About a month before I gave birth to my second child, I took an online quiz. Which Superhero was I? I was dying to know. On Facebook, I had adopted a strict “no quiz” policy. But since I had found the Superhero quiz on a friend’s blog, the rule didn’t count.
I answered a series of questions and the results came back as I expected. I was, in fact, Wonder Woman. Clearly, I lacked Lynda Carter’s rock-hard body, tiara and teeny blue shorts covered in stars. But I remembered the summer of 1980, when I ran around barefoot sporting a pair of Wonder Woman Underoos. I took this as proof the test was highly credible.
Shortly after my son was born, my superpowers—fueled by adrenaline, 800 milligrams of ibuprofen and a daily dose of Starbucks—were intact. I felt ready to take on the challenge of mothering two children. I put on my cape, muscled through the sleep deprivation and attempted to resume life as normal. I reasoned that getting out of the house would be good for my three-year-old, and for me. So with my newborn in tow, we went to play dates, the museum, an indoor playground and the pool. We had lunch with friends and entertained visitors.
So maybe I overdid it, just a bit. Eventually, the Lasso of Truth reeled me in.
When my throat began to hurt, I ignored the symptoms. I kept going when I lost my voice. But when I started to look a little less like Wonder Woman and more like the corpse of Lynda Carter, a friend insisted on taking me to the doctor. The doctor concluded I had a viral infection and said I needed more rest. What? No caffeine patch? No miracle drug to instantly zap me back to health? I resisted the urge to laugh/cry in her face and agreed that she was probably right.
But how, I wondered, is it possible to give my children what they need? Will I ever learn how to love them and care for them and simultaneously take care of myself? When will I find time to work, date my husband, sleep and exercise? I had just gotten my groove back after having my first child. Was it possible to lose it that quickly?
I pondered these questions as I spent a quiet week at home with my kids. I traded my tiara for yoga pants and nursing tanks, and my three-year-old entertained himself with his cars and trains. I got better acquainted with the daily rhythms of my newborn. I even experienced a rare moment when the heavens opened up and both children napped at the same time.
So, while I may resemble Wonder Woman, I have resolved that my fantastic superpowers have limits. Maybe I’m doing my children more good by revealing my greatness, as well as my weakness, rather than perpetuating the fantasy that I can do it all. Because I can’t. At least not all at once.
And that is okay.