Most kids believe they have a super hero Mom at some point in their childhood. Who else can fight closet monsters and make pain go away with a kiss? The trouble with this vision is this: when do kids see who the mom behind the super hero mask really is?
I often think about my own Super Hero Mom, how I still run to her when I’m sad or scared. She still has that magical power to turn tears into smiles and my worries into dust. The difference between now and my childhood is I now know her true identity. I’ve seem the woman behind the mask and she is just like me, with fears of her own. She has just always been able to hide it better than others.
My Mom had a way of holding in the stuff that really hurt when we were children. When I was old enough to reflect on the times we experienced a death in the family I recall thinking how my Mom “kept it together.” I admired her for her strength – she was a Super Hero after all. She lost her brothers and my Dad’s Mom when I was little and all I remember is a little bit of sadness and a lot of “It’s going to be okay.”
It wasn’t until I was in college where I saw my Mom without her Super Hero mask. I’ll never forget the moment – the raw emotion and absolute transparency. From the sound of her voice to the way her face crumpled and her body went limp. And the pain, the pain seemed to pour out of her entire body. I felt completely helpless watching the woman who held me up for all these years fall apart before my eyes. In that moment, all I wanted to do was kiss her boo boos and make it all better.
My Mom is human – just like you and me – so it was only a matter of time before I saw who she really was without the Super Hero Mask.
As Annabelle and Ailey grow up I can only hope to stand as a constant pillar of support. There will be times when I may fall, as it’s human nature to be overcome by emotion. She has taught me the importance of being strong, but also acknowledging when everything’s not alright.
When my cousin suddenly passed away two summers ago I hid in my bedroom, using a pillow to muffle my sobs. I knew the girls were too little to witness my uncontrollable breakdown. If I revealed the source of my sadness I would be toeing the line of preserving their innocence. There are just some times when you hide scary stuff children can’t understand.
Real Moms Cry Too
Showing true emotion in front of your children allows them to see you are human. It also helps teach them to be comfortable with their own feelings. There is just a right and a wrong time to take down the veil of innocence shielding our children from the darkness and evil in the world.
Some day my daughters will see me without my mask and cape. They’ll realize their Mom is just like them – with her own feelings, her own pain, and her own fears. But for now, let’s just lay here a little while, letting them think I’m made of magic.