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I Am Not a Superhero. I’m a Mom!

Last night was my first wake-up call to that fact that I do not have superhero powers to protect my children against pain, embarrassment, and hurt. It was a humbling and I have to admit, very tender experience for me to have. I guess I should back up a little bit?

It was the night of my three year old’s big ballet performance at Kingsbury Hall. She was a “bubble” for Glenda in the Wizard of Oz. Halfway through her big debut, another (three year old) prima ballerina fell on top of her, causing my little one to burst into tears and cover her face with her hands, and just sob, as one of the older ballerinas helped her to get off the stage. My first instinct was to jump up out of the audience and run to her rescue, as all I wanted to do was hold her and tell her she would be alright and that she was still the most beautiful and “bestest” ballerina in the world. Then my husband put his hand on my leg and whispered, “She is going to be just fine”. The intellectual part of me completely agreed and knew that she would recover, even if her little ego was bruised temporarily, but the mama bear inside of me just knew that I was the only one who could really help her to feel better. So a minute later, I couldn’t bear it any longer and decided to go and check on her. I made it to the door of the room where the ballerinas were staying while they were not performing and was met with the head male ballet master. He has been doing ballet since he was a young boy, and is now an older gentleman. He looked at me while he smoked a long cigarette and calmly told me in his sweet accent that my little girl was still a little sad but if I went in there, it would ruin the night, as it would make everything worse. He gently turned me around and asked me to go back to my seat.Wasatch Family Therapy

For some reason, I humbly turned around and walked back to my seat, feeling a little chastised by the ballet master but also knowing that he was absolutely right. Throughout the rest of the ballet, my mind wandered and wondered about this new situation I had found myself in. It made me realize that I can only do so much to protect them against the world and its sometimes unpleasant antics. While this was one the one hand a helpless feeling to experience, on the other, it was also a little liberating to give myself permission to just be human.

Too often as mothers and fathers, we think that we need to be an omnipotent force in our children’s lives- and to a point; we do need to be that. We are often the number one cheerleader, coach, EMT, teacher, friend, and snuggler that our children run to at the first moment of discomfort or fear. This is a good thing. You should be all of these things to a child. However, we also need to allow our children the right to have an experience that can strengthen their humility and humanity as well. They are much stronger and resilient than we give them credit for. If we are always the one scheduling every single minute and micromanaging every activity, we give them a disservice.

Children need to learn as a baby how to self-soothe so they can sleep through the night. A new mother will be the first to admit how agonizing those first few nights are when you give your baby space to comfort himself and go back to sleep by himself. A toddler learning to walk has to get a little bruised and battered as they then learn to run. A kindergartner needs to walk that long, scary walk to the door of her class all by herself that first morning so she finds the inner strength and knows  “I can do this!” A middle-schooler might need to cry herself to sleep at night because her friends are being mean and catty. A high schooler needs to learn how to drive a car and navigate the awkwardness of dating in order to be a competent adult. The list goes on and on as we grow and develop into healthy human beings.

For me, as the mom, I needed to learn that I am not the only source of strength in my child?s life. At the end of the night, my little one performed in the curtain call looking absolutely ecstatic and afterward, confidently told me, “Mommy, I think I am the very bestest ballerina in the world.”

What greater words could come from her little mouth and I knew that I could let go of my superhero powers a little bit… at least for the moment. Tonight, we both learned valuable life lessons.

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