Even Wonder Woman Can’t Fix the Unfixable

Tonight’s 10 p.m. wish: that I knew several years ago what I know now. Some things are not “fixable.”towel ears (360x480)

There I am, four years ago. I was crazy in love with my baby daughter, and crushed by the weight of a job that didn’t allow me to be the kind of parent I desperately wanted to be.

I pride myself on being strong, resourceful and determined. When something is wrong, I can almost always figure out how to push past it, or work around it, or at least patch it up so it’s a lot prettier.

But sometimes, there are situations that even we Wonder Women have to admit, we cannot repair. You could call it a “broken scenario” or a “lost cause.”

Doctors use a different phrase: “incompatible with life.”

Four years ago, that’s exactly what I discovered had happened with the television news career I once loved. It had become a nightmare. My work was incompatible with life. It didn’t feel fulfilling any more but much worse, the schedule simply didn’t work for my family. I had a baby, two kids in grade school, and a husband who worked nights and weekends, with lots of travel. There was no way around the fact that no matter how hard I tried to make everything fit in, it just COULDN’T fit. But coming to grips with that fact was a slow, painful struggle.trish profile

I kept the “news lady” smile on my face that I assumed everyone expected and covered up the dark circles under my eyes with TV-grade concealer, but underneath it all I was coming apart. I knew I wasn’t the only one facing this kind of work-life crisis. I spent a very tough year writing every day, mostly to stay sane.

By the end of that year, an unexpected door opened to a whole new life.

I have just finished turning that diary (and some life lessons gleaned in hindsight) into a book, “Know When to Run: Lessons from the Diary of a Gen X Mom.” I am expecting to publish it in August. I will share the date and link here when I have it!

Tonight, I’ll share this small book excerpt with you – a chapter capturing one of the many days when I was carrying an impossible load. (This day happened very soon after I returned from maternity leave. Day by day, things grew even tougher, and my body and mind paid an ever-growing price.)

I can’t grant my wish of teaching my past “Wonder Woman” self what I know now about recognizing when it is time to run from an unhealthy situation. But I can only hope that maybe my story will help someone else see what I couldn’t back then.

“Wonder Woman” (An excerpt from “Know When to Run: Lessons from the Diary of a Gen X Mom”)

August 5

            I am Wonder Woman today. I muscled our trio through the grocery store this morning with Daisy in the Baby Bjorn, Clara “driving” the giant cart with a car on the front and Calvin pushing his own mini-cart. I wanted a strong sedative by the time we got done, but at least I managed to remember the most critical item on the list: diapers.

            I got the dishes done, laundry started, myself showered and baby nursed, kids lunched. Then I headed in for a grueling day at work. Before I even got on the interstate I got a phone call from the newsroom. “There’s been a mass shooting today. Get ready to hustle.”

             I got sent out to a rough neighborhood in sauna-like heat to cover an emotional gathering of grieving family members and enraged community leaders. I raced against the deadline to get my story into the 5 p.m. news, returned to the TV station and ran upstairs to pump Daisy some milk for tomorrow, anchored the newscasts at 6 and 7, then stayed late to shoot a bunch of fancy promos with New Todd telling viewers to watch us. I ate a burrito in the car as I jetted home for my late “dinner break,” nursed crying Daisy until she was happy again, read Clara a book about Barbie and read Cal a book about poisonous snakes.

I left them with the sitter and hurried back to the station, put together a new story on the shooting victims for the 11 p.m. news, and checked in with my stressed-out hubby by phone as he drove home from his own wild day at work. I rallied every last drop of energy left to prop myself up on the anchor desk for one last show.

            I am daydreaming right now that I will go to bed tonight and magically wake up in a cabin in the mountains—a cool, crisp morning with a field of wildflowers and a creek bubbling over rocks right next to my window (my favorite sound in the world). No clocks, no responsibilities. I sit on the porch, sip my coffee slowly, stare at the flowers and the water and the sky, and breathe.

            And then, I turn my head and look at the handsome guy sitting next to me. I grab his hand, put my head on his shoulder, and just sit. Together. Peaceful. Whole. Free.

Lesson: When things get tough, you may find yourself tempted to overcompensate by trying to be a superhero. Listen to the fantasies that pull you toward a quieter, more serene version of yourself.


Trisha Lawless
Trisha Lawless
Trisha Lawless is an Indianapolis-based corporate communications advisor and freelance writer who began her career as a television news journalist. She enjoys performing in local theatre productions as her schedule permits, and has appeared in roles with Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis Civic Theatre, and BobDirex. Trisha and her husband Ben are proud residents of Indy’s Historic Irvington neighborhood where they live with their children (middle school through college age) and Golden Retriever.

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