You Are Not a Superhero
You are not a superhero.
And that’s okay.
No one has asked you to be. No one, that is except, maybe, you. (And perhaps, in some ways, society, but that’s another piece for another day.)
But I don’t blame you. I do it too. In fact, many of us do.
And what do mothers do?
Yes. Everything. EVERY. THING.
Or, at least, we try.
This isn’t to say that fathers and men don’t do a million worthwhile things too. They do, and I commend each and every one of them for it. But this piece isn’t about them.
This piece is about us: we women, we mothers, we female migraineurs whose jobs – at least some weird disproportional portion of them – is to care for these little and not-so-little creatures who we love and adore and whom drive us crazy.
This is about us and them, and our seemingly perpetual (but never possible) drive to do it all. Be it all. Have it all.
Let me repeat: You are not SuperWoman. I am not SuperWoman. We are not superheroes.
But, we try. Oh yes, we try. All of us. And yet, sometimes, it is we mama migraineurs who try the hardest. Why?
Because we feel insecure about our illness? Because we feel guiltyfor our illness? Because we feel inadequate because of our illness?
Yes. Yes to each. Yes to all.
Because we have days when we are sick, we try harder to be the best wife, best mother, best coworker, best friend, best boss we can be on the days when we’re well (or, if “well” is a distant memory we can barely recall, then somewhat “better”).
Because we have days when we can’t attend the school play or make the Halloween costumes, we try to buy the best presents, take the best vacations, cook the best dinners, host the best parties.
Because we have days when we feel we are “the worst,” we try and try and try to always, on every other day, be “the best.”
This is an impossible standard, and yet it is one we set for ourselves continually. Especially at times, like now – the beginning of the school year – when responsibilities and opportunities to take responsibility all pile on at once.
We get notices and emails asking for field trip volunteers, room mothers, and scout leaders. We get requests for help with bake sales and charity drives. Our kids come home asking to sign up for cheerleading, basketball, and dance, which means three practices a week, plus weekend events. And we want to say, “yes” to everything – yes to the kids, yes to the teachers, yes to the PTA – because we think that’s what “good” mothers do.
And when we, inevitably, have to say “no,” because we’ve learned to accept our limitations and we know we can’t plan that many activities that far ahead without disappointing someone and/or becoming seriously, seriously ill, we want to “make it up.” We want to do better. We want to try harder. We want, in short, to be SuperWoman.
This has to stop. Not only because it is impossible to achieve superhero status, but also because we are teaching our children – through our self-recriminations at failing to meet such an impossible standard – that nothing short of perfection is worthwhile.
Is that what we, as mothers, truly believe? Or do we, as I suspect, believe that we are all good enough and worthy of love, regardless of health status, ability, or daily achievement? If so, perhaps it is time to try and retire the cape for good. Saying “no” may be a good place to start.
Happy 2015-2016 school year, mama migraineurs!
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?