Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Write Away Contest

Do I blame Celita, or thank her for getting me into this? A friend of mine has recently gotten into entering writing contests (her last entry got her honorable mention), and once again one of her ventures has inspired me to try my hand at it. We entered a writing contest (see hers at perilloparodies.blogpsot.com) about being Wonder Woman. Here is the link to the hostess of the contest:http://scribbit.blogspot.com/2008/07/julys-write-away-contest.html

Here is my entry:

Wonder Woman's Life in a Fishbowl

Picture it. Italy. 2008. I’m standing in line at a hospital galley on the Navy base in Naples. I have three kids, two trays, and a double stroller. One of them has run back to the scullery. The other has gone looking for a table, because apparently “hold onto the stroller and do not move a muscle” didn’t involve enough threat. The baby looks like a sack of potatoes resting on my hip and flopped over my arm. The lady behind me in line has THE NERVE to ask which tray she can carry for me. What, like I can’t handle it? I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to undertake this crazy adventure (and believe me, anything that involves leaving the house with three kids under the age of five fully qualifies as a crazy adventure). What does she think I do when I have my hands full at home? Just wait, in the midst of my juggling act, for my husband to walk through the door and relieve me? Does she think that while my husband goes on his six month deployments that we hibernate or cryogenically freeze ourselves until his return? Look, lady. My kids might me running in all directions and I have more than I can possibly carry. The sound of my stomach rumbling might be deafening. But I can handle this. I AM WONDER WOMAN!

I politely said thank you, but I would be fine. Besides, she had her own tray. And she had two teenage boys with her. She has obviously passed this stage of her life, and I would not wish for her to revisit it. But she insisted, and I relented. I’m really stubborn, I told her, and I know that I need to work on it. If I can’t physically get my kids and their food to the table, then I have no business being here, right? Maybe I have no business having three kids so close in age? I must be absolutely out of my mind to be planning the next one! Did I mention that I live on a Navy base? It’s like living in Melrose Place or on Wisteria Lane. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. I would not be surprised if right now someone is judging my house, my parenting, my appearance, and is speculating about whether or not I am cheating on my husband. With all of that, it is not surprising that around here the pressure to be Wonder Woman is high.

Who is Wonder Woman, though? Can she juggle those trays and all those kids and have them seated at the table with napkins in their laps? Does she whip up a perfect stack of pancakes for the children while silently wondering (in July) if she made two Thanksgiving dinners this November and put one in the deep freezer, would it still be good next year? Does she keep her kids spotlessly clean and photo-ready at all times? Does she hold a job, go to school, volunteer at the PTA and church nursery, and build houses for Habitat for Humanity just to prove that she can? Are her children’s room full of educational toys (yet the room is absurdly tidy)? Does she put on makeup to take the kids to the pool? Does she invite friends over, make everything from scratch, clean the house to perfection, and then go out of her way to ensure that it looks effortless? Or…. Does she grab a granola bar, banana, and juice box for the kid while running out the door (she would have given the kids pancakes, but decided to let them help, and the batter wound up on the floor instead. She is silently wondering how many of her closest friends and family she can pack into her living room for Thanksgiving.) Does she allow her daughter to wear cowboy boots and a bathing suit, because she picked it out herself, and hey, what a perfect photo opportunity?! Is her kid’s room is a mess? Of course, there are barbies everywhere, but she is trying to teach a lesson in “clean it up, or your brother will break it all”. Does she wash off her mascara before she takes her kids to the pool? Of course! She plans on getting in the pool. Does she push the art projects to the edge of the table at dinner time because her friends know that she has kids and they can either like it or leave? Does she have energy left over for her husband at the end of the day?

The glass of the fishbowl is transparent. If I want to fool the people looking in, I have to work pretty hard. Looking out of the fishbowl, the faces are all distorted. I can’t see the big picture, and nobody is what they seem. Between us and them there is a great barrier. I can try forever to be Wonder Woman to those who are standing on the other side of the glass, but if I don’t measure up to the expectations of the spectators they will just move along, foolishly commenting on their way out. Meanwhile, I have the opportunity to become a super hero for four very deserving people. Rumor has it that my touch has magical boo-boo curing qualities and that one bite of a chocolate chip cookie has been known to completely reverse and terrible-two-toddler tantrum. The super hero for the people out there doesn’t exist. Nobody will measure up. But to my family I am like the Easter Bunny wearing a Santa Suit (and don’t think I wouldn’t do that if my kids weren’t scared of grownups in costume). I’ll take the help I can get, and I will save our world daily with a cuddle, a bedtime story, or a water balloon fight, and in their eyes I AM WONDER WOMAN.


perilloparodies said...

I love it, Elaine! And I can SO relate!!! :-) Love You! Hope things are going well today.

Scribbit said...

The fishbowl metaphor is fantastic--what a great image!

MoziEsmé said...

I like this! Keep perspective and focus on the ones you love, regardless of what others think. So often we do things in reverse - show our nasty side to our family and shape up as soon as others are around.

This was so well written!