Before tucking my three young children (ages 3, 6, and 8) into bed, I look through their bookshelf to find a bedtime story. My contacts sticking to my eyes, too tired to read Princess in Black for the 18,000th time, I close my eyes and lay with them, telling my own story.
“Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived in a village. She looked like everyone else but she had the most magical superpowers she was able to fight off worries and carry the invisible weight of emotional baggage, on both of her shoulders, all while making snacks at any hour of the day. The little people of her village called her ‘mom.’ In fact, the whole village was filled with these magical superheroes. Instead of capes, some wore suits with blazers, and some wore yoga pants. While they each had their own strengths, they all went by the same name and the children of the village relied on them for everything.
To regain their superpowers the ‘moms’ would meet up with their superhero friends. Together they would sip on magical beans that allowed them to see straight and made them feel like they could conquer anything. Both the kinship and magic beans together strengthened their bond and abilities to conquer the world. The ‘moms’ didn’t say “cowabunga,” “kapow,” or “holy hotcakes Batman.” Using a hug, a stare, or hands on their hips, they could communicate without even saying a word.
But one day, there was a terrible pandemic. The people of the village couldn’t go to school, or playgrounds. The ‘Moms’ weren’t able to meet up with her other superhero friends, the support system they relied on. They would each have to discover if they could navigate on their strengths alone.
The Daily Planet reported they were relied on now more than ever, but of all of the elected officials, no one in Gotham City’s town hall did much about it. The ‘Moms’ grappled with the demands of their careers, online schooling, caregiving, and relationships. They were left to hold everything together as the world crumbled around them. What would happen? Until next time…”
I wake up the next day in my toddlers bed, tucked into his Happy Napper, having fallen asleep telling my own story. My children don’t bother asking if it was true. I however, try to remind myself that it is true- I created the life of three beings, I sustain them, and I raise them to practice using their powers for good. I use my strengths to teach right from wrong, to be allies, to engage in our communities, and to use our voice to speak up to influence change. I even like to believe that I come from an unbroken line of superheroes. Our superpowers lay the foundation for the next generation. I instill the importance of speaking up- to go into the world making it a safe and welcoming place for all communities. Mothers don’t have the luxury of changing in and out of their capes- a shirt for zoom meetings and leggings for action suffice.
Mothers persevere, paving paths, and standing their ground in spaces dominated by men, creating change through action, social justice, and leading by example. Young boys and girls alike need to hear stories of mothers who like superheroes, believe in their powers, digging deep to find the energy to amplify their voices, not knowing if their message will be absorbed by the little people in their village. As mothers, we have weaknesses, arch nemesis, and the need to recharge- which all stand as a reminder that we are in fact mortal.
Now more than ever, mothers need to be reminded of their strengths and even though we might be fighting battles on our own, we stand together in fighting the good fight.
About the author: Jessica Keith is a professional lecturer at San Diego State University. When she’s not busy saying, “don’t make me repeat myself,” to her children (ages 3, 6, and 9), she is getting paid to discuss the diverse implications of repeating oneself, teaching Cross-Cultural Communication. www.jessicakeithwriter.com