And Superwoman Slept
Joan Murray Cefalu
8126 Winter Gardens Blvd #24
Lakeside, Ca 92040
Everyone remembers Supergirl. A being of super power, young and full of energy, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…no, that was Superman, but she could do spectacular things too. Well, one day she turned thirty years-old, retired, hung up her cape and thought to live a simpler life as a wife and mother. She married a respectable young man with big dreams and an even larger heart. She had two little girls and devoted her life to them and her husband. But the world was too hard for the large hearted man and without a fuss he was gone one day and she was left alone with the children.
She was better off then most with a few years of college under her belt and subsidized day care. Each month she only just managed to get all of the bills paid. Each week she only just managed to get her work turned in on time. Each weekend she only just managed to do the yard work, the laundry, the housework and whatever devious "projects" the children's teachers thought would be "fun" for the children to do at home with their families. More then anything she wanted what was best for her children and she never let them see the tears she cried late at night when she tried again and again to juggle the money, her time and their well-being. Sometimes she couldn't sleep for planning.
This last year, things had gotten worse financially with her oldest beginning high school. Every time she turned around the school had its hand out and not for one or two dollars, but for tens, twenties and even hundreds. Gym uniforms, yearbooks, student union fees, dance fees, picture fees, class trip fees, food fee for cooking class, glazing fee for ceramics, towel fee for swim class, locker and lock fee, id card fee, lost id card fee…it never seemed to end. The ravenous high school required more and more money and anytime Superwoman thought to complain, her oldest daughter would look at her in horror and disbelief. "Mother, please, you can't have them think we're poor", her daughter would wail whenever she threatened to tell the school they were getting no more money.
"We are poor!" Superwoman would shout. "Most of your friends' parents may not have better jobs then me, but most of their families have two of those incomes! Am I supposed to apologize for living in a nice neighborhood where people can afford decent things for their children? I'm running myself ragged trying to give you everything you want and a future!"
And she was. Work accounted for forty hours of her week, and then there was her night class, volunteer work, and housework. There was travel time and appointments of all types. It seemed the only minutes left for her were in the waiting room of professional suites while she skimmed through out-dated hang- gliding magazine.
Wednesday started like every school/work morning with the household groaning and bitching and slowly moving into first gear. Superwoman climbed out of bed and slipped on some discarded papers that the dog had pulled out of her trash. Slam! Her toe hit right into her dresser. Even though there was a good possibility it was broken, she still had to get the girls to school and herself to work. She quickly dressed limping and cursing and finally made it out the door with her eldest in tow to drop off at the high school.
Dropping her daughter off at the high school was distressing on a good day. The high school had been built over 50 years ago on the side of a mountain on a winding road when this location was still adequate for the small equestrian based community. While the town had made it to the twenth century, the school remained on the barely assessable roadway. Each morning, dropping her daughter at school (required because of budget cuts canceling the school buses and no north -south transportation going through the town), meant waiting 20 minutes or more for access to the turn to get on to the school road. Not all of this was poor planning by the Department of Highways and Road Works, part of this was because of the tendency for older high school students with their own cars,(and inconsiderate parents too), to cut the line right before the turn, by-passing the wait and infuriating every person in line.
Still nursing her aching toe, Superwoman waited patiently on line. She watched as the mini-van ahead of her skillfully kept the person in the small green Mazda from cutting the line at about the halfway mark. Superwoman stepped up to the challenge and deftly moved in behind the mini-van allowing no access for the green Mazda, but unfortunately the mom in the blue Ford behind Superwoman had not been fast enough and the Mazda gunned her engine to slip into the foot wide opening. Superwoman was enraged; months of this abuse came into clear focus. As the Mazda gunned her engine to quickly slip into the open space, Superwoman hit her brake, failing to give the Mazda the expected couple of extra inches the driver had hoped for! Long and short of the tale, none of the cars collided (although it had been close) and no one was hurt. Superwoman felt no satisfaction and her daughter was stunned; her normally passive mother would never deliberately set out to hurt someone.
Superwoman was barely to the student drop-off point with her toe still throbbing and her adrenaline pumping, when she felt the buzz of her pager. That meant that someone was already at work and something had gone wrong needing her assistance. With one hand on the wheel and the other feeling through her purse, she searched for her cell phone. She jumped like it was a poisonous snake when she found it and it suddenly rang in her hand. She looked at the incoming number and realized it was her youngest daughter's school which meant some trouble on that front too.
For a moment, Superwoman's whole day flashed in front of her eyes. Rushing first to her youngest daughter's school, quickly over to work, to be reprimanded for not having been available when paged, off to her office for the normal grind of the day, pick up the girls, handle dinner and dishes and finally, blessedly, into her own bed. And in that one moment it became crystal clear what she needed to do.
Superwoman made a left turn instead of a right. She drove into the side roads instead of into the town. She drove north instead of south. Finally, Superwoman pulled into her driveway and up to the back door. She entered the laundry room kicking over the piles of waiting clothes. She tossed her keys on the washer and her pager on the sink full of dishes as she progressed into the kitchen. The cell phone landed on the living room coffee table and she pulled the cord from the house phone as she turned the corner into her bedroom. She jumped into bed and pulled the quilt up over her head. And Superwoman slept……. because you can't be super every day…….not without some help.