Ladies and Gentlemen, family, friends, and foes, it is with heavy hearts that we gather here today to lay to rest one amazing individual. This woman could do all things. She was mighty and agile. Intelligent and tough. Wonder Woman dazzled us with her strength and courage, and most of all, her independence. It is with heavy hearts that we lay her to rest. Rest in Power, amazing lady.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Today I lay to rest my Wonder Woman persona. In her place is the real me. Less mighty, but still strong. Not as tough, but still intelligent. I still have strength and courage, but I no longer believe total independence will save the day, and I refuse to be everyone’s hero until I save myself.
In a way, you can say that self-quarantine broke me. But it is probably more accurate to say that it forced me to zero in on reality and put some things into focus.
First, my job really is sucking the life out of me. Second, I do not love it anymore, but it is somehow still a top priority. Third, sleep is essential. Fourth, I have way too much stuff in my house. Fifth, at least a quarter of it can go, and we would not notice. Sixth, if people make time for their priorities, then mine needs some tweaking. Seventh, I am still too hard on myself. Eighth, right now, my child needs nurturing, not school. Ninth, I am no longer capable of keeping a clean house. Tenth, my blog is my passion, but it has not been a priority because of the billions of other priorities in my life. Eleventh, a planner is useless if you keep misplacing it. (Whose life is this anyway?!) Twelfth, I am not a fountain of energy… Who knew? Thirteenth, silence is as vital to my life as breathing. Without it, I am not okay. Fourteenth, I know I am failing at being the comforting rock, hero-lady for my son because he has exclaimed, “Boy, you are grumpy,” no less than eight times since Wednesday.
I loved my Wonder Woman outfit. It was purple and silver. The thigh-high boots were sleek and sexy, yet completely kick ass. And my voice and pen had just as much power and magic as my punch. Sadly, the outfit has disintegrated.
I knew I was in trouble when I began to cringe at the lyrics of “I’m Every Woman.” You see, the song is one of many woman-centered empowering songs on my morning playlist. “I’m Every Woman” usually gets my blood pumping, preparing me to take on whatever a day at the office will throw at me.
Which was probably strike one.
I’m not in the office. I am at home trying to make the growling, whining, pained noises my kid is making seem normal as I give my weekly update. It does not help that he is mostly bouncing hair and brows in the background on my computer screen. I’m sure “Every Woman” has better control over her child.
What does the child want? To download yet another game on the tablet. He is in physical agony at the thought of waiting another fifteen minutes to ask me. What my coworkers cannot hear until I unmute to talk is his rapid-fire, “But mom, please? Why not? You said I could download after May 1st. I haven’t downloaded that much. Please? It’s not a booming game! And I’m hungry! Can I have some pink lemonade?”
And there went my fierce, take no shit, do it all reputation. It went up in flames right in front of my entire office. At work, I am a capable, loyal, dependable leader. At home, I can’t keep my kid quiet long enough to allow me to speak for five minutes.
It wasn’t always like this. However, just as Wonder Woman has died inside of me, the Gremlin is fighting cute little Gizmo for control inside of my child.
Strike two. The fatal injury.
I knew Wonder Woman was dying when I chose coloring over washing the dishes. Who needs clean dishes? I thought. I have a clean coffee cup, and there are paper plates left. We are good until the morning. Now, I am not even going to lie and say I don’t go to bed with dishes in the sink. However, usually, the reasoning is something important like work, blogging, sleep, Monster needed me, not coloring. The crazy thing is I did not give it a second thought, not as I colored for an hour before going to bed, and not when I woke up to make my coffee and started my day. Before self-quarantine (which will be called BSQ from now on), I would have stayed up, done the dishes, and waited to go to bed until the one-hour cycle was half over because of my fear of fires. Nope. None of that.
Strike three. ICU.
Wonder Woman was sent to the emergency room the day I emailed a coworker with a professionally frantic, “help me before I break state property” email. I had been working on a mini-project, a task really, for two weeks. Every time one part worked, I got stuck again. Finally, I had to ask for help. Me! I asked for help. It took a half-hour on WebEx for him to conclude that I never had full access to do any of the things I had been attempting to do!
My nature is to keep going until I find a solution. I research, test, and apply workarounds. It was not until I waved the white flag that I began to consider access issues. Now, if I were at the top of my game, if this was BSQ, I would have asked my coworker to audit my system access first. That is what I always do with new projects. Instead, I wasted two infuriating weeks doing something I never had the access or knowledge to complete on my own in the first place.
Strive four. Circling the drain.
I have been trying to relearn old lessons. Basically, that means I feel like I am missing something. So, I’m reading old journals and books, and meditating in an attempt to figure out what the universe is trying to tell me I am missing. The problem is, you often need peace and quiet for that kind of reflection. I have not had silence in months! I can’t take it! I ask, “What was I was saying?” inside my own head now because I am constantly being interrupted. One of the beings in my house is always yelling, barking, whining, talking loudly, or asking questions. Because I can’t finish a thought, I am finding it hard to write.
Work time is blending into family time, which is blending into couple-time, which is blending into writing time, which is blending into those quiet moments I have to myself before bed. Now my life is constant noise, so much so that I am annoyed by audiobooks and music. There is too much blah, blah, and it is making me insane. I feel like Wonder Woman would not buckle under the pressure of the noise, but it is turning me inside out.
Strike five. Pull the plug.
Believe it or not, the straw that broke the camel’s back was dog pee. My Shih Tzu Poodle is sixteen years old. He drinks water, then has to pee. Most of the time, he gives this shrill, drill-into-your-soul bark to let us know he needs to go out. This week, we’ve been playing Pee Roulette. While I can hear him go to the door, I linger and wait for the bark because I do not want to get him used to us getting up before he barks. He has to potty at all times of the day and night. During Roulette week, He has peed without barking twice this week, lighting up my entire living room. Literally, he has walked to the front door and urinated. Both times my son, who is capable of letting the dog out, was in the room with him. This dog is the reason we can’t keep a mat at the front door. The lack of mat is why the carpet is so dirty, no matter how often I vacuum, and the dirty carpet is where my child spends most of his time. Is any of this new? No. This has been my life with the old dog for at least eight months.
So, why did it wreck me?
I was blow-drying my hair, noticing a ton of split-ends despite the protective styles, and trying to finish a thought I had been trying to complete for over an hour. When Monster yelled, “Puffy peed,” the remainder of my patience for the day simply snapped and withered away. Like magic, a raving banshee took my place. I did not even know I had been body-snatched, but there I was, watching myself be a frazzled lunatic.
Time of death: 7:43 pm
In the span of a single breath, she was gone. No more Wonder Woman. The whip, bracelets, thigh-highs, and cape all turned to dust. I could no longer feel her superhuman strength radiate inside me. The sunbeam of divinity moved to another corner of the Earth. And all that was left was me. A regular old human being.
It was all very dramatic. Yet, it wasn’t. At that moment, I was simply done.
Then it clicked into place. I do not have to do it all, figure it out, be stoic, brave, and awesome, and be a beacon of light for everyone. I can just be me. I am enough. And when I am not, I have a ton of other people who can help me. I don’t have to be a superhero because I am a queen. A queen has people who will take care of her light work.
As a married woman, I should not have to do it all myself. I am tired of reading articles that report on the “full-time everything” that women have become long before, and definitely during self-quarantine. We need to normalize equity in the household. I do not want to feel empowered to do more work and be glorified for running myself into the ground by the end of each and every single night.
I renounce the Wonder Woman role! I am one woman. Just one. I move mountains, heal souls, raise a child, manage a team, I’m a lover and friend, a boss and an employee, but I cannot be everything. More importantly, I am but a mere mortal. I am extraordinary, but I am not a superhero. I refuse to continue to do more with less.
So here lay Wonder Woman, the Every Woman. A glorious and glamorous superhero. I raise my Boss Lady mug to you. You served the world well, and we will miss you. I will miss you.
Photo by Erika Wittlieb