One moment you’re sitting with family eating macaroni and cheese and the next moment your three year old is looking up at you with his wide eyes asking, in all sincerity, for you to save the world. Oh, oh, oh, if only I could. “Save the world, Mama. You have to save the world.”
Yet again, the humbling nature of motherhood almost brings me to my knees. My beautiful boy, my mischievous wonder, honest to goodness thinks it is within my capacity to save this broken world of ours. How long will it be until he realizes that world salvation is just a wee bit above my pay grade? And how crushed will he be when he learns the truth about his mama’s limitations?
When I am faced with one of these moments of clarity — when a child you are raising reveals the naive, but sweet belief that you can fix anything, that you can save everything, that you are the stars and moon and sun all rolled into a mom sized package, my first response is to run and hide, as I become fairly riddled with the weight of my glaring inadequacies when faced with the pure and unconditional awe in which my child holds me.
Sweet boy, if I could save the world, I would, for you and every other child who looks into his mama’s eyes the way you do mine. No one would be hungry, no one would be sick, no one would be abused, no one would be homeless. There would be no war, no guns, no politics, no mental illness, no bigotry, no racism, no fear, no hate, and just for good measure, no dirty laundry, either.
Wouldn’t that be grand? Alas, I am mortal, I am simply mom.
But my boy had a plan that made perfect sense, in a three year old kind of way. “The sky is where the peace is, Mama. We can pull the peace down and all be powered by peace.” I reached up at the dinner table, but my arms were stupidly short. They didn’t even reach the ceiling, let alone the sky. That image and idea of a vast supply of peace being warehoused up in the sky is a lovely one, though, isn’t it?
My three year old son loves superheroes and his plea for me to save the world gives every indication that he thinks of his mama as some type of superhero, akin to Wonder Woman. I am his Wonder Woman. The time in which my kids think of me this way is fleeting, I know, but as Peter Parker said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We must never abuse that love and faith our children gift us with every day.
As a mom, I can’t save the world. I can’t pull peace out of the sky when the situations calls for it. What I can do, what is within my pay grade and sometimes meager capacities, is to try my best to protect him, to save him from life’s cruelties, to make his little three year old world one of peace and kindness.
Doing these things is as close to being a superhero as I will ever get.