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Superwoman

Michelle Rodriguez blogs about learning to balance and appreciate life.

I live my life under a misconception that I am Superwoman. I truly believe in some masochistic part of my mind that I can do everything. Let me give a vague idea of what I mean.

I wake up every morning at 4:30 a.m. to write.  For an hour and a half, I let my mind wander my imaginary world. Some would consider getting up so early just to write as extreme, but for me, it isn’t a chore or a sacrifice. Usually, when I’m working on a novel, I’m so anxious to write that I’m awake even before my alarm goes off with some absurd paranoia that I will miss my designated writing time. I will admit that is a bit crazy.

But mental escape is necessary because then comes the chaos. Mom responsibilities call, and I’m off to make lunches and get my son Noah ready for school. He is autistic, so everything must run to the clock and in the same exact order every morning. As soon as he is out the door, I practice my music for an hour and a half while my daughter Cordelia watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, stopping whenever she needs something or decides to have a random freak out.  From the moment my last note stops, she consumes the rest of my morning and early afternoon: making her lunch, working on potty training (my idea of torture!), trying my best to get a few odd-and-end tasks accomplished with her help and attention. Her new interest is “helping” me with housework. It causes more of a mess, but it’s cute.

At 1 p.m., I’m off to pick up my son from school. As soon as he gets home, we have his routine to accomplish, which again thanks to his autism, must happen exact and unchangeably every afternoon: change from his uniform, a snack, his homework and reading, then some TV.  By then, it’s time to start cooking dinner.  Feed the kids, bath time, wait for my husband to get home, which isn’t until after 6 p.m., and then bedtime rituals.  We attempt sleep at 8:30 p.m., but again, Noah has his routine that can’t be deviated lest we want a tantrum.

That’s just a normal day. Now add into the mix that currently three days a week I have rehearsals in the evening for The Magic Flute and therefore cook dinner at noon to make sure everyone is taken care of while I’m gone, and I guess calling myself Superwoman isn’t really that farfetched.

My life: singer, author, wife, mother to two little ones, one of which has special needs. Sometimes I don’t even know how I’m doing it anymore. I’ve been called “motivated” again and again, but I don’t agree with that. It’s just my life, and I deal with it as best I can. Is it too much?  Maybe, but I can’t fathom giving anything up. I’m not me without every detail in my hectic and insane day.

Despite the constant rigor of my schedule, I’m trying to learn a certain level of balance. Most of the time, I feel like I am upon the proverbial balance beam, one wrong step from toppling, but if I approach things whole-heart and without hesitation, I manage to stay upright and make it through. Sure, some things suffer; housework is truly the last thing on my list, and laundry is the bane of my existence! But I’m trying to cut myself a break in that department. The laundry will always be there tomorrow; missing a rehearsal or giving up dance time in the kitchen with my kids on Friday evenings is not worth the sacrifice.

One of my goals this year is to take a step back and appreciate things more. I never do that, and I’m terrified that one day I’ll look and my life will already be over. What’s the point of living if we don’t appreciate the small things?  I’ve been making the biggest effort with my kids, reminding myself that they’re only little once. How often do my husband and I say that we can’t wait until they’re older and we can do more stuff with them? Especially in regard to Noah’s autism. It’s almost like wishing his childhood away because everything is so complicated. Of course, we see every advance he makes and appreciate it more than most parents could imagine. Just hearing him spontaneously say to one of his classmates last week, “Goodbye, I’ll see you tomorrow” made me cry; a small achievement for a regular kid, but a huge leap for a five-and-a-half year old who rarely acknowledges anyone without a phrase being put into his mouth first. I appreciated that moment and stood back to truly look at it, and that’s what I want to do with everything.

We live in a world that is constantly spinning and can knock us off our feet.  I don’t have control; I’ll never have control, but I love the things I do. I still need to work on accepting that it’s all right to fall every so often and ask for help. To prioritize, but forgive myself for not managing to juggle everything at the same time.

My perfectionist streak makes it difficult, but I’m trying.  I’m tired of being Superwoman!

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Marie Grass Amenta February 29, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Hi Michelle, I can relate, BIG TIME! I am also a musician--a singer (I still study) and I conduct (what my degrees are in)a semi-professional chamber choir here in the south 'burbs. I am a mom of three, one of whom has autism. Russ was 32 years old on Monday. Sigh. Yes, there is life after you decide to NOT be a Superwoman/Supermom. I write as well, mostly program notes and the occasional article about music and autism for autism support groups newsletters. I just finished writing a book of essays about raising a child with autism. I started writing the essays about ten years ago, with no real plan, but just to help me decompress. My husband wrote the first children's book about autism 20 years ago and last year, a new edition of that book was published. I decided, why not collect my essays into a book as kind of a companion work? We'll see about that but who knows, there maybe someone who would be interested. I do read your postings here and have wanted to comment before but you struck a nerve with me today--I want to tell you you are on the right track. I want to tell you I have come before and I am alive and relatively happy. I am holding your hand in spirit on your journey! We all come to a place when we stop trying for perfection and do the best we can. Once we reach that place, a weigh is lifted off of our shoulders and it becomes easier and are able to cope with the things life throws at us, even autism craziness.
Michelle Rodriguez March 01, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Thank you so much, Marie! It's so nice to hear that someone understands and relates to just how hard it is! I appreciate all of your kind, supportive words. Thank you! And you and your husband sound remarkable for all of the things you are doing and publishing in regards to autism! It is such a difficult situation to deal with, as we well know around here! Good luck with all of your work!! And I'd love to hear about your essays! I feel like I can't learn enough when it comes to autism and knowing how someone else handles it would be wonderful! :) Michelle

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