicated. People are mostly empathetic but if one more person says to me, I don’t know how you do it, I might have to scream! A lot of women do not have the luxury of choice. 

I think we should begin a Real Woman revolution. Let's stop trying so hard and start enjoying more. Simple eh? Ok my house may not be as clean, my kids may have cookies instead of a healthy fruit snack and my birthday cake may not be homemade but… I have more time. My kids are happy and I am happier too. Shame it took me so long to realise!

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