I’m a pretty delicate person without much pain tolerance. When I used to cut myself, I barely broke the skin. When I had Zoe I was only in active labor for about three hours when my doctor entered and said, “You have two options. You can keep pushing or-” I went with the second option before she finished the sentence. Never heard of a vacuum as far as child-bearing was concerned and didn’t care. Didn’t even consider the potential side-effects on my child, as my husband later pointed out. 

Luckily, the only side-effect turned out to be a lumpy head, and even that was temporary. 

Yeah, I don’t do well with pain, emotional or physical. 

I’ve been watching Daredevil on Netflix, and people can hate on TV all they want, but I learn so much. So Daredevil is a blind (literally) superhero out to save New York. He talks in the first episode about how he learned how to take a beating, and there  are many episodes in which he gets beaten within an inch of his life and somehow, he gets back up and continues fighting and saving lives. I’m sitting there thinking, no way. This guy is dying NOW unless he gets outside help. And he manages to wriggle out of it, half drown, swim back to the city, and drag himself to his own apartment before collapsing. All by himself. Even for a superhero show, it’s unrealistic. Your superpowers are heightened senses, not invincibility! Seriously, get with it Daredevil.

And yet, I like to think that I would be the one getting back up.

This is so far from the truth: I’m incapacitated once a month when I’m on my period, curled up in a fetal position on the bed, hot pad to my stomach, copy of Green Eggs and Ham slipping from my fingers as I mutter to Zoe, “You’ll have to… go on… without… me.” 

Okay, maybe I don’t say that, but that’s the overall effect. I pass out for two hours and leave Zoe to fend for herself, or persistently and gently thwack me on the head with Green Eggs and Ham while she begs me to get up. Then my husband gets home and I unconsciously exaggerate my pain to evoke his feelings of guilt and chivalry instead of asking for the help I need. 

Today I’m sick with something. Maybe I’m pregnant, maybe I ate some bad fish. More likely the latter. I haven’t been able to eat for two days and have been dry-heaving a lot. I was curled up in bed again when I thought of Daredevil, lying in bed, held together by stitches, and getting up the next to fight again.

Now,we have a word for that: stupid. I’m fully aware that this is a TV show and even if it were realistic, there is no reason good enough for pushing yourself to the limit so severely. When we do, we end up getting physically hurt and, more importantly, draining ourselves emotionally and lashing out at the people we love. If I challenge myself excessively, it is my husband that pays the price. Reaching out for help when we need it can be one of the most loving decisions we make. 

But I’m at the other end of the extreme, treating myself like a collectible porcelain doll. I can do slightly more. I’m sick today but I have a decision to make: am I sick enough to warrant asking for help from a friend or getting a babysitter? I have several friends that are usually available to help with a minute’s notice. Am I sick enough to warrant sleeping it off and ignoring Zoe for an hour or two? She can handle playing on her own now. Or can I experiment with doing slightly more, perhaps doing the dishes and reading Zoe Green Eggs and Ham without passing out halfway? All are legitimate answers, but only I can know what I can ask of myself. 

I got out of bed. Changed from skinny jeans and a turtleneck to sweatpants and a T-shirt. Fixed Zoe a peanut butter jelly sandwich, made the bed, and helped her clean before naptime. I actually felt less sick for a while, though I am now back in bed. I know I’m not Supermom, but I like the idea of striving for it (minus the self-aggrandizement that is so unavoidable in superheroes).

It may be a while yet before I dress up in costume and save New York City, but I can still harness and hone certain superpowers within the home. Turns out I’m capable of more– though I am still a firm believer in the hot pad. 


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