Recently I went to visit the widower of my artist friend Robin who had passed a year ago of lung cancer. After a long-winded conversation about the demands of caretaking, her husband gave me a tight hug and said something that made me cringe. “You’re very strong woman.”
I realize it was meant as a compliment, but it’s said so frequently I actually find it irritating. People hear the gritty details of my life – demanding job, special needs child, crazy baby daddy – and they make the hasty assumption that I have some sort of super powers. Ha! If only they knew.
On closer inspection my life ain’t that pretty. I kicked the bottled last year but am nowhere near mastering stress. I still yell and swear – a lot. I binge on reality television beyond the point that is healthy or normal for a woman my age. Something about seeing drunken rich women more out of control than myself is comforting. Oh, and I’m not that good at domestic stuff, like cooking dinner. My kid eats a lot of mac and cheese from the box.
I live a few blocks from the Freedom Tower, so I’m constantly reminded how quickly New York City came to its knees when attacked. Pre-911, New Yorkers took the Twin Towers for granted. Dwarfing miles of surrounding buildings, the towers appeared stately – and, like me I suppose, strong. But, damn if those two towers didn’t come down fast once attacked.
I’m no different really. I often feel like I could crash and fall on my super woman cape at any moment. So, when people quip “I don’t know how you do it,” I’m loss for words. Looks, after all, can be deceiving.