By Candi Heinberger
As I sit here trying to make sense of the jumbled mess of words in my head, I realize that I often have to choose which superhero to be on any given day. You see, I’ve always felt like I had to do it all: laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, bill paying, dinner making, house cleaning, all things kids, all things wife, church and all related activities, college and my full time job. This is usually not an issue. Usually being the key word. One word never fails to change the security I have in my “battle rhythm” for lack of better terms. Can you guess that word? Yep!
Silly me for thinking that as my kids got older, deployments would get easier. This last combat deployment taught me more than all previous deployments combined. I exchanged late night cries for diaper changes for tears of missing dad. I transitioned from spaghetti dinners being thrown on the floor, with the obvious after dinner bath time, to forgotten school lunches and the guilt that comes with not being able to leave a meeting to feed my child. I traded toddler tantrums for anger spurred by lack of dad time. I dealt with bullies on the playground and “mom I missed the bus”. AND since they were now old enough to know what was going on, I felt that I HAD to entertain the kids every waking minute, keeping them distracted from the thought of dad being gone...all by myself. Now, add in the normal “stuff” of daily life.
Anyone who has been a mom through a deployment is probably laughing right now. Isn’t that all normal? It’s “what we do”, right? It took me a while to realize what I was feeling. It was foreign to me. Then one day it hit and crocodile tears flowed. What was happening?!? I sat in the middle of my hallway, mop in hand and bucket to the side, sobbing for no apparent reason. I felt weak and inept. Why couldn’t I handle this? What made this deployment different from the rest? I’ve ALWAYS been able to do it all. Overwhelmed did not seem appropriate to label what I was feeling.
This is the part of the story where my dear friend walks in and saves the day. I will never forget these words, “Candi, you don’t have to be Wonder Woman!” She continued with, “It is okay to say “no” to activities you cannot fit into your schedule. It is okay to leave the Saturday morning toilet scrubbing till Monday after work, or hire someone to help. It is okay to leave the dishes for the kids to do after school (for anyone who knows me; that is a struggle. I clearly am the only one who can load the dishwasher correctly). It is okay to order pizza and not cook every night. IT IS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP. Let those of us who love you help.”
This is when I decided to be Black Widow.
The total rock star of a superhero, who relies on teamwork to get through tough times. The red haired Avenger who calls for backup when challenges become overwhelming. I do love burgundy hair and wearing black, so why not?! Can she do it all? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean she does. She is smart and calculated, pulling from her resources, while still conquering the world.
- I hired a housekeeper to come on weekends for simple tasks (bathrooms and floors);
- I ordered pizza at least once a week;
- I asked friends to drop off forgotten lunches;
- I learned to say no.
Did I feel like a burden? Yes, but no one viewed me that way. In fact, it created bonding experiences that I had not afforded myself when I was trying to be Wonder Woman.
I have so much to say, but I will stop with this. Give yourself permission to ask for help. Let others love you. Let others bless you. Can you do it all? Yes, but why?
Be Black Widow.
Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Philippians 4:19 - And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:5 - In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other.