I married a nerd. I’ve become well versed in all things Superhero by association. Though I fought it for a while, I finally gave in to the reality that one or more of my children would probably become nerds, on some level, themselves. Slowly, I’ve found myself accepting the action figures, trading cards and comic books as just another part of the collection of items that regularly “decorate” the floors of our home.
As a mom deeply concerned with what the media teaches my children, this comic book universe of heroes vs. villains made me nervous. I imagined my kids, like my husband, thinking the villains were “really cool” and getting the opposite message out of the stories that I’d like them to. Not to mention the less-than-tasteful clothing most of the female superheroes wore. So much spandex…yet, somehow never enough. And all that fighting! Why couldn’t those comic book characters just get along?!
Having been on the receiving end of attacks by real-life villains, I’d become one of “those moms”. The over-protecting, constantly worried, sheltering kind. I shielded my kids from anything involving fighting of any kind. I wanted them submerged in a world comprised entirely of “good guys”. No bad guys allowed!
As hard as I’d tried to steer my kids’ attention in other directions, I couldn’t keep them hidden from my husband’s genetics. Their natural nerdy side was rising to the surface, particularly in my second child. She knew her daddy loved superheroes and she wanted in on the action. I could see that my efforts would be put to better use coming alongside her interest rather than trying to push her towards something “safer”. As I did this, God came alongside me, gently reminding me that a universe full of heroes and villains really did exist…and we were living in it.
My sweet little girl is now rarely seen without one of her many capes. One to match every outfit. (She’s still a girly-girl, after all 😉 ) “Flying” back and forth on my bed as I attempt to fold laundry, she tells me about all of the ways she plans to team up with her favorite superheroes to stop the bad guys and save the world. Each of these conversations has been an opportunity for us to talk about all of the little ways that she “saves the day” in the lives of those around her. I want her to know that evil does exist. That she does have a very real Enemy and that there will be times when she will have to fight for justice. That the world really does need heroes…and that it doesn’t take super-human strength to be one.
My definition of a hero has changed completely since I became a Mama. Each day, my children remind me that the “little things” we do for one another are often the most impactful. I watch as my daughter chooses to keep on loving her sibling with special needs, on good days and bad, with depth and compassion, all while not treating her any differently than anyone else. That alone makes her not only my daughter’s hero, but mine. She’s showing the world that her sister, regardless of disability, has the same basic needs that we all do: to be loved and accepted just as we are. She’s showing the world that we all deserve respect. Equally. And she’s doing it without expectation of reward. Simply because it’s the right thing to do.
My children do so many things every day that continue to inspire me to be heroic. To be courageous. To be selfless and kind-hearted. Not because they’re perfect, but because they’re following the example of The One who is. (And no, I’m not talking about Batman.)
We are commanded to love one another as God has loved us. (John 13:34-35) He loved us enough to give up His life for us. And, though not all of us will be asked to risk our lives for someone else, we can show a kind of love that can change the lives of those around us…a kind of love that can change the world. As corny as it sounds, the truth is that it can take very little to make a hero or a villain out of each of us. My prayer is that my children will always desire to be one of the “good guys”.
I want my daughter to know that being a superhero is possible. I want her to know that she already is one…and that all it took was kindness.