I'm on year 13 with boys. They are now 13, 6 and 5. Over the years, I've seen, heard, read story after story about, made and bought costumes of, and endured countless conversations about every hero they've cycled through from Anakin to Zorro. The other day, as I was reading yet another rant about either Miley or the Biebs and how they are awful role models to kids these days and blah blah, and I asked myself who my hero was growing up. I was trying to think back to who I looked up to when I was a kid. My family immediately came to mind.
No matter what my tortured teenage drama or tweenage moody phases brought me, one thing remained constant and that was my mom's unconditional love and endless supply of confidence in me even when I didn't believe in myself. She was beautiful and kind and never uttered a bad word about anyone. She always had a smile on her face even when she was exhausted from making sure my dad, brother and I were taken care of from the start of the day to the finish. Even now, she is still that person to me. She wore the cape in the family without even knowing it....and even now, as she pushes herself to take care of my aging grandparents, and her grandchildren - and everyone in between, that cape is still on - slightly faded and tattered, but still full of superpowers.
And I thought of my dad.
My dad was the silent hero. His powers were different. He had the power to get up every day and go to work to provide for us. He sacrificed to give us what we needed. He educated us and he raised the bar high so that we could aim for better in our lives. He worried about everyone and everything so that we never had to.
My brother was my idol, too.
He was the big brother everyone wanted. He was handsome and smart, funny and easy going. He looked out for me, not with hawk eyes but with gentle charm. With love and trust, he carved out a path for me and encouraged me often. He was always there to help with anything I needed. My brother was the role model that never let me down. Even when I had nightmares that the Wicked Witch of the West was flying around my room trying to get me, he let me sleep in his room and gave me a blanket and told me there was no such thing as witches. He helped me conquer my fears.
Over the years, without even knowing it, my family taught me to wear the cape. When I struggled with a failing marriage and the birth of my first born, they told me I could do it and to stay strong. I fought the kryptonite with everything I had...my kryptonite was the struggles I would soon face being a single mom, the fears of leaving a marriage, and admitting to myself and to the world that I was unsuccessful in saving a marriage. I fought the kryptonite that weakened me in the knees from the intense fear of facing the world alone with a baby. But I did it. The cape was on. The cape was the love of my family and friends who supported me unconditionally telling me to look forward, and to believe in a better day - and it worked. It gave me superpowers. The power of forgiveness, the power to love myself, the power to live life again without regret. It was even this power that gave me the courage to love my husband and believe that I was worth a second shot at a beautiful marriage. Wonderwoman had nothing on me. I was now my own Superhero.
I realized while pondering all of this the other day, that even though my kids have been obsessed for years with all of these characters, the real superheroes have been my husband and me.
Who taught them to be brave while getting a shot at the Dr.'s office even though we, too, were crying inside thinking about their pain or fear? And the times they needed tests run and blood drawn when we were worried about what the outcome would be but played it cool and told them it was going to be just fine?
Who held them late at night and told them stories of superheroes while we nursed their fevers and silently prayed that it was just a passing virus and nothing more serious?
Who choked back tears when they begged us not to leave them on their first day of pre-school when really we just wanted to tell them they didn't have to go and scoop them back up in our arms to take them home?
We are there for them when they have nightmares, when they have a bad day, when they don't feel well, and when they are scared. We have the power to make everything better, to right the wrongs, to lighten the load, and to brighten their days. We are there for them on the good days, and when they reach what seemed like an unreachable goal we celebrate with them and tell them we never doubted that they could do it for even a minute. We're teaching them to wear their very own cape and we are sewing it together with laughter, encouragement and love so that one day they will fly - no - not just fly - but soar beautifully and with confidence.
We wear the capes. Every day. We smile and laugh and encourage them through so many difficult trials. Things that would be so much easier to not have to do, but we do it. We use what we have. We give them our all. We. Are. Superheroes. WE are the bright light in their lives. We are teaching them to light their way, too.
We fight against the strongest forces of evil, terrorism, shootings, hurricanes and disasters. We are brave for our children and tell them about the good guys, even on the days when we ourselves are terrified. We battle depression and worry and show courage to our kids, even when bravery and courage are the last available emotions we can find. We look for the good. We have hope. We have promise. We believe that everything will be okay. We have to do this for their sake. We become strong for them. They make us strong. Because of them, we are superheroes.
We have the power to be the most positive role model our children can have. We have the ability to be the idols - the superheroes - the superstars.
We wear the capes.
In a world where it seems so rare to find a role model who won't let you down, it's comforting knowing the real good guys are right here in our own home. Look around you. Who are your real superheroes? Girlfriends who get you through even the worst of times? A teacher you had? A boss or coworker who is always there to cheer you on or to comfort you or catch you when you fall? Your spouse? Your kids? If you pay attention, you'll see the real superheroes are closer than you think.
To the countless teachers who go the extra mile to the kids who might not have someone at home - thank you.
And...To the soldiers who leave their families behind to fight for our freedom - thank you.
And...To the people who stand up for others, help the underdogs, give their time to those less fortunate - thank you.
To all the real 'good guys', near and far...thank you.
Finally, to Superman, Batman & Robin, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Spiderman - and the countless number of fictitious superheroes...thank you for being a pleasant distraction. I, for one, am grateful my kids have the best of both worlds.
|And let's not forget humor...one of the greatest superpowers you can possess.|
Cheers, Love and Gratitude,