In 2010 I attended a hybrid online RN program. I was also working 40 hours a week as an LPN and was the breadwinner in our home. I was a wife, but no kids yet. I was a Sunday school teacher (as was Chris) and we both helped with Youth Group. It was a year of crazy stress. I missed out on almost all social time with friends which at 24 is pretty strange. I missed some family things for studying or clinicals. I missed weddings due to school. I stress ate my way into an extra 20 pounds. During this year the clinic I worked at restructured some things as well, adding to my stress. Chris had work but his hours were inconsistent so I was nagging him to find something else so the income would be steady. This was straining our marriage. We weren’t really arguing but I was getting frustrated with the situation. I was starting to resent him and we had talked about it.
That November Chris found a full-time job with benefits. I was able to quit work and exclusively focus on school for the last six weeks. Without even trying as my stress level reduced, I lost ten pounds. I no longer had “all food in sight to mouth” sickness. Our marriage quickly bounced back to a healthier place as Chris was working steadily, my stress had dropped, and I was hired immediately out of RN school for Labor and Delivery.
At some point during the nightmarish year that was 2010, Chris bought me a Wonder Woman cape. True, neither one of us had been at our best yet he had been proud of me. He had seen and appreciated my hard work and all that I had been doing for us.
In July 2013 I happened to run across my cape randomly and had Chris take my picture in it. I captioned them: “Pretty sure he thinks I’m even more of a Wonder Woman now that I’m a mama, too”. Our daughter was 5 months old then and I thought I was doing a pretty great job with her. In hindsight I can say she was legitimately a laidback girl and we simply got lucky. It had nothing to do with parenting skills that she was happy, although we were of course loving and trying to do a good job.
Nowadays I get the Wonder Woman comments all the time and it rings false. I’m not the smiling woman I was in those photos. I’m a resilient woman who has managed to pull her bloodied body off the mat 1,000 times; I’ll give you that. Just like a boxer takes some permanent damage after a certain number of blows, well—I feel like I’m there. You can stitch up a deep laceration but there’s still going to be a scar. A bruise heals but you don’t forget the deep ache or the long process for it to fade.
Others see my strength. I see my tears cried in the quiet, when I’m alone, when my kids are in bed. Others see dignity and grace, I see how sometimes I’m still just barely making it… this week in particular. February 12th is the 4th anniversary of the day I began to miscarry my tiny, tiny, baby. February 14th is the 4th anniversary of the day that Dad’s fight with leukemia ended. This week is one of those incredibly painful ones. The strongest memories I carry this second week of February are not good ones. Trauma will do that to you. Trauma, if it does not shut down the memory completely, will give you some crazy vivid memories.
I digress. When I look at myself through the lens my beloved husband chose to view me through, not the harsh lens I so often choose for myself, things look different. Chris wouldn’t expect perfection out of me. The man never found me to be perfect but loved me anyway. I’ve never been capable of it. That’s a refreshing and encouraging thought to dwell on because perfection is attainable for no mere human being. Really if I were looking at any other woman on paper whose life were mine I’d be impressed with her too.
Single white female (Widowed)
Mother of two preschoolers
Works part time in a hospital OB dept, 12 hour shifts (at current job since 12/2010)
Full-time online BSN student (makes A’s and B’s)
Recently applied for nurse-midwife school
Co-leader of Southern Illinois Modern Widows Club
Attends church/small group Bible study
Tries to exercise regularly
“She” does sound impressive when I’m listing her attributes like it’s a resume and not thinking of “her” like she’s me. It’s silly but it’s true. Looking at all of this I think back on my years with Chris. He was impressed with me in 2010, which as I said, was a truly difficult year. We overcame it together. He was impressed with me in 2013 after I had overcome an unpleasant/difficult pregnancy and was being a loving mama. If he could see me now, I wonder what he would think. I do believe he would be proud of me and cheering me on.
More important than Chris’ opinion, though, is the opinion of my Heavenly Father. What does He think of me? Does he look on me with joy? Is He pleased with me? I do know that my Heavenly Father loves me unconditionally and that is reassuring. In the bad moments, even in the times when I have definitely gotten it wrong, I can turn to him. I can admit that I’ve screwed up royally, repent, and ask forgiveness. He will give it. He is willing to help me turn it around. He is a set of wide loving arms to fall into. In the Father’s arms or a father’s arms, one doesn’t need to be Wonder Woman. She can simply be the beloved daughter and that is enough.