I am a big fan of superheroes. My whole family loves all the Marvel movies, and I love Wonder Woman in particular. My office is decorated with Wonder Woman gadgets, toys, and novelties people have given to me as gifts. A sign on my office door that reads “Wonder Woman’s Headquarters” was put there by my staff a few years ago, and they also gave me an awesome chair cape. It’s fun to be called Wonder Woman, but there’s one thing you need to know…a lot of days, I do not feel like Wonder Woman.
During one stressful season of my life, I tried to “be all” and “do all” for everyone and it finally got to me. A dear friend pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget, “You are Wonder Woman, but you don’t have to be.” Dear sweet mom, you are a superhero! But you don’t have to be, either!
How many times has someone told you that they admire you for managing your family, all the schedules, and all the “things” you do daily? They mean well, but sometimes you feel like you’re barely getting by. Are you moving forward? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re treading water – working hard but not really going anywhere? I do.
Mom, I admire you for all that you coordinate, manage, supervise, prepare, carpool, lead, and direct. Every single title and job responsibility that you carry makes you a superhero! Often, however, all of those titles can lead to a place of exhaustion and even a feeling of loneliness if you don’t have healthy supports in place – a tribe to support you. You may be one of those people who tries to do it all on your own no matter what, and I get it – some people are wired that way. But the truth is, you just can’t do everything all the time and you don’t need to! Follow these five suggestions to keep your superhero powers intact:
1-Find your tribe.
You need friends or a support group who understand your exact path – friends who will listen and be empathetic about your journey and your daily life. Ideally, your tribe will include other parents of children with special needs, but it isn’t necessary. Your tribe needs to be the people who are YOUR cheerleaders no matter what. These are people you can text or call in a heartbeat. They are there for you to say I need help today or they are the people who are texting you to say I am thinking about you today.
2-Practice some self-care starting today!
You have to take time for you if you’re going to keep pouring yourself into other people’s lives. No excuses! “Me time” could be 15 to 30 minutes of reading a book, getting a manicure and pedicure, going to the blowout bar just to let someone else do your hair, going out to lunch, listening to your favorite music, or driving to Starbucks for a treat. You need to do things that speak Joy to your heart and mind. Take time for you!
3-Practice saying “No.”
I know you have a giving heart and I know you want to help all the people with all the things, but for you to care for yourself and your loved ones well, there have to be some no’s. Allow me to give you your permission slip. Here is your pass. You do not have to say yes; it is OK to say no. Just because something is a good option doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Giving yourself that one or two extra hours that might have been spent otherwise may be what your heart needs.
4-Take a therapy break.
You may think this point is odd coming from a person who owns a therapy clinic, but your kid doesn’t need to be in therapy all the time. It is a huge part of taking care of you to accept that sometimes your kid just needs space to be a kid. You have permission to take a week off. Kids get tired, too. Therapy is very demanding on the body and the brain. Speak to your therapists to know when a good time would be for a break. No apologies are necessary.
5-Don’t rely on social media to gauge your happiness.
Social media can be super-fueling but it can also be kryptonite. Kryptonite was the one substance in the universe that could cripple Superman and make him unable to use his superpowers. Don’t compare your super cape to someone else’s. Your cape fits you and that’s perfectly fine. Everyone has their own story and while you think the characters seem similar in your story to another’s, don’t compare.
I meet moms in my office often who need some encouragement that they are doing right by their kids. Some days there are tears, and other days there is laughter. I’m glad for the times that I can sit in my Wonder Woman cape chair and offer a safe-haven for another mom. Cape or no cape, this Wonder Woman office is available for you anytime (chocolate and peppermint candy re-fuelings are always on tap).
Melanie McGriff, Clinic Director, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Image Courtesy Pixabay/Title Added