Wonder Woman. She’s a comic book hero Lynda Carter made into a glamorous icon in the 1970’s. As a girl, I loved her golden tiara and bracelets. Her lasso and red boots were pretty cool, too. I wanted to be her. And I was when I played dress up, and once for Halloween. I remember going to my mom’s closet and putting on her boots while I donned my Wonder Woman underwear. I felt invincible when I ran around my house! Wonder Woman epitimizes strength and beauty. She can do it all. I grew up thinking I could do it all, too, but once I became a mom, “doing it all” had a much different meaning. Here’s the story of my fall from Wonder Woman status.
March 31, 2012 was my last day of work. After a tearful goodbye to a job I loved, I was off to start a new adventure…stay-at-home mom. This choice wasn’t something I wanted to do; rather, it was something I had to do. While I knew staying at home wouldn’t be easy for me, I couldn’t take one more day of my two-year-old son, or myself, being sick.
In the two years my son spent in daycare, he was unhealthy more than he was healthy. I don’t just mean colds; those would have been a picnic compared to our experience. I mean chronic ear infections and everything else imaginable, including pneumonia and a meningitis scare – both of which landed him in the hospital for days. The scariest moment of our lives came when he suffered a febrile seizure due to a fever spike and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. I can’t put into words how scary that day was. I’m wiping away tears and fighting back a giant lump in my throat just sitting here writing about it. He was on medication all the time. I was sick, too. I battled chronic sinusitis and strep throat. Not only was I missing work to be home with him, I was missing work to get better myself. This also meant canceling things in our personal life like birthday parties and get-togethers. Undoubtedly, people talked and wondered how we could be sick so much. I don’t blame them. It does sound surreal, and it was. It was exhausting.
However, things were looking up after I had my tonsils removed and my son got tubes in his ears. That is until I suffered a devastating miscarriage. While I was recovering, I simultaneously came down with bronchitis and had the worst panic attack of my life. I really thought my body was shutting down and that I was going to die. How could I possibly endure more? It was then I realized that something had to give. I wanted to a take a leave of absence from work, but for reasons out of my control, that wasn’t going to happen. My husband and I talked endlessly about what to do and one weekend we decided, despite everything, that we would keep dealing with everything and move forward. But, when I pulled into work the Monday after that discussion, I broke down. I finally realized that I couldn’t do it all. I wasn’t Wonder Woman. I never felt so alone and defeated as I did that day. I called my husband sobbing and he told me to do what I needed to do, and that we would be fine. With that, I gathered myself, walked into work, and gave my two-week notice. I was devastated.
I knew I was not meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m no June Cleaver, but my son deserved to be healthy. The moment we took him out of daycare, he was healthy. It was miraculous. We quickly entered into a good routine. Life was easier. Fast-forward seven months when I found out I was pregnant again. It wasn’t until then I realized how depressed I had actually been. Being at home gives you time think and for a person like me that’s not a good thing. I realized my miscarriage was the cause. It took a toll on me I didn’t understand until I was faced with another pregnancy. I had spent my time at home thinking something was wrong with me. I was depressed I didn’t have my job anymore. My days were spent playing with a three-year-old, and I felt guilty I didn’t love every minute. And then, my depression turned to anxiety. I was afraid of my pregnancy. I worried about every milestone, every doctor appointment. My nine months were filled with panic attacks that didn’t disappear until over seven months ago when I came home with our beautiful and healthy baby girl.
Enter the life of a stay-at-home mom of two. My world turned upside down overnight. In the early days I remember thinking, “What did I do?” Everything was different. Now, I had to meet the needs of a newborn and a four-year-old simultaneously. There were days I prayed for a golden lasso and tiara. I’ve had some very epic experiences in the last few months and I don’t mean that in a positive way! My time at home was never meant to be two years, but here I am. Now, more than ever, I’m ready to go back to work. It’s time.
Wonder Woman is not real, and that’s okay. I can still have strength and beauty, but I can’t do it all. Wonder Woman implies perfection. If we were all perfect, what would be the point? I know I won’t be able to do it all, and this time, that will be the difference. But I can still go out and get some red boots, right?
Recently I found the stacks of prescriptions from when my son was sick. I don’t know why I saved them, but when I threw them away I cried. I cried tears of happiness that my son was healthy. I cried tears of glee that I don’t live at the doctor’s office and pharmacy anymore. I cried because I made a decision that made my son’s life better. That was the first TRULY selfless thing I had ever done in my life. The real definition of mom is not Wonder Woman. It’s a selfless person who does her best to make life better for her children. What could be more glamorous than that?