On Superpowers Great & Small

I really won the married surname lottery with Powers, huh? I mean the baby name possibilities alone are endlessly entertaining (at least if you like bad puns as much as Bryan and I do…wait, you don’t? Oh.). There’s Austin, of course. Please ask me if one of my kids is named Austin when we first meet. I will try to act like you’re really original. And Max, future superhero. Vito Powers for those who are Italian and/or politically inclined, and the whole gamut of energy-related names like Solar and Green (confession: I actually suggested the name Cole before Bryan pointed this out by saying, ever so kindly, “how about Steam?”).

So this post is supposed to be about how I named this little blog and not how I did NOT name my children, but that was fun, don’t you agree? Now to the point. Just kidding, of course. But pointing ourselves in the direction of the point, at least.

Setting the obvious aside (I am a Powers. I have children. They are mine. I shall write about them on this blog. I shall not be grammatically obnoxious and call it Powerses of Mine. The end.), I had this moment when my daughter was a few months old where I did, in fact, feel like I possessed a kind of superpower. It was shortly after I returned to work and was figuring out the whole pumping thing –

[WAIT WAIT! Don’t click away yet. I promise this is not a story about whether or not to work outside the home, or whether or not to breastfeed or pump, or how doing or not doing any of these things will give you or not give you superpowers or make you superior to others who choose to do the opposite of what you chose to do. I swear. It just starts with working and pumping. Stay with me.]

– and I remember thinking rather smugly as I walked through the cubicle hallways: I am doing everything you people are doing today AND I am also at the same time keeping an entire human alive who is not even in this building. I’m chatting by the coffee machine and taking notes and going to meetings and doing everything I used to do at this job pre-baby and all the while I’m ALSO MAKING SECRET MILK.

It did feel like a secret superpower, the whole lactating thing, but it wasn’t just about the milk. I felt like I had somehow stumbled upon an entire layer of capability I didn’t know I had. I was everything I had been before I became a parent and I was also at the same time a whole additional person I had never been before. People sometimes talk about having a child as a sacrifice or trade-off, and I totally get that – you give up sleep and flexibility and money and sanity and high heels in varying degrees depending on who you are and the choices you make, and you tell people “it’s totally worth it!” which is something you may or may not believe depending on how crappy your day has been – but that just wasn’t how the experience was for me. I felt only that I had been added-to, supplemented, filled in in places I didn’t know needed filling.

The superpowers epiphany for me was a feeling that I had somehow unlocked another self. And instead of the old/new identity crisis we’re told to experience as new moms, I honestly felt like I got to be both, that the Superman costume under my Clark Kent suit (which, if you’ve been following along, you of course realize is a hideous nursing bra under an ill-fitting Old Navy cardigan) wasn’t something I had to keep hidden and change into only when the moment required, but that it was here now, always, another layer of me that just made me more of, well, me.

My superpowers having nothing to do with “doing it all.” Whenever possible, I prefer to do less. My superpowers are about accessing a part of myself that was born when my daughter was – the parent part – acknowledging that it is both far from perfect and also far more capable than I could ever imagine, and aligning it with the rest of me. To me this feels important, and it feels hard, and it feels worthy, and it feels fulfilling, and it feels at once grave and exhilarating, which is what I would imagine having superpowers of the comic book variety would feel like.

Also my last name is Powers, which turned out to be super convenient for this whole naming-a-blog thing.


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