Sunday, May 10, 2015
When I was a child, I thought my mom was a superhero- as most mothers appear to their young children. I felt there was nothing she couldn't handle, no bad guy she couldn't conquer, no tree she couldn't help me climb and no sadness she couldn't erase with her stoic yet empathetic embrace. She cooked, cleaned, played with us, taught us and loved us with the verve and intent of every "good" mother. She nursed my sick little brother through years of hospital Chemotherapy without missing a beat at home, and led her four children with courage and strength through the wilderness of grief after our father died.
It wasn't until I birthed my own first child that I realized that, despite her superhero ways, my mother was in fact imperfect.
There was no deep epiphany or introspection that led me to this realization. There was no grave misdoing or misspoken words on my mother's part. Instead, it was within my own imperfections, hesitations and frailties that I came to understand that my mother was human with the very same fears, weaknesses, equivocations and insecurities as the rest of us.
I can remember sitting in the hospital bed on the day of our first daughter's birth, thinking how wholly unqualified I was to be a mother- to be charged with the responsibility to rear and develop another human life. Writhing in that cold, unfamiliar hospital room, I can remember that only my own inadequacies screamed louder than the seemingly unendurable pain.
I felt so unequipped to become a mother. I thought, "I'm only beginning to figure out my own life. How can I possibly be responsible for another?"
And then, I held my baby girl for the first time. I grasped her blue, screaming body with my own shaking hands. I gazed into her half-opened eyes that were so new yet so familiar, trying to make sense of this strange, cold world and I thought "I know this person." I clutched her tiny, wrinkled hands that were reaching for something familiar to hold onto, which was me. And in that moment, the insurmountable sea of imperfection, insecurity, hesitation and weakness gave way to one singular emotion: love.
The instantaneous love I felt for my baby in our first worldly encounter made absolutely everything else in life inconsequential. It didn't make me less imperfect, or less scared. But in that infinite well of new-found love, I understood the source of my own mother's superhero ways.
I knew that despite myself, despite the world and whatever hardships came my daughter's way, I would do everything in my power to ensure her health, safety and happiness. Regardless of the abyss of inadequacy and fear, my love for this new human would power my lifelong crusade to fight for her in every way.
And it was no different for my mother- an understandably scared 19 year old only on the precipice of womanhood, in a foreign country with no one but her new husband for support as she entered motherhood just like the rest of us; imperfect, inadequate and afraid. I knew she had found the infinite well of love that would power her through all of the burdens life would throw our way. I knew she had become a superhero in her own rite.
And in that sense, I came to understand that all mothers are beautifully flawed and imperfect superheros- sacrificing everything to ensure their children's happiness.
We will never be perfect.
We will never have all the answers.
We will never lead our children flawlessly into happiness and light.
But powered by that irrevocable, unconditional and unending love, we will do our very best to find the way.