I’m not sure if it is my age or post-pandemic disorientation or my growing kiddos or good therapy or the weather, but I’ve been wanting to be a hero lately. I want to do something extraordinary. I want to feel some accomplishment. I want to be a person taking a polaroid in front of well-used van in the throws of an adventure I had always promised myself. I want to learn to play tennis so well that when the ball hits the racket it just sounds like a win. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. I want to mix endorphins with astonishment and a side of self-esteem. 

But, I also want a nap. And a full night of sleep. And a day where not a single person asks me for anything. I want to rest like a sleeping walrus on a sunny beach, body sinking heavily into the sand and formidable enough that no one dares wake me. I want out of the cement hustle and grind around me and maybe to just disappear into an average landscape of existence. 

BUT, I also want to take a dance class again. And finish my MFA that abruptly ended during divorce #1. And paint those images I have collected and stowed away in a folder for the last decade. I want to read a whole book and talk intelligently about it. I want to stir that part of me that spent my teenage years and young adulthood making sense of the weird world through art. 

It’s going to sound strange when I say, after all of that angst, that the fundamental flooring under all these wants is contentment. Alongside all of it, I am - for the first time perhaps - truly content, and not conditionally. I am content with my life, which often lives in a blender and which often leaves me depleted. But, yes, I am at peace. I would be completely satisfied if I never met any of those pursuits listed above. 

That’s not a thing to overlook, this much I know. And maybe it’s why I am feeling pulled. It’s like taking a test when you know no one will see the score. There’s no pressure or “if, then”. Exploration feels on my terms and entirely independent of life goals. 

Maybe it’s also that I am ready, for a variety of reasons, to be in the thick of a retrieval and of a reclamation. There’s a strong part of me that can feel how much I have survived - that we all have survived - and I want to go back to lost things that stitch the word “congruency” together simply because it feels right and good and, well, celebratory. Maybe it’s also a giant fuck-it button, designed to use all that I have involuntarily strengthened over The Impossible Time (aka, the last 4 years). 

I think the beauty of this is that I don’t want or need to change my life in order to pursue some of these wants. I used to need that, I yearned and raced after big life changes in order to chase my dreams or never give up. It felt like if I didn’t do the thing NOW and RADICALLY, it would never happen and I would lose something that forged my identity - I would lose myself forever. But, now, these pulls are simply next to me, asking for a hand to hold and a song to hum.

The issue then is how do I engage in them while also acknowledging that I have very little capacity for anything else in my life? I already can’t even get on the phone with my parents or simply text a friend back in a timely matter. I end most evenings on the kitchen floor, wishing the dishes away and wondering what might be the appropriate brain drain on Netflix. I start my day with more external demands and bids than can be counted. And every day feels like an episode called Not Enough Time.

This is the trick with being a hero and a caretaker, we have to also be realistic. And everything I have learned about heroism (I’m looking at you Joseph Campbell) has involved some long, dark journeys all by oneself and with very little other than yourself at stake. Realistic does not fit into the archetypes we associate with heroes. In fact, they seem to be heroes because they are anything but realistic. 

I’m not interested in this these days. It actually makes me chuckle, thinking that maybe Mr. Campbell and all his followers are just little boys with too much time on their hands. Maria Tatar, author of Heroine with 1001 Faces, says, “Driven by conflict and conquest, this narrative arc utterly fails as a model of women’s experience.”And so, I am curious about what it means to sit tightly in your life as it is right now and then still hold hands with the pull of reclamation. 

This is where I get to invite you to a month spent here at MommaStrong within a theme of being a Realistic Hero. We’re spending March - the time of year where reality hits hard after New Year’s - focused on what it means to stretch and reach into these parts of ourselves while also embracing our limits as primary caretakers. 

I do believe it is possible to attempt this, this way. And instead of offering you guarantees, I offer you good company on the trek. So, grab a spot in this month’s March 2024 Hook: Realistic Hero. During this month, you will get a weekly podcast focused on one area of what I am learning, alongside some worksheets to help bring the content to life. You will also get a daily mini 5-minute doable moderate intensity workout for each day of the challenge. And, best of all, there is a community that is the most alive and supportive place I could hope for. 

All you have to do from here is register and then I will be sending you an email this Sunday with all the goods and how to access the challenge content.

To register for The March 2024 Hook: Realistic Hero, you’ll simply go to this post in the community and then click “Join” I’ll be following up on Sunday, Mar 10th with more details. 

Here’s to a new way to be a hero.