“The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents
and the second half by our children.”
Sitting in a Korean Restaurant a few weeks ago with extended family, my brother-in-law starts talking about his Super Power. You know, like everyone talks about their Super Power with such nonchalance.
“Um, your what?” I interrupt.
“Super Power.” He says again, as if I was the only one in the world who didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. “Everyone has one,” he went on to say. “Your sister’s is that she can write in a perfectly straight line on unlined paper.”
“Oh really?” I asked, feigning incredulousness while smirking at her. My brother-in-law then chimed in that his Super Power is that he can taste and identify every ingredient in any food he’s eating. As we went around the table, everyone easily came up with their Super Powers –ability to remember names, knowing the lyrics to every 80s song ever written, the ability to make a four course meal using whatever random ingredients were found in the pantry. You know, basic Super Powers a la suburbia.
As we circled around the table to me I felt myself break out in a cold, embarrassed sweat. I had no Super Power. And I don’t know what was worse – not having a Super Power or not being cute and clever enough to keep up this game of quick wit at a trendy Philly restaurant! I was sitting there wracking my sleep deprived brain, nursing a newborn, and starving because even though I had a huge Hot Pot of Udon Noodles in front of me, my three other kids had eaten most everything out of it. A number of funky appetizers had been ordered but placed on the table out of reach of a mom sandwiched in between her agitated, non-verbal, severely disabled 13 year old, a tired 2 year old, a whiny three year old and a newborn nursing during the entire dinner because every time I took her off my boob she just wailed. All I needed was a screeching cat a top my head to complete the picture. Yet these things weren’t the worst part. The worst part was that I couldn’t think of what crappy Super Power I could possibly possess. I longed for invisibility. Or teleportation so I could teleport home where I could just do what I really wanted to do - go to sleep. I was tired, frustrated, tired, overwhelmed, tired and tired.
As all eyes turned on me, I shrugged off the question exclaiming “Well, I don’t think I have a Super Power.” My brother-in-law said with conviction; “EVERYone has a Super Power!” My sister offered “You get lost anywhere you go.” To that the table burst out laughing and all agreed that I was the Wonder Woman of getting lost. Lovely. “You get pregnant really easily!” someone else suggested. Super Fertile. Grrrreat. The whole ride home that evening I was deflated.
I awoke the next morning and the fog had lifted… Clarity had set in. I think that having five hours of uninterrupted sleep rejuvenated some brain cells. I called up my sister bursting with excitement.
“I think I know what my Super Power is!”
“Oh, you’re still on THAT??” she laughed.
“Yeah, and here’s what I came up with… I can do anything while I’m nursing…address envelopes, make guacamole, change a diaper, load the dishwasher … ANYthing.”
“Yeah, you ARE a one-armed wizard” she agreed, reflecting on my creative use of chopsticks while cradling a suckling baby at dinner last night.
“And you know what else?” I continued. “ I can function as a human being on a total of 10 hours of sleep over a 120 day period. I never get sick and even if I DO, I just keep on going. I don’t know how, it’s super human strength. I can get 4 kids up, completely dressed, fed, groomed, packed up and strapped in their car seats in 35 minutes flat (if I sacrifice my own shower of course). And, I can actually make a decent dinner, one armed, while nursing a baby in a sling, with 3 kids whining, complaining, and clutching my legs. And what’s more, I’m immune to all Kryptonite … poop, pee, boogers, projectile vomit… they ricochet off of me. I’ve held a christening party at my home for 40 people while suffering from mastitis and high fever. I finished writing my doctoral dissertation between the hours of 10:00 pm and 5:00 am for 2 weeks while nursing an 8-week-old baby at three hour increments. I can’t leap tall buildings in single bound, but I survive a trip to the supermarket with four children in tow pushing a shopping cart with a bum wheel, zero turn radius, 2 tons of groceries and 82 pounds of arguing kids and come out with everyone alive.
The best thing is, I am not the only one with these Super Powers. Millions of women share this super human ability.
“I finally know my Super Power.” I smile to myself. “I am a Mom.”