I am Wonder Woman

My husband is in the hospital again.  Still dealing with the repercussions from his accident last May.  It’s more serious this time.  An infection has spread to the bone.  Let me use the technical term, just so I can feel the weight of it:  Osteomyelitis.

It’s serious and scary, but we are remaining hopeful and positive.

Over the weekend, while I was in the hospital I was browsing through Facebook and I saw that my friend, the super-talented Raine Szramski had liked this picture:

I snickered at the picture at first. But then I happened to look up and notice that the tote bag I have been using to carry books back and forth from the hospital was this one:

There it is, hanging on the bathroom door of this hospital room that we have become too comfortable in. It hangs there now as I write this.

It reminded me of how much I wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was a little girl. (I also wanted to be Nancy Drew, but that’s a different post.) My father was a football coach. We were always at some sporting event or another and I used to get paper cups from the concession stand, push the bottoms out and wear them on my wrists so they could be Wonder Woman’s bracelets. My mother never blinked an eye; I’m sure people around us would glance skeptically at this little girl constantly wearing paper cups as bracelets. This same little girl who would fashion tin foil into rings and bracelets and earrings and wear them at football games because she loved the way they sparkled under the stadium lights. I realize now that I wasn’t actually creating beautiful jewelry, the sparkle existed and grew within my imagination. That’s the kind of sparkle that really counts.

Today we are a family dealing with struggles. Physical, financial, the general stress involved with situations like these.  My paper cup bracelets aren’t going to help, but the spirit behind those bracelets still swells within me. Did you know Wonder Woman’s bracelets are made by a metal called Feminum?  Tell me that is not absolutely awesome.

Feminum was located on Paradise Island, the home of Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) a.k.a. “Wonder Woman,” a member of a race of Amazon warriors.

Prolonged exposure to Feminum gave these mighty female residents their super human strength and immortality. Via TV ACRES

The word Feminum resonates with me, it reinforces this idea I have that the connotation of the word feminine does not have to be sugar and sweetly pink and girly. We have this feminine strength that comes from something much deeper, something primal and fierce. Something Amazonian. There are many things about Pre-Raphaelite art that I respond to, but one of the greatest is that I love the image of woman as a Goddess:

Astarte Syriaca by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

It has been commented on a great deal that Rossetti had a tendency to make strange changes in women’s bodies when he painted them, especially with Jane Morris. He elongates her neck, he gives her cupid’s bow lips. When he painted her as Astarte Syriaca above, he did me a favor. He bestows upon her strong arms that are capable of anything, a steady gaze that could cause enemies to wither, a countenance that tells me that this Goddess fears nothing. She is calm and resolute. She is in control. In times like this, I would like to draw upon that strength.

These are the things that inspire me. A mixture of Wonder Woman, strong Goddesses, childhood memories of my own imagination and power. People have their own beliefs and faith, their own framework. In times of crisis, they ply you with platitudes that exist more for them than you. It is in these times that poetry and art feed my soul. Which made it such a wonderful coincidence when I saw this week that Kat Howard had just written about her experiences with poetry as prayer. I think of the line from To Autumn by Keats: Think not of them, thou hast thy music too and I know that in this moment I can make my own music, my own rhythm and I can overcome any obstacle. If I can not overcome, I can adapt. I’m in charge of my own tune and whatever the Universe throws at me, I can learn to harmonize.  I dig deep, I have my own version of Feminum.  I will wield it well.

I happened upon this image on Tumblr.  It’s the kind of Wonder Woman I am at this moment.  A little tired, battle-worn.  Give me a moment.  My strength always returns.

Whatever else I may achieve in my life, I hope that I can show my daughter that to be a woman of wonder can be many different things and she is free to make her own path.  Perhaps the struggles we endure now will feed her and inform her, so when she faces obstacles when she’s older, we can clink our imaginary Feminum bracelets together and slowly nod as if today say Today, I am a Goddess.  Today, I can face it all.  And then she’ll go on her own way and say I’ve got this, Mom.  I’ve got this.


17 thoughts on “I am Wonder Woman”

  1. Women with backbones made of steel…yep, we’re all Wonder Woman – Signed, disabled single parent of disabled child.

  2. Wow, Stephanie. You’ve done some powerful writing, but this one just floors me. Wishing your husband the fastest healing possible. Keep on keepin’ on. You are one amazing and beautiful soul, and passing your strength and integrity on to your daughter will be one of the greatest things you do in this life. Remember, too, that strength includes knowing when to lean on others for some respite. Gotta get your breath now and then, recover your power. Love that Tumblr image, it couldn’t be more appropriate. All the best to you and your family.

  3. I’m so sorry for the setback and hope and pray that it is temporary, that his health and well-being will be restored. You and your daughter look beautiful, capable and strong. He is lucky to have you both on his side.

  4. Wishing your husband a speedy recovery so he is home soon. You are a great mom and show your children how to get through a crisis. But even Wonder Woman needed help some time. Friends can really make a difference at a time like this. So I am sending you a hug through the internet and my wishes that everything goes well, Lisa

  5. Struggles like this are often so daunting–this post is incredibly inspiring for women everywhere! (and I love the way you connect it to the strength of Pre-Raphaelite women). Interesting the way that Rossetti always imbued Jane Morris with such strength in his paintings of her (when she was so frail in real life!). I wish you and your family the very best, and I hope your dear husband’s health improves.
    Warm regards,
    Margaret Lozano

  6. I am a follower of your blog since a few months, but I’ve never written anything here before.
    I feel close to you, my husband has been struggling with his health since right after Christmas and I really need to be the strong one, and to be there for our children as well.
    The image you suggest, a mixture between Wonder Woman, a Goddess and imagination is poetic and powerful at the same time. Thank you, I’ll keep it on my mind.
    I wish you and your family all the best!

  7. Stephanie, thank you for your moving words. I believe that just by writing them and sharing them, you ARE reaching out. I hope you will lean on all of us, as Linda said, just to catch your breath. Here are some words from Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn which have always comforted me:

    “Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a very long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.”

    And also, a quote from the poet Sara Teasdale:
    “Look for a lovely thing and you will find it, it is not far–it will never be far.”

  8. Stephanie, I only discovered your blog about a month ago. All of your entries are wonderful, but this one is particularly powerful. I, too, wanted to be Wonder Woman as a little girl (she was my first Halloween costume) and I discovered the works of the Pre-Raphaelites a few years later. I never would have thought to connect the two, but you’re absolutely right! I realize now that from a very early age I was drawn to images of very powerful, beautiful women.
    May we all remember that we’re wearing our Feminum bracelets at all times, even if we can’t see them.
    I’m sending many positive, healing thoughts to you and your family.

  9. I am chanting around the well sending good thoughts your way. You are a woman of wonder!–in many ways and a great inspiration to us all. Take care and know that you have many friends. Bless you and Tony.

  10. hi- just came across your blog while “rambling” on the laptop over lunch.

    Sorry to read that you’re an all-too-familiar hospital visitor; I know it’s no fun.

    Thankyou for an inspirtional post and a lovely P-R blog. My home is filled with Rossetti prints. I’ve loved him since I saw the Venus Verticordia in our local museum when I was a child and I often go back to spend time gazing. I guess it either gets you or it doesn’t!



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