I was in the local kosher market the other day when I bumped into a woman who’s one of those other-worldly types: a supermom, phenomenal person, community builder, successful with her career, the list goes on ad nauseam. But here’s the thing. I can’t just let someone like that walk by without lifting them up by the lapels and demanding an explanation. So there we were, she dangling two feet in the air and me, direct as ever, shining a bright light in her face to ask my burning question: What’s your secret?
The answer was rather unfortunate. She told me she wakes up every morning at 4:30am to accomplish all her to-dos while the house is still quiet. Now if you’re like me, you’re expecting to encounter a woman who is disciplined about her bedtime to compensate for the ungodly wake up time. No sir, not for this superwoman. Her 9 month old baby isn’t a “good sleeper” which translates into many late nights and every night’s sleep (every night!) brutally interrupted. This strategy for success is particularly regrettable since I can’t see or think straight without a strong cup of coffee (preferably two) first thing. And first thing better not be before 6:00am. Or else Mommy gets angry…very angry.
I guess I haven’t painted myself in the best light but the thought of waking up before the sun to take on the world is laughable. On the other hand, I’d love to grasp some version of the perfection that these rare species of overachieving women flaunt at the kosher market.
On weekday mornings, I set my clock about twenty minutes before my kids wake up which is EARLY. Occasionally, I wake up with my alarm clock and squeeze every second out of my twenty minutes. Some of the time, I press snooze once and wake up fifteen minutes before them. Still pretty good. Once in a while, I wake up just a few minutes before them and scramble to get dressed with one eye open.
But just the act of setting my alarm early to greet my kids with something warmer than an eyes-half-shut frown and some garbled incoherent grunt when they immediately ask for breakfast …that act alone gives me solace. I’ll never be this flashy wonder of a woman (Wonder Woman?) who miraculously keeps hot food freshly made on the stove in an immaculate house with squeaky clean children doing some creative craft that I set up for them. Mrs. Fabulous Homemaker doesn’t mix well with Mrs. Career or Mrs. Fitness or Mrs. Socialite or just the plain old Mrs. Normal (me).
Still, I won’t throw in the towel. One of my favorite speakers and writers, Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, a righteous man of blessed memory, discusses catching a glimmer of lightning. We all want to be lightning. Lightning is that flash and pizzazz that is so impressive and bright- success and perfection in all aspects of life. But, R’ Pincus points out we give up on this aspiration because it feels so unreachable. The idea is to aim for a glimmer. And a glimmer is about all I can swallow right now- I’ll take it. I’ll take it in the form of waking up just 20 minutes early, or greeting frustration with restraint, or just prioritizing the people and ideas I value over my hunger, temperature, limited budget, discomfort, low-energy or exhaustion. Maybe my glimmer will turn into more and I can take baby steps to eventually becoming that Wonder Woman in a kosher market.