A roommate of mine in California once referred to me as an 80s movie heroine, commenting on my relentless determination for survival in Los Angeles. He only caught me in the apartment between midnight and 6am, the rest of the time I was on a hustle. When I didn’t have any cash, I worked, when I wanted to go to school, I worked even harder, and when I didn’t have transportation to get to work or school, I rode my bike through the insanity of traffic that took me from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills to Culver City. I must admit I never fully understood his reference (I was born in the late 80s) but I found comfort in it, if somehow this chaos made me some kind of hero, well then this concept made life a bit more exciting.
Two more years in LA and three in South Africa later, I find myself back in Cleveland, Ohio living life parallel to my chaotic existence in Los Angeles, this time as a single mom on the fine border between what could be considered heroic or pathetic. This time around I clumsily (or perhaps gracefully) juggle life between my parents house, my sister’s apartment, my job downtown, and the ongoing task of being a mother. Getting ready for work is now a 3 hour routine of breast feeding, changing diapers, changing clothes, getting spit up or peed on, changing clothes again and somehow making it out the door in time to get to the babysitter and my office. When he has a morning melt-down I at times have one too, and almost, almost, want to give up. But then I remember the 80s heroine persona that my roommate saw in me. If you’ve ever seen an 80s movie or maybe at least a Marvel movie, you will know that the heroine never gives up. So once again I’m faced with the opportunity to apply the wisdom of Victor Frankl (among my favorite psychologists), to choose a new disposition. If Victor Frankl could keep a positive and hopeful disposition in a concentration camp I sure as hell can as a single mom in Cleveland. It may look like winter for the bulk of the year, but rent can get paid on a part-time salary, food is easily accessible, the lake somewhat resembles the ocean, and Public health care still has my back (for now). In most stressful situations with my son, that disposition is usually laughter, and on those days where life could feel pathetic, I like to take on the persona of mommy heroine.