The invisible mother

Ask people what superpower they would like, and they will often answer, “invisibility.” The idea that you can move about undetected is intriguing. You could uncover government secrets or spy on a suspicious neighbor. The lure of being unseen is peppered throughout pop culture, from Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak to the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman.

But is it really so great to be invisible?

My neighborhood has become more crowded over the years, and the increased foot traffic has made it an attractive spot for activists to pitch their cause. I’ll be blunt, I normally find these people annoying at best and threatening at worse. On a recent outing with my sons, however, one activist stood out. As I sat on a park bench eating the foccacia I just bought at the nearby farmers’ market, I watched as this young woman eagerly tried to gain the attention of passersby. Through dozens of people saying, “no,” and many more blatantly ignoring her, she remained positive and upbeat.

She wasn’t a Marvel superhero, yet she was invisible.

Being seen is a struggle for all women, but especially mothers who are home with their children. Though we are rarely physically alone, we often feel isolated in our own worlds. There are many days when our only adult interactions are with the cashier at the supermarket or exchanging pleasantries with people on the street. Our time is consumed by our little ones, and by caring for them, they become an extension of ourselves. The lines between woman, wife and mother have blended, leaving us questioning who we are.

I can already hear the words from those saying stay-at-home moms should be grateful. We shouldn’t complain about our privileged lives. We are lucky to have the opportunity to be home, when so many mothers have to work, often more than one job. If we can’t handle our kids, we shouldn’t have gotten pregnant. And so on.

So, we keep our mouths shut. We stay quiet because we feel we haven’t earned the right to vent our frustrations. As women, we worry that by expressing anything other than happiness with our lot, we will come off as bitchy and bitter. As moms, we feel this even more, because we are supposed to love every minute of parenthood. To savor the good with the bad.

And that makes us feel invisible.

I have written about my struggle to find other mothers with whom to connect, and how blogging has helped me find my virtual village. Sharing my thoughts, and thoughts of other writers I admire, has aided my desire to add to the parenting dialog and be a part of a world beyond my kids. I have also found that by opening up, I have received so much in return. That’s the thing about conversation; it takes more than one voice to make it work.

Whether it’s with a shout or a whisper, we all deserve to be seen, to be heard and to be part of the conversation.

If they decide to reboot “Fantastic Four” (again), perhaps they can replace the Invisible Woman with the In Your Face Mama.

That sounds like a superhero to me.

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