Saturday, December 28, 2013



"Very well
I believe I know you
Very well
Wish that you knew me, too
Very well
And I think I can deal with everything going through your head."
--Stevie Wonder "Superwoman/Where Were you When I Needed You."

After the summer of 2004, before I started to lose my grip on reality and when I began to sense that a relationship between me and MQ was not to be, this song was my theme song. Or rather, my theme song for how I felt about him.

For whatever reason, I felt like I knew him well, if he'd just let me tell him about himself. He would see that I knew him well, and he would come to love me for it. And together, we could deal with everything going through his head.

But then there was this cumbersome part of the lyric to reconcile, and that was about Mary wanting to be a superwoman.

The woman that I was early college, I wasn't into that lyric. What's wrong with Mary wanting to be a superwoman, I asked myself...and probably seriously asked my mother. She didn't give me an answer. For those who have never enjoyed this wonderful Stevie song, here is a sampling of not just the chorus:

"Mary wants to be a superwoman
But is that really in her head?
'Cause I just wanna live each day
And love her for what she is

"Mary wants to be another movie star
But is that really in her mind?
And all the things she wants to be
She needs to leave behind."

Then it launches into the "very well" part.

As my brother is want to say, I took offense to this lyric. Why does Mary have to leave behind the things she wants to do? Her dreams, her aspirations, just for this man? And he claims to know her very well, well enough to know what is best for her as if she doesn't.

"My woman wants to be a superwoman
And I just had to say goodbye
Because I can't spend all my hours
Start to cry."

And like that, it's over.

The lyrics were based on Stevie's relationship with his first wife who had aspirations to be a singer herself. I think he helped produce her first album or something, but it was splitsville from there.

Towards the end of that marriage, Stevie wrote "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" for a woman not his wife. Burn.

Just a little music trivia there.

I took offense and I told myself I never wanted to be with a man who wouldn't let me be a superwoman. Because I've always imagined myself being somewhat of a superwoman. That image has metamorphosed over time...

From my 6-year-old imaginings of a thinner, browner-skinned version of myself sporting bantu knots, a tank top and capri jeans singing "Yes and yes indeed, nobody's just a-right for me," while passing by interested young black men on either side of me in an elaborate fantasy music video daydream to my 21-year-old image of myself in black hijab and jilbab with my activist husband to my left and my young son on my hip, overlooking the landscape of the human rights march we had organized, I always imagine myself a superwoman.

That has got to be the longest sentence I've ever written.

These days, superwoman me is a bit nebulous at best. I see her as some kind of leader in medicine, leader in her community, loving wife and mother, champion of the underserved. I don't see my hair texture or color or whether or not its covered. I don't see the color of my husband or my babies. I don't see my size and I don't hear my voice and the specific of my aspirations I don't know, but I do know I want to be great.

But is that beyond what I am?

Maybe I don't have within me to be a leader. Maybe I'm too soft spoken and accommodating. I've certainly had time in my life to be as activist as I want to be, and I haven't done nearly what I could have done.

Maybe I want to be a superwoman, but that's not really what's in my head. Maybe I should just be satisfied with who I am and go on from there.

...I still take issue with someone telling you, for the sake of your relationship, to forsake your ambitions. Although, at least he left without giving an ultimatum.

The truth of the matter is that I am not the superwoman I saw myself being when I was younger and even among the things I'm relatively good at, I'm mediocre at best at them in the grand scheme of things. I'm relatively poorly read, I'm not that good of a writer, I am not a model Muslimah, and my body has swung on the pendulum back to the fat side of things. My hair is broken at the crown in spite of its growth, and I'm an okay family medicine resident. I'm an occasionally disappointing daughter (to my father) and a distant sister. I'm a hesitant significant other. I'm not the best at anything that I do.

And you know what, that's okay.

Maybe now I can focus on making real goals in my life and not idealized ones, just as I will focus on making a life with a real man in my life, and not an idealized one.

One who I do not know very well. One who I'm not sure I can deal with everything inside his head. And I won't be able to. But that doesn't preclude me from becoming part of his life.

And now I've come full circle.

1 comment:

  1. This post is like the final stage of grief: Acceptance.

    You are probably better at all those things that you think that you are, and a lot of people probably view you as a superwoman of sorts, but humble pie is something that is good to have in healthy servings.

    We all have images/goals for ourselves when we are younger that don't materialize. But, accepting that, and charting the life course we are meant to chart is sometimes hard to comes to terms with.

    Best wishes for a happy New Year!