When I grew up, I realized that I'm a pretty high-capacity person with tremendous drive and fierce determination. Once in a while, when I would talk to my friends about all the things I was doing or involved in, they would call me Wonder Woman. They would say things like, "I don't know how you do all that you do." I wore it like a badge of honor--that is, until living a superhuman life broke my health. And then, when I came home and was able to do "mom" things, my daughter kicked me in the gut by telling me that she was feeling smothered. She had gotten so used to me "not having time for her" that it was weird now that I did. So I raised two very independent kids, but at what cost? It took me months to come down off the constant adrenaline rush of living life as a superhuman. I walked around in circles, not sure how to be human--or, rather, to just be. My mind kept going back to a blog Laurie Bestvater wrote a few years ago on how Mason structured her days and how amazing it was that she got so much done when she created and enforced such strict boundaries. I read Brene Brown, Richard Swenson, Marva Dawn, Barbara Brown Taylor, and, of course, Charlotte Mason, and I think I learned how to create and maintain some sort of balance and embrace my humanity by saying "no" more and by having more "or's" than "and's." I definitely got healthier. But I found that means sometimes doing something that it pains me so much to do: disappoint people. There is an element of shame that you have to let go of when you learn to be human. Sometimes people place unrealistic expectations on you, and you have to be ready to not own them. You have to respect yourself enough to make decisions based on the understanding that it is reasonable for you to know and ask for what you need and expect those needs to be met. After all, if you don't, who will?
Now, even as I work from home on a new curriculum project (which I LOVE), I'm starting to hear echoes of a former life. It starts with comments like, "I don't know how you are doing all of this!" It is said with admiration and comes from a place of gratitude, but I no longer see it as a badge of honor. Instead, it is a glaring red flag, and my body begins to whisper, "Whoa, now. We are human, and being human is enough. It is what we were created to be." And so I think it may be a life-long process, this re-learning how to live life on a human scale, balancing what people need from me with what I need for myself. Not as Wonder Woman, but as plain old Diana Prince. No twirls allowed.