15. Don’t be a superhero

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Yes, that’s my advice. Don’t be a superhero, like my mom was, like I tried to be. Don’t take care of the household, the kids, make sure everybody’s safe and fed, bring in money, put everyone else’s needs before yours and ignore your own physical and mental health. You have to pay attention to the signs your body and mind are sending you: if you break, you can’t help anyone, now, can you? The others can share the load. Even children can be taught to help with nearly every chore, including organizing their own time.

 Urban is adamant that we’re going to share the load from now on—and I’m not talking about housework, I’m talking about those most insidious of burdens, which break down your defenses from the inside: the evil twins, the mental load and the emotional load. And yet, I’ve ordered takeout a bunch of times in the past couple of days because he doesn’t always remember to cook. And let me tell you, recovery has now made me hungry! I need big, nourishing meals!

You might think I’m spoiled, expecting my husband to work and cook every day, and you might be right. But think of the fact that, for twelve years, I made sure we had three good meals every single day. Every day I asked myself, does Urban have enough food? And when the kids came, with their incredible appetite and their hypoglycemia-induced tantrums, this became a real need. Small kids don’t wait for the food to be ready; they cry because for them, hunger is a dramatic occurrence (all right, I’ll admit it, I’m also a drama queen when it comes to food). I don’t know if it was love or my near-OCD—I suppose it was a little bit of both—but I always had good food in my home, even when things were tough, sometimes even when I was sick or when I was leaving for a work trip. Now that I’m not well—and that Urban is temporarily working part-time due to Covid—I was kind of expecting a similar treatment. I wanted there to be food before I get hungry, because I get hangry. Urban is the kind of person who, two hours after our usual lunch time, will come and say, “Shall I make something?” By that point, I’ve already raided the fridge and I’m already feeling neglected and not at all pampered.

Anyway, lack of pampering aside, the point I was trying to make before that brief excursion was: don’t be a superhero. I had this crazy idea that I can do everything, that I should be able to do everything, that my endurance and energy would just never run out. On the day of my breakdown, mere hours before, I told Tyler, “I have so much energy! I have so much to give!” Little did I know, a few days later I’d be on the couch, barely able to keep my eyes open at six o’clock in the evening. All right, the sleepiness might be because of the medication, but still. I crashed, hard, and it took days to be able to even go from the bedroom to the bathroom. Don’t do that. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion. Don’t be me.

So, from now on, we’re sharing the load, apparently. Do I believe that? I know that Urban’s intentions are sincere, but he has this tendency to get comfortable and let others do the work, although he does do his share without complaint when he has to. But by not being physically with me and the kids most of the time, he gets off doing a lot of stuff, and this I’m also a little resentful of. I understand that I can’t have everything be done my way, and I don’t expect to have my way in every issue that comes along. But there has to be communication, which is a skill Urban was never trained in. You can see it in his parents: his dad is the same kind of uncommunicative introvert—when he tries to engage you in small talk, it feels like an interview, or rather an interrogation—and his mom just takes care of everything—no communication needed there. Urban is, moreover, used to ignoring us when we speak, which is no wonder, since his mom will just go on and on, and if you don’t have that skill, you can barely survive ten minutes in her household.

I’ve started cooking now, and I think it helps us all to have regular meals again, when we can sit and eat like a family, instead of the kids getting hungry and munching on random stuff and me getting cranky and irritable. And I also think it’s a good way of starting to be active again: cooking is one of the easiest chores for me. When Urban cooked, we were a little scattered, since all the snacking meant that the kids weren’t hungry anymore at mealtimes. I am assuming again the role of the manager of the household, I guess.

But it has to be different this time. It can’t reach the point where I break from the strain of fixing everything. I know I have to let them figure it out, even if it causes some agitation in the house.

So, yep, no more superheroes here, folks.

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