When Your Kids Realize You Don't Actually Have Any Mommy Superpowers
One of the hardest lessons that I have had to face in my journey as a parent didn’t happen overnight, but was a process that slowly happened over time. It was the day my children realized that I was only human, and that I didn’t possess a magic wand that I could wave around to make bad things disappear.
When my children were tiny and they’d fall and scrape their knee, I could always make things better with my Magical Mommy Hug™. It was a mythical spell of great proportions, guaranteed to make all tears disappear. It made me feel powerful, like the mighty Wizard of Oz himself. My little ones believed that I was something of a God, and I felt intoxicated by the power they bestowed on me...the Power of Mommy...the ability to make things better always.
Then magically, just as almighty Oz’s curtain was ripped away, exposing his little human shape—my own limited powers were also exposed—revealing to my children that I was nothing but a mere mortal. Nothing more, nothing less. It was a process that snuck up on all of us over time as my children began facing some of the inevitable hardships and disappointments in their lives; like when a close and longtime friend decided to start hanging out with someone else, being passed over for first chair in band, not making the starting position in soccer, or facing the agony of unrequited love.
Whatever the disappointment was, one thing was certain: Mommy no longer had the power to make everything better anymore. Lord knows I wanted to, and I still do! Even today, when my daughters face pain, every part of me wants to scoop them up and transport them back to a time when they were oblivious to the disappointments in life and all that they needed to know was that I had the power to make all the bad stuff go away with my magical mommy ways. But at some point, we need to face reality and start teaching them things like the power of letting go.
I wish that I could say it gets easier to watch your children face life’s harsh and cruel disappointments and defeats, but it doesn’t. No matter how old our kids are, when they hurt, we hurt. When they are disappointed, we are disappointed. We will always want to protect our children from their pains— it’s hardwired deep within us.
These primal maternal instincts are necessary for us to carry on our species, so yes, in the early days of our children’s lives, our job is to shield them from pain, to protect and nurture them. But as they begin to mature, our job then must shift from one who protects to one who steps back and lets them learn to fall. As parents, we first give our babies roots, but then equally important, we must find a way to give them wings to fly. We owe it to them to put our magic wands away at some point and let them face life, as cruel and painful as that sometimes can be.
Am I there? Well, today my daughter faced a huge– and I mean devastating– disappointment, and the first thing that I instinctively did was to hold her while she cried. Her pain was mine and I ached inside, wanting so desperately to kiss away her tears as I did so many moons ago.
Once the reality set in that I really didn’t have any magic powers, I immediately went to the only real magic that I possess these days, and that is my Magical Mommy Pep Talk™. I told her that when one door closes, another one opens in its place. I also told her how amazingly strong and brave she is, assuring her that I had every confidence that she would rise above this, and one day not remember it as an obstacle at all, but rather as an opportunity.
When I finally left her to FaceTime a friend, I could hear her saying with a newfound air of confidence, “Well, you know when one door closes, another one opens, so maybe this happened for a reason.” I looked down at my magic wand and smiled thinking, “Maybe you do have a little power left in you after all.”
Do you remember that exact moment when your kids found out you aren’t god after all? Share your stories with us!
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