Frauen können alles

Women can do anything

Says Franziska Giffey, our German Minister of Family Affairs. For several months now, we have been proving it once again. Not to mention private households. We women handle it.

How do we cope with Fear Reading Women can do anything 5 minutes Next Overcoming crises

Women can do anything. Says Franziska Giffey, our German Minister of Family Affairs. For several months now, we have been proving it once again, be it in hospitals, schools or kindergartens, nursing homes and in retail business, where 80% of the workforce are women. Not to mention private households, where 90% of housework, childcare and all other daily home duties are taken care of by women. We women handle it. We are the ones keeping the shop running for the sole reason because we can.

But do we really want to ?!

Sure, we know we are strong, resilient, versatile and, thus, universally applicable - but is it such a good thing? Is this a desirable situation for us? At some point, I suddenly decided I just couldn't do certain things anymore. From one day to the other – it hit me! My talent had left me. I had been good at plumbing, screwing, hammering; I was able to write competent complaints about incorrect electricity bills, remember all appointments of my family members, settle disputes and renovate the apartment. But somewhere along the line, I felt I just couldn't handle these never-ending tasks anymore. For example, rearranging the furniture and lugging heavy grocery bags, ironing men's shirts, sewing fallen-off buttons and correcting homework: Wham – I couldn’t do it anymore! I was through, finished. Gone were my terrific multi-tasking skills – when I would jam my cell phone into my ear organizing something or other professionally with my colleague, at the same time stirring the saucepan with my right hand, holding my nagging four-year-old with my left and rocking the crying baby in the cradle with my foot - from one day to the next my giddy, dubious, so-called talent had vanished. All of a sudden I had become untalented – and what a relief it was!

To be honest, I had already learned my lesson a few years earlier. Quite a painful lesson, it was. Back then, in comparison to the DINKs (Double Income, No Kids), I was a single parent, freelance artist with two children, in short: Double Kids, No Income. Then my body made it very clear to me that with a herniated disc, tinitus and an irritable bowel syndrome, my all-round skills and claim to perfection must come to an end. Since then, I have gotten much better at understanding how far I could go without overloading myself and when it was time to say "No!". But we women, especially the mothers among us, are masters in self-exploitation. No sooner had a few years passed than I found myself again in the role of a do-it-all multi-talent. This time, though, it was not a herniated disc - after all, I had developed a somewhat regular Yoga exercising plan - it was glancing at my calendar that revealed to me, instead of practicing my Asanas daily, I had allowed myself to skip Yoga classes quite a lot more in favor of demanding "urgent errands."

Amazingly, my family's attitude suddenly changed. The children discovered that it was fun preparing dinner for all of us, my husband developed a certain satisfaction in tending to annoying daily tasks. And I, having more time, was definitely more relaxed, and that was reflected in my children and my husband.

On one hand, I still had to consider my needs and my limits on the other. My regular Yoga practice and daily meditation helped me in organizing without haste. And I learned to talk about it (yes, I had to learn to communicate!). It is often not easy for us women. After all, we have a centuries-old claim to perfection which, through decades of emancipation, education and, at best, good upbringing, does not immediately let us sense as being pares inter pares (equal among equals) and acting accordingly. And, for heaven’s sake, let’s be honest: Aren’t we all striving towards that feeling of how perfect we are ?!

But, there is a far better feeling: That of closing your eyes to disorder and chaos, taking a deep breath and smiling. To feeling who you are. Being in harmony with yourself.The world still keeps turning. We can demand it of ourselves to let go of our ability and to trust our fellow human beings to learn that ability. It has to do with courage and trust - we women are specialists for both. We can do anything - even letting go. Nothing helps me in that so much as my Yoga practice does.

Inhale. Exhale. Smile.
Text:Nirit Sommerfeld