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Do the Write Thing

Mothers: the oldest class of superheroes

It’s the cape, the magical, flowing cape, that makes a superhero, right?

After she gives birth, each mother should be presented with her own cape. Much more stylish than hospital gowns, anyway. Their superhero strength runs stronger than Superman, or Wonder Woman, or the Hulk.

After this weekend, I have newfound respect for all mothers, particularly those who do it alone. A single mom living in East Syracuse, my sister Suzanne remains incredibly independent. She rarely asks for help, and takes pride in raising her toddler daughter Alexis. It’s challenging, I’m sure -- especially when Alexis has, at 3, has adopted the same attitude and outlook on life as her favorite and only aunt. I suppose that’s why my sister never asks me to babysit.

I’ve loved being an aunt. I was in the operating room when Alexis was born in an emergency C-section. My parents planned that one well -- for a college student, watching a C-section was certainly sufficient birth control to send any thought of procreation well into my mid-thirties. Having lived in Rochester for most of her life, I have learned to talk the “Aunt Amanda” talk well, but the walk needs a little work.

Enter last week.

My sister was struck with illness and was admitted to the hospital. In a frantic frenzy, she texted to ask if I could take Alexis. Without hesitation, I agreed. One minor problem -- I am not equipped for toddler care.

After all, I don’t think anyone would be amused to see a toddler drinking juice from a margarita glass, one of the only drinkware available in my bare apartment. I also don’t think watching “Bridesmaids” on repeat would be appropriate. I do, however, have making boxed mac and cheese down to a science.

I started worrying about how I would juggle my full-time job and a toddler. I had a 6:30 p.m. meeting, and then a 7 a.m. meeting the next day. Figuring in the 45-minute commute from Chittenango to Camillus and combining that with before-bedtime care, making breakfast and getting her dressed… I was looking at maybe getting a quick nap between my evening and morning meetings. With some juggling and some help from my mom, we figured it out.

I figured I would work from home on Friday afternoon. I could throw on some cartoons to entertain Alexis, and would go about my workday, making calls about boards and budgets and other things toddlers have absolutely no interest in. Except Dora teaches kids to repeat words, and it’s hard to understand a fire department budget when you hear “DORA DORA DORA DORA DORA the EXPLORAAAA” for 45-minutes straight.

I had Friday and Saturday evening plans. Friends had asked me to join them at a bar. No-can-do with a toddler at home. Apparently 3-year-olds don’t take well to being woken at 1 a.m. to go home. Consider those plans canceled.

By Friday evening, I was ready to complain and whine about how my social life was being affected. My job was being made more difficult, and I couldn’t go about my day how I wanted to. Then I realized that’s what moms do everyday. They juggle, and they sacrifice each day. Moms are superheroes, without the capes.

I don’t know when the transformation begins. I imagine it’s a little less Hulk-like and a little more discreet of a transformation, like Superman in a phone booth, but the transformation is there. You go from an everyday woman who handles her life, and you become a superhero, who juggles her own needs, replacing her wants with her child’s. She can do everything.

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