Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lessons from My Bathroom

Before :(
After :)

After nearly three months the bathroom repairs are finally complete.  I almost wrote about them being done the first week of October but a freak “non-tropical storm” blew the siding they repaired off my house. This resulted in a waterfall of rain cascading down the inside of my bedroom window and onto the floor.  Since then they came out to repair it and the room is finished. Mold, mildew, wood rot, and German cockroach infestation are a thing of the past and the bathroom is all aglow with new bathroom area siding, drywall, concrete board, tile, counter top, mirror, and sink. (See blog entry The Day The Wall Fell In for full details of what it was like before the fix)  The total bill ended up being just shy of our quote.  After our $2,500 deductible, the insurance company barely gave us ¼ of what we needed. My dad was right-insurance company’s motto should be “We’re There…Until You Need Us!”

So how may you ask did we pay for such a HUGE unexpected expense on one income? Through God’s mercy!!! We prayed a lot, scrounged up the deposit, borrowed some from family, and then our amazing church family paid for the rest.  My thank you letter to our priest pretty much sums up the whole ordeal:

Dear Father Ward,
I just can’t express enough in words how much the people of St. Mark’s have blessed us.  When we found out that the bathroom repairs would total $5,900 we were shocked and overwhelmed.  After two major car repairs this summer our tiny nest egg was used up.  Since then we’ve been living paycheck to paycheck with only enough for our current bills and a bit left over for groceries.  How could we possibly pay for this newest expense? We made multiple attempts for loans from the bank, which were all denied.  We tried to sell our car but the bank misplaced the title attached to Mike’s bankruptcy that recently ended in July (they are still trying to track it down). My parents tried to help as much as they could, and we were very grateful.  Trendsetters Construction could start the work, but it wasn’t enough to finish.

We got a notice from the insurance company telling us they would only give us $ 1,372.59 and that they were canceling our policy effective in December. All seemed hopeless. Would we have to live with our walls open, filled with black mildew & mold, a hole where our toilet used to be? It is in these times that we feel our human limitations the most.  We were out of ideas and had nowhere to turn except to God.  We prayed for a miracle. Then you emailed.

You have no idea how much this provision has meant to our family.  Now we see light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to this trial being over.  St. Mark’s is truly a family parish, one that supports its members through ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and all walks of life.  I am so grateful to God that we found your little church four years ago and decided to stop by for mass one Sunday.   I am proud that my daughters will grow up knowing such a wonderful group of people.  May God bless you all and return similar blessings to each of you.
Sincerely, Jamie, Mike, Jenna, and Naomi

We had a miracle provision in an impossible situation. And there were many of these sprinkled throughout the whole episode.  Ivan, the most wonderful handy man ever (who happened to be Mindy’s arch nemesis for reasons beyond my comprehension) found us a mirror and a bathroom vanity that a rich person was throwing out after a remodel job.  I found a countertop on sale at Home Depot and a $20 sink at Habitat for Humanity.  Ivan was amazing and installed both at no charge. The entire process was quite the educational experience.  I took away from it a greater capacity for patience, endurance, flexibility, persistence (by combating the evils of insurance companies), and perseverance. But it wasn’t the bathroom remake process that was the hardest part for me.  The hardest lesson was learning to receive.

In the beginning, I vowed that Mike and I would provide for the repairs on our own even if it took months or years to make it happen. I even tried tutoring ungodly hours at to try and get some extra cash but after 30 students and only $141, Mike and I agreed I was wasting precious sleep. Once the walls were open and my family and I started getting sore throats and sinus infections from the mold inside, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait without doing harm to my loved ones.
This was the first time in my life that I couldn’t save myself through resourcefulness and brainstorming. It made me feel sick to my stomach. But why?  William Sloane Coffin once said, "Many of us overvalue autonomy, the strength to stand alone, the capacity to act independently. Far too few of us pay attention to the virtues of dependence and interdependence, and especially the capacity to be vulnerable." That was my issue.  I didn’t like receiving because I hated the feeling of vulnerability.

My parents are far from rich and I knew that they could use the money they had offered us.  At first I protested. How could I accept this? As an adult, aren’t I supposed to be self reliant? Doesn’t this just prove some sort of weakness?  Besides, I don’t like being in another person’s debt and I had no idea when I would be able to repay it.  “Once we get the title and sell our car, we can pay the money back, but I have NO idea when that will be.” But my mother gently said, “Would you please receive this as a gift?” Her gesture had little to do with how much money either of us have. She wanted to bless us pure and simple. It was the same with our church when Mike had explained to Father Ward and he responded, “Please, don’t worry about paying it back.  It’s not necessary.”
When I deposited the checks and made the last payment to Trendsetter’s, the overwhelming generosity left me teary-eyed.  My mom’s words rang out in my head, “Please, let us bless you with this.” In turning away their gifts I was blocking off their acts of kindness. I fought back the bubblings of guilt and replaced it with joyful acceptance. Upon fully receiving I realized that generosity is a two-way street. It’s an openness of heart that’s just as much about graciously receiving as it is about giving.
Someday from now, when Mike and I are in a better place financially, I plan to pay the kindness forward.  Until then we utilize our time, effort, and acts of kindness in place of money in an attempt to bless those around us.  After much contesting and phone fighting with Universal Property and Casualty Insurance I got them to reinstate us after showing them the completed work photos.  I have not received another dime toward the repair work and plan to continue to be a squeaky wheel until we get some oil.  Tonight I stand back in wonder that three months ago our bathroom was in such bad shape, Jenna referred to it as “The sick room.” Now, the bathroom looks so Better Homes and Gardens fancy I can hardly believe it is ours. Who would have thought it’d also be the center stage of such important life lessons?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Honesty of a 2 ½ Year Old

I remember being approximately 5 years old sitting on my mother’s lap in church one Sunday. My parents sang in the choir, so we were right beside the altar in front of the entire congregation.  I was happily kicking my feet, entertaining myself during a particularly long homily, when I felt my mom squeeze my hand to tell me to stop.  I looked up wrinkling my brow in question and she whispered back at me, “Jamie, sit still!” To this I casually grabbed the strap of my mom’s purse and held it up to her, “Here Mommy, you need a tic tac-you have stinky breath!” Fortunately for me, the microphone in the choir loft was off but it’s a wonder I survived to hear the priest’s blessing at dismissal.

Another time I was dressed in my Easter best.  An older lady in the congregation came up to me and made a fuss over my pretty dress and Easter bonnet.  “Was the Easter Bunny good to you?” My four year old mind desperately searched for something interesting to say. As I saw my father smiling and fast approaching me I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “My daddy goes Whoo-Whoo, when my mommy runs through the house with no clothes on.”

Upon hearing this, dad’s eyes grew three times their size and he made a direct bee-line in the opposite direction, pretending he had no association with me what so ever.  The elderly woman was very kind and desperately attempted not to laugh, “Oh? Is that so?” I nodded eagerly. It wasn’t like my mom was some nudist house streakier or anything.  It just happened that the bathroom was directly across the hall from their bedroom.  Mom’s running through the house was her simply darting from the bathroom into her room to get dressed.  But who can tell the difference when you are four?

Then there was that time I was in preschool and asked a old man in a wheel chair why he had no legs, or that other time I announced to a blind man he had a huge booger in his nose….well…you can imagine my mother’s desperate apologies. Children are known for their honesty.  It’s not their fault really. That wisdom filter that most mature adult’s posses is missing in their tiny little bodies.  My 2 ½ year old is no exception.  It is said we reap what we sew in life- thanks to Jenna I have experienced a bountiful harvest.  

One day when we were taking a walk and I was still pregnant with Naomi, Jenna and I had the following conversation:
Jenna: “Mommy, you got my baby sister in your tummy?” 
Me: “That's right, Jenna. You're gonna be a big sister. Soon we will have a baby girl. 
Jenna: “I'm a girl.”
Me: “You're right- you're a girl and mommy is a girl too.”
Jenna: “You're a big girl mommy-you got baby in your tummy & big titties. When I'm a big girl I have a baby and big titties too!” 

Since the birth of Naomi, Jenna has furthered her knowledge of lactation. A couple weeks ago she stood up in the middle of mass and scolded Naomi for crying, “Shhh! You have to be quiet!” and then turned to me exasperated, “Mommy I think Naomi needs some tittie milk!” If that wasn’t bad enough she told the lady at the animal shelter “Mommy doesn’t like to come in here because it stinks like cat poop!”  

But the most mortifying and honest Jenna moment happened just this week while grocery shopping.  I have Irritable Bowl Syndrome that causes me some discomfort at times.  There are days when…hmmm…let’s just say I have to wear some looser fitting pants and eat handfuls of prunes.  I was about half way through my shopping list when I realized that I had to go to the bathroom right then.  This was half a blessing because it had been a couple days but part nightmare because I had frozen food and two girls under three in my cart.  So I did my best not to make any sudden movements and speed walked to the nearest checkout. 
You know that expression silent but deadly? Try silent with mass extinction potential.  Like all graceful ladies that have made this particular social faux pas, I picked up a magazine, buried my face into the nearest recipe, and pretended nothing happened.  To my horror Jenna’s nose crinkled and her eyebrows furrowed.  “Dear God,” I silently prayed, “please don’t let her say anything out loud-I BEG YOU!” Then she starts to make sniffing motions in the air. “PLEASE, GOD!”
Jenna: “Mommy?”
Me silently panicking: “Here, look, it’s Elmo!” I show her the ad but she’s not interested.
Jenna: “Mommy? Something is stinky!”
Me: “Jenna, that’s not nice!”Jenna glances back suspiciously at Naomi in her car seat carrier, sniffs, and looks back at me.
Jenna: “No, Mommy, something smells very yucky! Like poopy!” Then she sniffs in my direction.
Me: “SHHH! Jenna, here- help mommy load the groceries on the belt!”
Jenna: “Mommy, you STINK! Grandma and daddy and Mindy and Naomi won’t want to be around you if you poopy in your pants!” “That’s yucky!”

If it is possible to die of embarrassment I would still be sprawled out on aisle 4.  Never have I been so mortified in all my life. Thankfully God showed some mercy by allowing the air to clear before I had to swipe my debit card and thank the cashier for my receipt- though I was too humiliated to look her in the eye. Perhaps this is all some divine preparation for the future.  One that I look forward to with great enthusiasm.  Some years from now Jenna’s two year old will be in church or in a store, and she will have some honest things to say about her too. Until then I hope Jenna’s filter kicks in really soon! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dog Pie

My Mother in law, Mama-V is an awesome cook.  She makes the most delicious things from filet mignon to Russian Easter Cheese. A while ago she made a yummy, all organic, deep dish apple pie. The crust was home made too- Betty Crocker would be proud! Mama & Papa-V had sampled some slices the day before and it was fantastic.  On that particular day, my brother in law, Nick, was visiting from college with his poodle/ schnauzer mix, Sandy.  Sandy has a good soul for a dog-high strung and a high bouncer at times-but a sweet personality overall. 

After enjoying one of Mama-V’s very delicious meals, Mama and Papa-V and Nick went out on the porch to enjoy cappuccinos and the breeze.  When it was time for dessert, Mama-V went inside and noticed that her pie was a touch deflated.  Perhaps it was the Florida humidity-but aside from the crust being slightly lower than before, and the two slices missing from a previous tasting, all other signs of apple pie perfection were present.  So she sliced three pieces and served them. 

It was about half way through their conversation and the slices of pie when Sandy came trotting around the pool and flopped herself at her master’s side coughing.  “What’s the matter girl?” “Is she ok, Nicky?” To this Sandy gagged twice and barfed a healthy pile of cinnamon and saliva coated apples at their feet.  “Yuck! That’s weird I wonder where…?” They must have come to the same realization simultaneously- forks instantly dropped and the remainder of the apple pie sadly found its way to the garbage pail.

I gather Sandy put her aerial Frisbee fetching skills to good use that day in her master-mind apple pie raid.  How impressive to gnaw away at the apples alone leaving the upper crust untouched-pure genius in fact. If she hadn’t made herself sick with her gorging she might have pulled it off too.  This story has become one of those fun family tales that we all laugh about now.  I know that whenever Nick and Sandy are visiting it is not safe to leave anything on the counters no matter how high they may be.  I thought I had learned my lesson through their experiences, but unfortunately not.

Recently it was my turn. I made a plum tart for desert at my birthday brunch but I accidently singed it in the process of serving orange vanilla pancakes and blueberry sausage.  Brunch ended and the tart remained on the table.  Nap time presented itself very shortly after our parents left, so Mike and I went to read stories and put our girls down for their naps.  Now I should have been wary of Mindy.  She had after all been circling Jenna’s booster seat like a shark waiting for the perfect moment to attack the bacon crumbles in her lap. Maybe it was the whimsy of the near perfect morning or the sleep that was quickly taking over me-but I forgot about our terrier and the tart, and fell fast asleep beside Naomi in her basinet.

When I woke up I noticed Mindy sitting on the carpet next to me, tail tucked between her legs, ears bent back, and some very suspicious looking crumbs hanging from her bottom lip… extremely bad signs. “Boy do you look guilty!” To this Mindy nervously thumped her tail faster and slunk even lower to the ground, pressing her ears flat against her head. I could just hear her squeaky high pitched thoughts, “Who, ME!? Why (cough) nothing!” “Ummm …(Cough) what makes you think that?” “You’re heading to the dining room? You don’t wanna go in there!” “Remember I’m cute?”  “Here rub my belly INSTEAD!” “NO WAAAAAIIIIITTTTT!!!!”

By the time I rounded the corner Mindy had stopped trying to throw herself at my feet and made a strait bee line under the bed.  I stared at the table. The evidence was irrefutable.  Several plum slices were gone and a Mindy mouth size portion of the tart’s crust was missing on one side.  “MINDY!!!” If that wasn’t enough, the crumb trail led from the top of the table to her favorite rug by the sliding glass door.  Mindy poked her head out from the bedroom doorway, tail wagging hopefully as I continued through my exasperation, “You didn’t even have the decency to clean up after yourself, did you?” To this she responded with a full retreat back under the bed.

My first instinct was to make a dog pie out of her.  But luckily for Mindy the plum tart was already pretty ruined before she did her deed, so her sentencing was light.  Mindy had to wait out the rest of the kitchen clean up without scrap treats, but by the end of the afternoon I gave in and let her know I had forgiven her by scratching the offered belly.

What is it about a dog that makes them so horribly annoying yet so stinking cute at the same moment? Like that time I came home and found Mindy was accidently stuck in the bathroom.  There she was yipping with joy as she struggled to continue balancing herself on top of our toilet paper cabinet, a half eaten cake of soap on the rug, and 3/4ths of a roll of Charmin draped across the room like streamers.  Love and Loathing all in one instant. It truly is a mystery.  No matter how much of a pain Mindy can be she is a part of our family and our household wouldn’t be the same without her…maybe a touch saner, but not the same.  But, the table reaching thing is a HUGE problem! We don’t have much space in this tiny house of ours and I can’t be guarding every particle of food every second of the day. My husband swears this is the “absolute last dog we will ever own!” Maybe next time we’ll get a tiny and very short Chihuahua.  At least the pies should be safe then. ;)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Learning to Love

Most of my childhood was wondrous-full of magic, joy, and adventure… then I started junior high school.  The mix of 6th through 9th grade transformed my world into a horrible reality of bullies, lost friendships, and lunch period spent at a table by myself. I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was to mix preteens ages 10 and 11 with 15 year olds, but let me tell you it was living hell. One boy used to endlessly torment me, slapping me aside the face each day by my locker, knocking my books from my hands, daring me to do something about it. Teachers walked by pretending not to notice until one day I had had enough and tore after the kid swearing that if I got a hold of him I’d kill him.  Fortunately for him, his shirt tore in my grasp and a teacher finally noticed that I was running in the hall. After that day he never bullied me again but socially, things didn't start to make a turn for the better until the new school was finally complete in time for my 9th grade year.

High school offered various social activities that allowed me to “belong.” I entered into the Honors program, joined Swing Choir & Concert Choir, the track and soccer teams, Students Working Against Tobacco, Students Against Drunk Driving, and Students With a Testimony (a pre-school bible study). From these groups I managed to find a handful of friends, but many times I still felt like an outcast. Different is never very popular when you are young and I suppose my tastes were far from those of my peers.  I collected antique books, listened to Celtic music, grew herb gardens, took botany as an elective, started stockpiling items for my future house, and adorned retro aprons as I practiced recipes in the kitchen.  My favorite television series was Tales from Avonlea, a turn of the century inspired show about a family on a farm in a Victorian town. I didn’t smoke, do drugs, curse, or drink and the idea of my friends having sex and risking teenage pregnancy and STDs just freaked me out. 

With high school ending, and the idea of a party university not at all appealing to me, I knew I would once again need to find a way to fit in. So during college I joined church choir, hiked, and white water rafted, boated, attended conferences, and online chatted. I continued to live at home and worked evenings after classes in the local library's children's department. I admit that growing up and staying in a small town has its limitations and with nearly every person I knew away at large universities I once again found it difficult to belong. 

One day, I was watching Grease, and it occurred to me that Sandy seemed to find happiness at the end of the film by totally transforming herself.  Could I find a way to belong if I did the same?  To my surprise shortly after, I got invited to an island party with a bunch of people from high school.  To be included was exciting but that soon faded. Urine filled breezes caught me in the face when some very drunk guys tried to see who could put out the campfire from the top of the pine trees.  I got eaten by mosquitoes and ended up holding people’s drinks all night because I was the only one they trusted not to put anything disgusting in them while they used the bathroom.  After this experience and two more like it, I decided Grease’s message was backwards and there was nothing wrong with being “Sandra Dee.”

So I switched tactics and seriously considered becoming Amish. After all, high school classmates had called me an Amish-wannabee.  As far as I could see, their lives seemed pretty awesome: best jams and baked goods in the WORLD, gorgeous homes, resourceful, and hardworking. But after researching it I discovered I would have to sever all ties with my family and well…that just wasn't ok with me.   

Then I went white water rafting and became inspired by this especially gorgeous guide who traveled the world on his motorcycle, lived in a Yurt, and explored the Amazon Rain forest for almost a year with remote natives. Meeting Casey made me want to try a bohemian lifestyle too.  I seriously considered joining an organic hippie commune and living off the land, making cheese from goats that we milked. When that month long brainstorm was over I longed for a wild world adventure backpacking it across Asia or South America. Or maybe I could get a teaching job in a remote village and educate native children in the mountains of Tibet. Backpacking it across a foreign country and riding elephants through the jungle sounded exciting.

My mom saw that her worst fears and (as I later found out) nightmares were starting to come true.  She knew that if I left for that dream I might be gone for good.  Instead she encouraged me to travel in short spirited adventures in American friendly countries. I ended up traveling all over the United States, England, and Italy.  Each trip brought with it its own adventures, independence, and slowly satisfied my hunger for wild world wanderings. 

Before I knew it, I found myself graduated from college and teaching.  I loved my job and truly felt like I was making a difference but at the end of the day I still felt there was a missing piece in me, something that made me less together than others my age. All my friends seemed to be getting married, buying homes, and settling down. There were no husband prospects in my life at that time but if I bought a place of my own I might feel more accomplished. So I saved and purchased a house.  For the first time I felt like an established adult... but the isolation of living alone quickly set in. I felt like a widow trying to adapt to the loss of a husband I never had.  I prayed that there would be someone, anyone out there that would validate my worth as a person and end my loneliness. 

Church single’s groups, Christian dating sites, and E- Harmony all resulted in failure to find THE ONE. What was my problem? Dating appeared to work for everyone but me. Why couldn't I find someone to love too? Someone who would love me for me.  It was after some serious soul searching and prayer that I realized I was looking in all the wrong places to find self contentment.  True happiness didn’t rely on whom I dated and if I was hoping that marriage would wash away all my problems I was seriously mistaken.  I wouldn't be happy because of the people I was friends with.  I wouldn't find happiness because of the parties I attended, where I traveled, rested my head at night, and especially not by changing myself into something I'm not. God loved me just the way I was. I was slowly learning that it was OK to be me, even if the popular culture of the world didn't think that was cool or correct. My prayers changed their focus. This time I prayed that God would help me learn to cast aside my world driven feelings of inadequacy and truly love myself as He did. 

When I completely gave up trying to change, embraced myself for who I was, and let God take care of the rest, I started to feel whole again. I resumed gardening workshops and joined The Rare Fruit and Nut Club in my area. I fully embraced my "nerdiness" and delighted in my science topic research, teaching myth buster lessons about porhyria while dressed in full vampire costume. I planted a garden and adopted a Chihuahua who curbed my loneliness and brought new energy to my home. Soon after, Michael re-entered my life.  Michael was and is such a good man and he and I shared so many of the same ideas, interests, and desires for our life. Within a year we were married and a couple months later we were ecstatic to discover we were going to be parents.

It’s astounding to wake up and realize that the things we had fought so desperately to acquire or experience aren't all that important any more.  My yearning for a wild world journey left the day my eldest daughter, Jenna, was born- instead my family became my ultimate adventure. In place  of Amazon boat rides, I anticipate first steps, first words, and dream of the women my girls will become one day.  

At times it is still uncomfortable to think back to those turbulent days in my adolescence when I was struggling to find myself. Just as dawn’s light overcomes the darkness, those memories slowly fade with the passing of each year.  I’d like to think that if I traveled back in time and showed Jamie 10 years ago what she’d have one day, her heart would be comforted. In my youth I was looking for a chance to belong, be myself, and be loved for it. But all along the missing piece I was so desperate to find turned out to be love for myself. 

People may think it’s strange that I rock out to Journey while I bake brownies one minute and then harvest mint to bagpipes and Irish fiddle the next. It may be odd to prefer vintage consignment shop finds to designer labels and Coach Purses. Pop culture might find it bizarre that I love a night of grandma’s Sunday dinner, bedtime stories with my girls, and a movie with my husband instead of doing the bar scene like others my age.  You know what? That is just fine with me. As someone once told me, I have an old soul. I think that is pretty darn cool in its own right. I am uniquely me and though it may not make me popular, I know that I can rest my head at night with the comfort that I am true to myself. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Super Mama

So the other day I was at a local consignment shop looking for a themed costume set for my girls.  I noticed the plethora of Spiderman, Wolverine, Batman, Superman, Super Girl and other flame headed outfits that I didn't recognize.  I smiled as I selected a Pooh Bear for Jenna and a Piglet for Naomi-too cute! Great photo opportunities for both of them and a third the cost that I’d pay in the retail stores-go ME, Go MAMA, go me, It’s your birthday! What a super shopper, I mused. If only they had a super mom costume too.  Still grinning at my $9.75 receipt, I headed to the car and rolled this idea in my head for a minute.  Supermom…what would that superhero look like, what would she act like, what would make her…well, SUPER?

Supermom would have to be….

Strong: There are endless reports of super mom strength out there. Most of us have heard stories of a mother who lifts cars that have fallen and trapped their child. But on a day to day basis, who else, besides a super mom, would be able to carry a backpack diaper bag, (full of diapers, a container of wipes, two changes of clothes, water bottles, and snacks) a purse, a 15 pound car seat carrier containing a 13 pound infant, a 25 pound big sister on the other hip, with a free hand to hold the dog leash and a set of keys.  

Fearless: Have you ever seen a mother in protection mode? There is nothing fiercer on this planet! Super moms who brave fires, alligators, bears, raging rivers, cobras, and yes folks, even dreaded black widow spiders, will spring into action to save their offspring. Even if the predator or perilous situation normally leaves them immobilized with fear, the super mom auto pilot kicks in and that arachnid is squashed 60 times in under 3 seconds.
Situations that would make brave men shiver have virtually no effect on super mommies.  My father was removing letters off a wall once, slicing his own thumb in half with a razor blade resulting in it flopping back like a banana peel. He refused to go to the doctor and using gauze and bandage tape was actually able to heal it completely without scaring.  Really brave-no tears or anything. But you sit him next to a diarrhea diaper change or a projectile barfing baby and he bolts across the room. Super mommy’s have a natural immunity to all things repulsive, horrible, and hideous.  This fearlessness strengthens with each birth of their children.  With a little Vick’s Vapor Rub under the nose, she laughs in the face of what makes other citizens’ gag!

Special Powers: Kisses are the super mom’s most potent power.  When applied they have the magic to ease pain, slow the flow of tears, and communicate an overflowing of love and comfort.
They also have super hearing and concentration.  This ability enables them to be able to carry on and decipher a cell phone conversation with her husband, select the correct book and hand it to her daughter in her car seat, drive a car, all while tuning out high pitched two year old complaints about the noise coming from the crying infant.
Super moms have eyes in the back of their heads-(Ok! Not really-but they are smart enough to use the reflections in the microwave that show the mirror next to the dining room table reflecting the 2 year old climbing the book shelf).

Athletic: Super Mom must be able to leap a pack-and-play in a single bound in attempts to save Jenna’s treasured organic roast beef and lettuce sandwich from the villainous food snatching arch enemy Mindy-dog! Or race after a toddler at lightening speeds when their Elmo leash has broken loose in aisle 3 of the grocery store.

Wear A Costume: The costume of super mom changes daily but there are hidden symbols of her super life if you are observant and look closely enough…white spots or cream colored streams on her shoulders (baby spit up), various colors of small hand prints on her butt (from hugs with little hands dipped in paint, sidewalk chalk, or lunch leftovers).

Arch Enemies: Yellow# 5, Anything with Sugar, Belated bedtime, and fore mentioned sandwich eating Mindy-dog (see athletic).

Secret hideout: The bathroom.  Where else can Supermom get a few precious and uninterrupted moments to herself?

Alter Ego or Identity: There are many:
1)    Wife.  This identity is only used on rare occasions when Supermom and her husband aren’t too exhausted after the kids finally fall asleep or on the two times a year they attempt a date. 
2)   Her real first name. Super mom doesn’t hear it very often once she takes on the roll of mommy.  Sometimes supermoms are totally shocked by the sound of it.  “Hello? This is Mommy, whom may I ask are you calling?” “_____, hold on a sec…Oh! Right! That’s me-what are you calling for again?”
3)   Super Mom also has a myriad of other unspoken aliases: housecleaner, housekeeper, baker, chef, cook, chauffer, taxi service, nurse, doctor, story-teller, boo-boo kisser, hairdresser, stylist, psychologist, laundress, and even seamstress for those gifted with that skill.

Vehicle: Mini-van.  You must be careful to decipher between elderly person van and Super Mom get- away van.  Totally recognizable if you stare through the windows at the interior: Goldfish cracker crusted car seats and toy graveyard lining the floor is a dead giveaway every time.  

Uses Gadgets: What super hero would be complete without a wide array of gadgets to help them in their missions?

It’s basically a blue plastic compartment with a hose attached that you suck on to extract buggers from a child’s nose. Does it look disgusting? You bet! Is it really? No. The sticky germ filled slime balls get caught in the cleanable compartment and are unable to pass through the tubing into your mouth.  This gadget might also help classify super moms as fearless.

2)   She’s Packin’. In place of Batman’s utility belt, super mom comes packed to the hilt.  Wipes, thermometer, infant Tylenol, Sippy cup, spare clothes, diapers, butt paste, teething ring, bottled water, safe size chew snacks, first aid kit, and least we forget the never-ending flow of hand sanitizer all packed in a convenient over the back, one strap diaper bag- equipped with a cell phone holder just above the right shoulder. This is supermom’s most handy accessory even if she does look like she’s embarking on a six week survival mission through the jungle.

3)   Swing Baby Swing: Only way Supermom gets to eat any meal with both hands is when her child magically falls asleep in this amazing gadget. Equipped with 3 speeds, two swing styles, and 6 musical settings you don’t get more high tech than this baby J

4)   Super Mom’s Ultimate Weapon: Not a gun, sword, or bow and arrow. You don’t get more powerful than Wiggles Greatest Hits on CD, for those moments when nothing else will calm the mayhem around you.  When the desire to hear anything but screaming takes over and the urge to beat your head repeatedly against the wall fades into a blissful world of Fruit Salad, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and most importantly the vocalizations of contented two year olds attempting to sing along.

Good of Society: The most important characteristic that makes Super Mom a super hero is her fight for the good of society. There is no one who has a greater impact on molding our future generation than a Super Mom. Her relationship with her children and her guidance in their growing years influence the formation of values and attitudes they will carry throughout their lives. Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or evil in human life.

That makes the job of Super Mom the most challenging and the most rewarding in the world. A 24 hours a day job that begins from the birth of her first child until the mother passes away, the gift that keeps on giving, as her own children have children of their own and carry on the stable home life she herself fostered.

A Jewish proverb once said, “God could not be everywhere so he made mothers.” Mothers, we may not be able to leap a building in a single bound or intercept an Earth destroying asteroid with our bare hands but there is no question how crucial we are to society. This ability and willingness properly to rear children…make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world…. She who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters…deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God [McKay, pp. 452-54].   In short, Batman and Spiderman got nothing on us!