My two-and-a-half-year-old son was struggling to swallow down his breakfast, and sullenly inquired about why he had to go to school so early. “Because Mamma has to work, sweetie, and you have to work too — in school.” He smiles and asks if I am going to sing (I’m a musician, but have also recently returned to working as a therapist).
“No, sweetie, mamma has just started a new job.”
“What mamma doing?”
“Mamma helps people that are sad or scared.”
“Sad?” he asks, mirroring the same emotion in his face, bordering adapting it all together.
“Yes, mamma helps people with “ouchies” in their feelings.”
As it dawns on him, he beams: “Yes! Mamma kisses people… work!”
Nearly choking on my nasally returning coffee, I smiled. “Yes, sweetie. Mamma kisses with her words when she is working.”
Satisfied with this, he asked for a kiss and wanted “five more minutes” of trains before departure.
Like every morning, I was letting precious quality time with my son go by, while frantically trying to get out the door on time with a clothed child, bags packed and breakfast consumed. Finally, in the car with the child safely strapped in, pacifier negotiations resolved, and teddy bear crackers distributed, I realized: I have a superpower! For a very brief time of my life, as short lived as maybe one or two years, a beautiful little person with adoring and admiring eyes will look at me and from the bottom of his heart believe that Mamma in fact has the magical, supernatural ability to heal with a kiss.
He believes this because he has himself experienced so many times with skinned knees, bruised shins, bumped forehead and squashed fingers that Mamma can sit down, caress his injured body part, kiss it tenderly, and tell him with a convincing tone: “There! All better!” And it will, if not completely heal the injury, at least alleviate the pain significantly.
Virtually dressed in spandex and cape, I felt really good about my mothering for the next few days.
So often parents second-guess themselves, regret, ruminate, and dwell over the difficult aspects of parenthood. I do, too. It felt incredible to realize, that in spite of all my trials and tribulations as the creator and facilitator of a new individual to walk this earth, I was being perceived as someone with a pretty cool superpower! Virtually dressed in spandex and cape, I felt really good about my mothering for the next few days.
But the fall is so grand from the top of the world, isn’t it! How detrimental for the superhero to realize she has lost her powers! And worse, even — that one’s biggest (smallest) fan discovers your lack of omnipotency. The same adoring and ever-so-faithful eyes were all bloodshot from an inferno-high fever, as he looked at me through rivers of tears, stretching out his flaccid arms. “Mamma, kiss and make it go away.” My heart sank to the bottom of the deepest wells of the center of the earth. My kisses had no healing powers: Mamma can’t fix it this time. Again he solicits a kiss, and again I fail to chase away his suffering.
Luckily, the flu episode did not elicit any further doubt in my healing powers. Just a few days after my son’s fever had put a spell on my powers, my son had forgotten about the temporary mortality I had exhibited. So, unless there’s another flu and/or kryptonite strike in the next year or so, I am still Supermom in his eyes. Sometimes… when I am not saying things like “No,” “Bedtime,” and “No more trains,” etc.