I Can’t Always be Wonder Woman
Ever since I was a young girl (I know I am showing my age here), I idolized Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.
I would watch her show every week, and take pointers from her, keeping them logged in my brain. I had the “twirl” down, when she changed from her secretary clothes into her infamous Wonder Woman swimsuit and boots, with her golden lasso of truth. Her tiara was something I dreamed of owning and her Amazon body was what I wanted to have when I grew up.
I still remember putting on my red one piece swim suit, and my knee high red socks, and tying my yellow skipping rope around my waist, as my lasso. My mom was always irritated with me for stealing the aluminum foil from the house, to fashion into my bullet proof bracelets and a makeshift tiara. I WAS WONDER WOMAN.
I tried to tie up my brother’s friends, who were 5 years older than me, and force them to tell the truth. They would humor me and play along, most of the time. Other times, they would become annoyed and shooed me away. I honestly didn’t mind, cause I had super powers. THEY DIDN’T . They were weak boys who just wanted to sit around and smoke stolen cigarettes while I made the world a better place, by fighting imaginary crime. My favorite activity was scaling my father’s CB tower to perch on the roof of our house, in my socks and swimsuit. I would sit and watch for criminals, for hours, in hopes to battle them.
Here’s the most important part. As a child, I grew up in a household of toxic stress. There was parental and family alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse, and so much more that my small body endured. I never stood a chance at a “normal” childhood, coming from a family that my friends took pity on, and avoided. I was the dirty kid from the dirty house, and was picked on relentlessly at school. I was bullied by my siblings, school mates, and was dealt many sides of emotional and physical trauma. Even my teachers looked at me with disappointment and pity.
BUT I SURVIVED!
Cause I was fucking Wonder Woman that’s why. I had ways of coping and maintaining my own “power”, from a very young age. I learned to push the pain and heartbreak aside, and power through. I watched Lynda Carter on her show, and decided at some point in time, that she was just like me. She was vulnerable, she was kind, she was emotional, but damnit she was tough and she was resilient. She came from a mystical world of all kindhearted, strong women, and they all accepted each other. They were all powerful, in their own way and they taught me, at a young age that I can be powerful as well. I had dreams, night after night, of being on that peaceful island.
Now, as an adult, my daughter has always embraced my Wonder Woman obsession. Every Christmas and birthday, I get gifts of merchandise with the WW logo, and my boyfriend recently gifted me with Wonder Woman decor for my new car. Together they have developed quite the collection for me, and I cherish it daily.
Why do they feed my addiction? Because to them, I AM freaking Wonder Woman. I am “their” Wonder Woman, and they both look to me to be the strong, resilient woman that I am. They see me as I commit to workouts, maintaining my body, I have a strong work ethic, am kind to others no matter who or what they are, I can bake, cook, clean, juggle my career and write. I can sew, and laugh and make friends and have fun. Most importantly, I can ALWAYS be there for both of them. They know they will always have my support. I will always have their backs, and I love them both unconditionally. They both know they can rely on me for ANYTHING. They get that I can be vulnerable and sometimes even weak, but they know I will pull through. And they are absolutely correct.
Sometimes, it’s damn hard to live up to those expectations. Sometimes, I need to be the weak one, the tired one, or the one who needs to be saved. But they both have seen me go through so much, especially my daughter, and she has ALWAYS seen me bounce back- do my twirl, put my fucking tiara back on, and power through.
Now that I am in my 40’s, it’s odd to look back at what I have survived: 3 cancers, a childhood of abuse, a failed marriage (after 21 years), 4 huge moves around the country, and countless career changes. I have been a babysitter, busgirl. waitress, bartender, strip club manager, photo finisher, photographer, bookkeeper, payroll manager, dishwasher, hotel manager, school bus driver, business owner, child care director, and child care worker. Up until my most recent career move, I always worked more than one job at a time. I have put myself through college and university courses while working full time, and being a mommy.
My passion, however, was saving children from lives like mine. I never want to see a child go through the toxic stress that I have been through.
My career now, in Children’s Services, has been a game changer. My daughter, who is now 25, watched me struggle and claw my way to my position. She has seen me go through a divorce, change cities and fight for my career, while struggling with cancer scares and relationship issues. She has loved me through my best and my worst. In many ways, I have transformed her into her own version of Wonder Woman. She is the 2.0 version.
This will probably be the last career, besides writing, that I will ever have, and that’s okay with me. As Wonder Woman, I DO make a difference in children’s lives. I go to work every day, knowing that what I do makes children safer and more resilient. I make sure that their caregivers make a difference. I do my duty as a super hero. And it’s the most humbling and rewarding career I could ask for. I never do my work in vain. My entire heart bleeds for kids like me and children who struggle.
But, somedays, it’s hard. It’s mentally exhausting. It’s painful to see failures of families and it hurts when I can’t “fix” everything with my invisible plane, or my lasso. Some days, I just want to be like everyone else, and shut the world off. There are days when I don’t want to write, or work, and I just want to be alone. However, I think of my hero, and I get up. I dust myself off, and put the bracelets back on, averting the proverbial bullets that are shot at me every day. It’s the ONLY way I know how to live.
The “new Wonder Woman”
When the new Wonder Woman movie came out, everyone thought I would be the first one in line for tickets at the theatre. Everyone I know, tagged me on trailer posts on social media, with comments like, “Check it out! I bet you already got your ticket!” or “Look! Your hero has a new movie”. But, to be honest, I was sad. I wa beyond sad, actually. I felt like an era was leaving me in the dust, and that this new “Gal” person, would try and replace Lynda Carter. It actually hurt to see her replacement. It hurt thinking that the new WW logo would become mainstream, and the comic books of my childhood would be a distant memory. It sucked, thinking about my hero being “replaced”.
Don’t get me wrong. The movie was “okay”. I succumbed to my boyfriend’s nagging and went to see it finally, before it stopped showing in theatres. I left feeling sad, and never really understood why. He really liked it, and thought Miss Gadot did a fantastic job in her role. (She did). But, I still felt an emptiness inside me, and fought back tears as I walked out of the mall where our theatre is.
NOW, I understand why.
What I took from the movie, was that EVEN WONDER WOMAN can be replaced, and the world just carries on. A new generation will never know Lynda in her most famous role.
My role model, Lynda Carter’s version of Wonder Woman, is now much older, a little curvier, and has found a new path in music and apparently as a Hollywood Squares regular. She didn’t even cameo in the movie, leaving me with a lack of a smooth transition. How dare she NOT be in the movie?
As I look in the mirror, I realize that I, too, am MUCH older, more wrinkly, and curvier. I never did get as tall as an Amazonian, but I have fought hard to be strong and resilient. But, much like Lynda Carter, eventually I will have to hang up my tiara as well. I know, in my daughter’s eyes, I can never be replaced, but eventually, my path will also change.
I am positive, that one day, my daughter will brush the dust off of my tiara, do the twirl, and take over my position. She is my new favorite super hero.
I will forever be grateful for Wonder Woman saving my life. Even if she is just a silly super hero to some, she literally made me who I am today. Having a female role model, especially in the era that her show was on TV, helped me to realize my strength, power and resiliency to the bullshit that I grew up in.
I am, and always will be Wonder Woman to someone. And even though it can be exhausting, I wouldn't have it any other way.