Superhero: a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman or Wonderwoman.
Let’s talk about Superheros for a moment. When we were kids, we would read about these people who had incredible powers and they used them for the good of the world. They were super strong, and fast. They were brave and clever. They could do 100 different things at once and still manage to save the cat from the tree. They overcame adversity in the most unique of forms and since they were superheroes, they made it look easy.
I grew up watching Star Wars at least 3 times a month with my dad. When you think of Star Wars, you might not necessarily think of superheroes. After all, this was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Instead, you think of the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Empire, Good vs. Evil. Personally, the Imperial March is what I would consider being my life’s theme song. It will likely be played at my funeral and if I should ever run a business someday, I hope that song is played when I walk into a room. Darth Vader and I relate on a certain level- you know since we are just misunderstood parents who deal with a mini version of us talking back and not doing what we ask them to do. I can understand why he decided to take a vacation and build an empire. I get it. No shame. Even our internal villain needs to rest.
But like in the movies, (SPOILER ALERT) good always wins. The heroes pull through every difficult situation where all hope is lost, there is no backup plan, and the future looks very bleak. They pull through and not only do they make it out alive- they come out stronger and bonded together.
I like to think life might be like a superhero movie. Weird perspective, I know but just bear with me for a second. I keep going back to the NICU because that is where I first encountered superhero strength. It wasn’t me “using the force” and it wasn’t like Hercules coming up from Hades’ soul pit, glowing and earning the title of hero and god. I watched Mark fight for his life. This little 1 pound, 7 ounce baby, no bigger than my hand from fingertip to wrist, was fighting. He had a machine violently shaking his chest and every breath took so much out of him. He was alone, in a box and he was fighting for his life.
As his mother, I wasn’t even allowed to hold him. I didn’t actually get to hold him against me until he was 38 days old. I couldn’t sit there and rub his head or pat his back or play with his hair and sing to him so quietly in his ear. Instead, I had to sit back and I had to watch him fight a battle all on his own. He had no training, no super cool weapon to defend himself against the evils of prematurity (if you want to call it that). He didn’t even have a trusty sidekick. Also, sorry kid… your parents don’t have the bank account of Bruce Wayne.
“Never tell me the odds” -Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back.
“I’m not always able to choose my battles… but effective immediately, I’m going to make an effort to choose the battles that matter” – Captain America, Mark Waid’s Capmania Miniseries.
“I am willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves“- Diana Prince/ Wonderwoman (2017).
“I find your lack of faith disturbing“- Darth Vader, A New Hope.
So maybe that last one isn’t TECHNICALLY a superhero quote, but use it internally and it’s a real motivation mover in terms of faith within yourself. Han Solo’s quote always resonated with me- even at a young age. I slowly realized that I can beat the odds- whatever was against me. I could beat it.
It was on repeat in my head soon after my brother died, and when school got hard. It was screaming in my head when Mark was in the NICU. Time and time again we were told that the “odds weren’t in Mark’s favor”, or “The odds he will go home are very little”, or “The odds he will pull through are slim.” If telepathy were a real thing, you bet I was trying to Charles Xavier that quote to Mark every single day.
When things would turn around, in a good way, in the NICU, I would hear Vader’s quote in my mind. It’s almost as if Mark was trying to out-Professor-X me by saying “I got this. Trust me.”
I don’t like to compare myself to Wonderwoman because that is a title I don’t feel I deserve. However, I will always advocate for those who can’t do it for themselves. I wonder if this is a trait I picked up advocating for Mark in the NICU. Then I remembered a time when I was in the 6th grade and a 5th grader was picking on Mark Allen (my brother). I stood up to that 5th grader and told him that if he ever messed with my little brother again I would beat his butt (for lack of a better term). I bullied the bully. I know, I know. Two wrongs don’t make a right but three lefts make a right and that’s kind of the same thing.
I’ve also found myself choosing my battles more carefully. I fight for things that matter to me and I’ve been standing up for myself more often (which is EXTREMELY new). One thing I will always fight for is my son. No matter the cost. Whatever odds are against me. Even when faith is failing. I will always fight for him. Just like he fought for himself in the NICU. Just as I fought my mental health. Just as I fight to give parents the opportunity to bond with their children in the NICU. I will continue to fight.
The definition of a superhero is a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman or Wonderwoman. Fictional. Fictional. Fictional.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve met a superhero. I’ve met a number of superheroes. Some heroes are tiny and fight from the moment they are born. Some heroes wake up every day and go out into the community and care for others- stand up for the little guy. Some heroes are fighting battles that none of us will ever see or begin to understand. Heros look like you. Heros look like me.
Just because we can’t fly, melt metal with lasers from our eyes, carry a lightsaber, or have billions in the bank doesn’t mean we aren’t superheroes. We all have a superpower of some kind. Some have more than one. At the end of it all, maybe it’s time we reconsider the definition of what a superhero truly is. How about this:
Superhero: an ordinary person who demonstrates extraordinary personal, mental, or physical strength in the face of adversity; gives hope; shows kindness; washes, folds, and puts away laundry in a single day.
That last bit is wishful thinking.
Whatever your superpower may be, use it for good. Use it to Make Your Mark.