Everyone told her she could have it all. Darned if they weren’t right.
Every morning, she wakes up an hour before her kids do. She showers, gets dressed, throws in a load of laundry, and tries to figure out what to make for dinner before the sun is up. She drinks a cup of lukewarm coffee and eats half a slice of toast before she wakes up the two little ones she needs to have to the bus by 8 a.m.
Then, she pours cereal into bowls and spends fifteen minutes attempting to persuade her second grader that sandals in October in Minnesota are a really bad idea. She watches the clock, knowing that everything she hopes to accomplish in the next twelve hours hinges on whether the kids are buckled into their car seats on time. And if she’s lucky, and nobody has a fever this morning, that’s exactly where they’ll be. She will work an eight hour day in an office, or mine pit, or coffee shop, or maybe she’ll spend the day teaching the children that other moms hustled to bus stops or nursing the sick back to health. Maybe she’ll try a case or design a building or care for an elderly person or stock shelves. If she can, she’ll take a half hour lunch break, wolfing down a sandwich behind the wheel of her car between stops to run errands.
At 5 p.m., she will leave the job she gets a paycheck for to return to the one she does for free. Her job title?
You choose. She goes by many names.
At home, she rummages through the hamper to find a pair of sweats to throw on and then heads to the kitchen to start dinner. The dog is scratching at the door to come in while two Littles with selective hearing argue in the next room about whether Dora the Explorer uses a GPS. After dinner, as she washes the dishes, she stares out the window adding things to her TO DO list… the dental appointments to make, the bills to pay, the errands to run.
She supervises two baths and searches in vain for a missing tennis shoe. She signs homework and vacuums the living room. She reads two bedtime stories and listens to bedtime prayers that include a fervent wish for soccer cleats and a special blessing for the cow who became the taco meat that went uneaten at dinner time. She prays for more patience, more time.
Going to the living room, she opens the mail and tries to focus on the newspaper. Her eyes begin to close. Fifteen minutes later, she falls asleep sitting straight up in her recliner while the journalists on CNN report the events of the day. An hour later, she is jolted awake by the sound of one of the people she loves most in the world throwing up.
And that’s when the fear creeps in. That’s when she panics.
She strips the bed and puts clean pajamas on her child. She has a lot to do tomorrow and now, those tasks will have to wait. She tries to remember how much sick leave she has left. She looks for a thermometer and scrounges up a can of ginger ale. She knows she will need a sitter but can’t think of anyone in her life who would welcome a 1 a.m. offer to be barfed on in the morning by a tiny person. She would cry, but that would take too much energy so instead, she sits on the edge of the bed and starts to explore her options. None of them are acceptable.
She has it all. The house, the kids, the job, and the list in her head, too. It is hers. Always hers.
She collapses into bed and stares into the dark, trying to recall a time when The List wasn’t her constant companion until five hours later when the alarm calls her back into active duty. The ticker tape in her head begins again… the things to do…the people to love. Yawning, she goes to the laundry room and pulls her blue cape with the large read S on it out of the dryer.
And another day in the life of Superwoman begins.
That’s my name for her, anyway.