Alyson Jenkins is the mother of two young sons and lives with her husband in the city of Boston. While she is enjoying her time as a stay at home mom, she dreams of a day when she can return to her professional helping role in psychotherapy, treating children and their families. In addition to receiving a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College, Alyson is an avid marathoner and fitness enthusiast. If you don't see her running or biking the city roads, she can be usually be found in her kitchen surrounded by vegetables, experimenting.
One of my dad’s friends always said, “What’s better than one Meidell? My sister and I would grin shouting in unison, “Two Meidells!” In our small California town, I was Brooke’s little sister, one of Pat’s daughters, and Mr. Meidell’s youngest girl (though people often thought my dad was my grandpa). Though I knew where I belonged, my life felt solely defined by my relationships — by being someone else's something.
Moving to a new city and later going on to college in a different state was an opportunity to develop my own identity, but when I married and eventually had children, I began to feel a bit lost again. I'm no longer Brooke's little sister, but I'm Mackay or Grant's mom or David's wife. Even before I married, because I have a Master's degree in Clinical Social Work, my life was focused on helping others, pushing for social change. And while I love and cherish all of these roles, they've made it difficult to further develop an independent identity: to be MY something.
Thinking about being the hero of my own journey, thanks to Whitney's inspiration, has really changed my life. As a woman and social worker, by nature and by training, being Robin — someone else's something — has been easy. Realizing I can also be Batman — my something — has been life-altering.
I've never felt like a hero. No single bound leaping here. However, when I look back on my past through this new lens, I see small acts of heroism. My first Batman experiences were leaving the city of my birth, going to college, obtaining degrees, and getting married, to name a few.
Before all this hero talk, I would have said it ended there, I think it's actually just beginning. I didn't recognize it then, learning to Be my Own Batman began in earnest after I had my first baby six years ago. Being a stay-at-home to a newborn was tedious, and truth-be-told, a little boring at times.
I looked to the women around me to learn something new. Judy taught me to knit. Ann taught me to sew. Stacey showed me the art of book binding. Heidi passed on her knowledge of jewelry making; I did end up selling my jewelry to boutiques. I then taught myself to cook, researching recipes and trying out new foods. And with some inspiration from my brother, I ran my first marathon. This was all just in the first year. When I look closely enough, I see in my actions small acts Batman-like heroism by finding space in my life for me.
As women we often identify heroics with Robin-like rescue missions. Who else can fly in and whip up a healthy meal from the paltry ingredients left in the fridge, complete with hors d'oeuvres and dessert for the friends who drop in? Who else can negotiate with insurgents to rescue an ill-fated art project from the grips of devious younger siblings? Encounter and restore order to a flooded laundry room and fix an unintentionally broken lamp? In my Robin world, this is a typical Monday night, but it is my Batman moments that provide the fuel.
I love being Robin, riding along in my husband and children's sidecars, championing all their efforts to move forward, but when I also see myself as Batman, with my husband and children riding along in my sidecar, I'm happier — so much happier — and not coincidentally, a much better Robin.
Will you put on the cape?
Be your own Batman?
How does your perspective change when you think of yourself as both Robin and Batman? Mary and Martha?
As you about brushing up on your Batman skills, what will you do differently? If you are currently in Batman shape, but moving into Robin territory, what will you do to hang on to Batman?