Wonder Woman was my hero when Trapper Keepers, Hypercolor clothing and Kirk Cameron were all the rage. I would sit in Mrs. Palmer's fluorescently lit classroom imagining myself being dramatically transformed into that perfectly (38-20-37 if you're wondering)-figured Amazon superhero complete with the Lasso of Truth and those classy yet indestructible bracelets on each wrist. This was a regular daydream during my elementary years when my rather plain little self stared very hard into the mirror every morning looking for a tiny glimmer of Lynda Carter's beauty hidden away in there somewhere.
Flash forward twenty-five years (give or take) and I'm a stay-at-home mom, doing mom things, wearing yoga pants instead of a flashy red, white and blue leotard and a crime-fighting tiara (bet you didn't know it doubled as a weapon). My life is pretty mundane and if we're being honest, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that it's not superhero material. In fact, not to be dramatic, but there are days when it's easy to feel like mom-world is a bit of a black hole, a place moms disappear into and are never heard from again.
In light of this disappearing act I feel like I'm performing on a regular basis, I find myself conjuring up ways to reappear. For instance: become a big movie star and turn that stardom into a seriously addictive reality television show. This idea has been shot down. The Wonder Woman daydream occasionally crosses my mind, but let's be honest, it's a little difficult to come by a good pair of indestructible bracelets. But, the truth is, I find myself honing in on one little old dream most of the time. And that dream is (dramatic drumroll here) writing The Great American Novel. Those of you who know me well may be aware of the romantic, period piece, evangelical dramas I wrote in my early years (i.e. 8th and 9th grade). So, this dream is obviously well-worn and yet I keep coming back to it year after year.
I read something intriguing about Howard Stern the other day in an article Focus on the Family's president had written and then emailed me (and 724,000 other people). Basically, the article discussed Howard Stern's recent admission of a serious, neurosis-level need for personal approval and affirmation from others. FoF's president Jim Daly's response to Howard Stern's confession was to quote the one and only Dr. Tim Keller from his book Counterfeit Gods:
The human heart’s desire for a particular valuable object (human affirmation) may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable. How can we break our heart’s fixation on doing “some great thing” in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning? Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God’s salvation does not require us to do “some great thing.” We don’t have to do it, because Jesus has.
I find myself in the same camp as Howard, desiring affirmation and, essentially, just really wanting to matter. Looking back, I see how daydreams of turning into Wonder Woman during a particularly bad hair day are pretty closely related to my big-girl dreams of writing a bestselling book at some point in my quiet little mom-life. Doing "some great thing" whether it's morphing into an Amazonian superhero and saving the world or giving the Twilight books lady a run for her money, is an empty hope that will never make me feel the way I want to feel.
Being a mom and getting to stay at home with Sam happens to be a dream that came true and I am totally confident that I am doing exactly the thing I was meant to do at this juncture in my life. However, the sense that the world is passing me by as I change those millions of diapers and do that endless pile of laundry is, at times, enough to make me despair a little. And so I daydream. I make plans. I plot how I'm going to do that "great thing" and somehow make everyone take notice. But, to be honest, deep down I know that no superhero skills or devastating beauty or mind-blowing wordsmithing is ever going to satisfy my need to matter or be approved of.
With brilliant simplicity, Tim Keller explains the deepest of truths and reminds me that it's not up to me to make sure that I matter, which is a really good thing because I'm not sure how to get my hands on a Lasso of Truth. Ebay's totally out and Amazon's charging more than I think they're worth.