The following list may sound familiar to all of you working moms out there (although the stay-at-home moms will surely identify with most of these as well).
We work our butts off in the office, no matter what it is we do, and when our work attire comes off, there’s a whole new monster to contend with.
Whether you’re a physician, like me, or in a different field altogether, you will probably relate to, and possibly feel the urge to maniacally laugh at, the similarities of our struggle. Teacher, board member, executive business woman, sales representative, coach- no matter what it is you do, the struggle exists and the struggle is real.
Here’s How the Transition Goes Down
At the end of my workday, in a scene eerily similar to Clark Kent’s sneaky character change- into Superman, of course- inside the infamous phone booth, I pull off my own long, white coat, and transform into regular me. Regular, Real Me.
Did you know that’s my superhero alter ego? I bet it’s yours, too!
Regular, Real Me.
Except that, unlike Kent, I’m not in disguise. Why should I be? I wear my title right there on my sleeve, proudly, and with all of the emotional baggage that comes with it. Because, after all, I think even Superman himself would agree- there is no need to hide.
Because kudos should always be welcomed when you’ve achieved superhero status.
Cue my- no, our- super hero again: Regular, Real Me.
That end-of-the-day defining moment of transformation may differ amongst us all. For me, it’s shedding the white coat, and hanging up my stethoscope. It marks the end of the first part of my day, and the beginning of the next.
That second part is where I transition into my alter ego. The not-everything-goes-my-way me that loses her cool way too much. The mommy-me. The life-is-too-short-to-pretend-like-everything’s-perfect me. She’s not the most glamorous superhero in town, but she gets it done.
I dare you to read the 20 Ways in Which I Rock Regular, Real Me and not identify with at least half!
I yell at my children when they make me mad. I can’t help it- they know just how to push my buttons. Even when I’m not around, they push buttons- like, literally, they push buttons on the phone to find me, the elevator door to find me, or other gadgets that have been recently invented that I know nothing about- anything that finds me gets pushed and, once again, no matter where I may be, they find me and I yell.
The cycle is vicious and the cycle is real.
I love to stop at garage sales along any given ride and pick up affordable, aka ‘vintage’, chachkies for my home, to liven things up. My husband and kids complain in unison, invariably, calling it trash, and so I sink back into my car seat and sulk, defeated.
They always seem to win, those villains, and I’ve resorted to a G rating in describing exactly how I feel about this situation, as it takes place.
When I make dinner, my kids complain. I’m usually breaking my back, standing over kitchen pots and pans, just to make a home-cooked meal. You heard it right- home-cooked! After slaving earlier that very day, in my office, with sick patients who coughed, gagged, or engaged in other medically-related natural phenomena, I’m actually cooking food. They never seem to care.
“Ugh! Not agaaaain!” The peanut gallery always jeers.
The kids’ homework is not always complete. I can’t even tell you which math unit they’re on at this very moment in time. My son’s been on the same ‘color team’ at his middle school for two consecutive years- I still don’t know the color! My head is filled with minutia and there’s just no extra space for these things. Do you ever feel that way? Too much occupied neurons, not enough room. That label they reserve for those ‘bad moms’ out there- oh yeah, slacker mom, I believe they call it- I’ve earned it, and with honors!
I try and hide this badge of honor, but the teachers already know..
I get in bad moods and need to take a self-imposed time out. To prophylactically avoid an adult tantrum.
I get an itch to utter, ‘serenity now’ under my breath, when my boys get so loud and rowdy that nothing can otherwise calm my nerves. My husband often finds himself #1 on the perpetrator list. See my post on Behind the Scenes of a Three Boy Household? Read it. Get it. I rest my case.
I leave the oven on overnight, by accident. “What? I thought I turned that off!” My head sinks low in shame.
I leave the keys in the ignition, engine running, and walk away from my car, only to return when I hear that annoying reminder beeps, as if the car is asking, “Are you stupid?”- in a twisted display of irony because the car was once my friend. It’s happening on a weekly basis now, and without fail. Again, my head hangs low.
I get sick. My kids get sick. My husband gets sick. The dreaded calling-out-sick at work never seems to materialize because.. well.. I’m just not allowed. The kids, on the other hand, will take off three consecutive days off for ‘sniffles’ because .. well, sniffles is apparently communicable and dangerous and they’re instructed to stay away, within at least a 1 mile radius of school property and for at least 24 hours after their last snot sighting.
If you dare send them back prematurely, you get that dreaded call from the school nurse implying you’ve broken some unspoken parenting law and are always guilty as charged.
I get tired by 6, in bed by 8, lights out at 10, max. Actually, I’d consider 10 a wild and crazy night. Friends pass by sometimes and think no one is home- and that we’re cool- but we’re obviously not.
I’m sleeping, and thus catching up on alter ego refueling needs- which makes me, still, so superhero cool!
I get upset when I rush to the nail place before work and their sign says, ‘open at 9’ and it’s already 9:30 and the lights have not even been turned on. Especially on the days when I stand in the rain and wait for any sign of life to appear. Like a dog waiting for his owner to show up, so dependent, so loyal. And then I realize I’ve officially lost it because the nail place has succeeded to upset this professional, working mom.
In my defense, I’ve always bitten my nails, and manicures prevent this doctor-inappropriate addiction. An additional fail to add to my alter ego’s long, long list- claws that need buffing at regular intervals.
I’m aging. Almost 40- yikes! I keep reminding myself that 50 is 40, and that makes me feel better.. but just for a minute, until I glance quickly in the mirror and see the 20 new gray hairs that have sprouted in the front of my forehead. Overnight. All conveniently in the same circular patch.
I’m always on the run. Or doing something. I usually skip meals. There’s no time for lunch! Someone asked the other day what I had for lunch. I laughed. I don’t have the time for breathing. My watch literally needs to remind me.
I’m chronically tired. My under-eye bags are so heavy I need to pay myself overage-charges. It’s a heavy load. Also, United Airlines called- they don’t think there’s enough room under there to stow those particularly heavy bags. I also get the strange feeling they don’t really like that I’m a doctor.
My wrinkles sag and my eyelids droop. Though I never needed it before, makeup is now a staple of my morning routine. I have a VIP membership to Sephora. I carry makeup around in my purse because it does wonders on the fly. Like Kent, I can run into a phone booth at any given moment and magically transform. The fact that phone booths are obsolete certainly dates both Superman and I, but that’s ok, superheroes age, too.
My freckles resemble children’s connect-the-dot puzzles. They played on me the other day, my kids. I try to hide them under my foundation, just to garner some well-earned respect at work, but they always shine through and team up with my curls. I’ve married a partner who doesn’t have them, and in an ironic twist of fate, still passed them on to my kids. One has already declared his dislike of the pigment, and my alter ego knows exactly what he means.
They make him look more like me, less like his dad. Oh, the horror!
My curly hair frizzes at the drop of a hat. I can’t even wear one because it normally doesn’t fit on my head. The amount of hair is just insane. The hair salon needs to book me for half the day, just to accommodate the craziness. True story.
I use hair-salon-time to catch up on necessary napping. You know those mommies that use it to stay on top of the latest news, trends, and goings-on? The ones that yap away with their stylist and feel alive when they’re in that zone? That’s absolutely not me. My alter ego is a hair salon dud. My eyes start to close the minute I’m shown to my seat, as I try and recoup just some- whatever amount I possibly can- of that enviable energizer-self from days waaaay back, before children. Before I became this snoozing superhero.
I don’t exercise enough. I tell my patients to, sure, but I’m lucky if I get a workout in. Then I complain about my belly flab. How’d that get there?! I’m waiting for the day the patients turn it back on me in a headline-worthy newsflash.
“Doctor Asking Patients to Exercise Secretly Caught Napping at the Gym.” Yes, I’d nap there, too.
I get angry and my kids don’t like me. It lasts a while, sometimes the day. But they always seem to wake up and forget.
I daydream. Sometimes it’s about the life I would have lived without all the beautiful things I have going for me now. But when that happens, I wake up in a sweat, because I realize..
Just how much I’m thankful for in this life that I have. My life as:
Regular, Real Me.
On this Mother’s Day, I’d like to take a minute to also thank Regular, Real You, just some of the mommies amongst you who are superheroes just like me.