Yes You Can
I grew up surrounded by superwomen and I married a man who was raised by a superwoman. The thing about superwomen is that you never see on the outside that they are on the verge of insanity on the inside. If you follow my facebook status updates, or what I like to think of as my mini-blog, you may have caught the Andy quote update about his mom working the fields with a baby on her back and one in her belly. This statement, a story that almost seems legendary and one that I've heard often, stemmed from Andy's remarks that women of our generation just aren't as resilient as the women of ye olden times (aka, our own mothers). Our moms are awesome moms. They are incredibly strong, survived some difficult family situations, manage health concerns, volunteer for the community, hold down jobs, support their spouses, care for family in need, and raised sometimes unruly, and always needy, children. Not to mention, those children grew up to support themselves and raise families of their own, serve the community, and gain professional success. How did our moms do it?
As a child, I never thought about what my mom needed, how her day was at work, if she was tired after working all day, making us dinner, walking the dog, and then caring for my ailing grandmother. She was always there to listen, to support, and do what I asked of her whether it was washing my leotard for gymnastics, driving me 30 minutes to a friend's house, or sleeping in a camper in our driveway. I don't think once in my childhood I asked her, "Is there anything I can do for you?" And how many moms do hear that?
With these strong role models, I feel that I just can't reach the bar. For me, it seems that everyone wants more from me than I am able to offer. When I'm at work, I feel like I'm not giving enough to the girls, that I left my house a mess. I go to work everyday with some sort of food or dirt on my clothes and I have to put a towel down on the car seat because the car, cleaned bi-weekly, always seems disgustingly dirty. When I'm at home, I feel like I should be checking email and keeping up on all the things I'm not able to do during the 8.5 hours I'm in the office. I feel guilty that I work part-time because things don't get done when I'm not there which only adds more pressure when I am there. I sweat when the phone rings and it's one of the girls' nurse's office, asking me to come retrieve a puking child and I have to reschedule all of my meetings and pack up mid-work day. At 8 pm each night, I have an internal argument, do I fold laundry (it's like gremlins, multiplying with water), start that work project that I never have time to do in the office, or read a book- FOR PLEASURE? In the end, I often do none of the above. I fall asleep. I fall asleep because, ever since I was a kid, I awaken with the sun and sleep when it's dark.Oh, and because I'm exhausted.
I wish I could be the best mom, the best employee, the best friend, the best wife. Just like our supermoms. But- wait a minute. Now, that I think about it, I've seen those superwomen crack, even if just an itty bitty teeny weeny bit. There was that time in high school when mom cleaned all day and made us brownies and Jared picked them apart and walked around the house throwing the bits at mom. And she took the plate of brownies and threw them at him and they missed and hit the wall and she flipped the dining room table over chasing him. And what about Andy's mom telling me that she would sometimes hand the boys over to her husband so that she could go to the fabric store and look at pattern books just to get out of the house. Plus, I've heard about the letters she wrote to them about no longer being their mom, just their house keeper (Lord, I've drafted that letter in my head so many times.) Like I said, the secret to being a supermom is not exposing the fact that there is a fine line between all smiles for everyone and a straight jacket.
Over the weekend, my Supermom came to visit and we were driving from the grocery store and both girls were screaming in the backseat. I looked at Mom and said, "Calgon! Take me away!" Then a few days later my female co-worker told me she got a text from her friend that said the exact same thing. Remember that ad campaign? Damn, that was a a good one. Hit the nail right on the head. It's not just moms of today. It's moms of ye olden days, too. Don't we all just want 30 minutes of peace and quiet and warm, pretty smelling blue water to bring us back to a state of sanity? Don't we deserve that much whether or not we are superwomen?
At this point in life, I really don't care about being a superwoman. My daily goals include: getting Caroline on the bus with a smile on her face and pants on her legs; Charlotte getting to daycare with clothes on- shoes optional-; me getting to work without dirt or butter on my dress (recently started changing clothes at work.); working hard and staying employed; not crying more than once a day; remembering to eat, drink water, and pee as required; picking all children up on time and at the appropriate location; serving some sort of food (popcorn and cereal are ok); holding a dance party in the living room, which is a super fun and therapeutic activity; reading to the girls and getting them bathed and to bed before I fall asleep; hugging them as much as possible and telling them I love them more than anything else in the world; remembering that I am not super. I am just human.
I like to cheer myself up with little sayings that I write on the kitchen window with special crayons Caroline got for her birthday. I've had the serenity prayer, a reminder to close my eyes and think about the beach, and weekly running milestones. A mom friend came over this spring and commented on what a good idea this was. I visited her home during the summer and noticed one small line, in window crayon, above the kitchen sink. It said, Yes You Can. Last night, I came home to more dog pee on the couch, screaming children, endless laundry, and unanswered work emails. I was all alone (as I often am with a traveling/meeting attending husband) and I felt overwhelmed. I said out loud to whoever would listen (aka nobody- kids were under table playing house and dog was eating toy in Char's room), "I can't do this. I. Can't. Do. This." I then got out my window markers and walked myself to the kitchen window and I wrote YES YOU CAN.