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Being a Superhero is a Matter of Perspective

I see someone who is fatally flawed and who doesn’t measure up. My son wants nothing more than to be like me. He wants nothing more than to do things the way I do. I see myself as less than and he sees me as greater than.

Today was a “snow day” in our area. Schools were called off late last night and the kids stayed home today. I write about my family a lot so, if you’ve read previous posts, you know that I have a wife and two children. My wife’s job doesn’t allow for her to take off when the weather is/may be bad so it was a day at home with dad!

It had all the elements that you typically have when you stay home from school as a kid: movies, video games, playing catch with a football in the living room, microwaveable chicken nuggets, and more noise than you would think is possible with such a small family. Overall it was a good day. It wasn’t good in that we were productive-our house isn’t clean, as a matter of fact it is dirtier than it was before. We didn’t do homework. We mainly just had fun.

I believe it is important that we define and name our sources of joy. I think that helps us to remember them when those sources slip away into the panic, stress, and fatigue or when those very sources become the source of our stress. Careers, hobbies, and marriages fit here. But moreso than any of the others, children fit very snuggly into this category. Kids can push buttons, they can be unruly, and they can push us to the very edge of sanity, but there is little (if anything) that can bring us the same amount of unfettered joy.

I realized that this evening. After a full day of being in the house I was able to get out to the gym for a while once my wife came home. As I was finishing up and packing to head home I saw that my son (6 and using his mothers phone) had sent me a text asking if we could play video games when I came home. He had everything prepared for me and sat right next to me the whole time. He asked me questions, tried to help me where he thought he could, and cheered for me. Once we were finished I got up to cut up some strawberries for a late night snack. He asked me a lot of questions about measuring out my food, if I was going to save some for tomorrow, and what chair I wanted to sit in as we watched tv to wind down. He asked for a fruit smoothie that we buy the kids and said he’d wait until I sat down to drink it so he could drink it with me.

We sat down and started a tv show that I’ve watched over and over for the better part of 2 decades now. It’s over the top, at times a bit cheesy, and still my favorite show. There’s no real reason for him to want to watch it with me, but he does often. As I sat here watching my show I looked over at my son who by this point had fallen asleep sitting up, as he so often does, left leg cross over his right and hands folded in his lap just like he was sitting 5 minutes ago but his head is now tilted back against the chair. It was in that moment that I remember something my wife tells me often: “They (my kids) always talk about how big and strong and fast you are. They talk about you a lot when [you aren’t here].”

I’m not sure I’m able to describe the feeling I had when I realized how much my son wants to be around me. How he just wants to interact with me and do things like me. His constant questions lean more toward understanding how and why I do things the way I do. He copies me more than I realized.

Keep in mind that I’ve made no bones about being honest that I deal with anxiety and depression. A very common symptom of anxiety and depression is being overly critical of yourself. This can be critical of your actions or, worse, of who you are. Too often my mind views me as less than I am. I see the faults and call them defects. I see the flaws and think they are fatal. I look in the mirror and see someone who doesn’t live up, who doesn’t achieve, who doesn’t deserve. It’s not everyday, but it lingers.

I see the faults and call them defects. I see the flaws and think they are fatal. I look in the mirror and see someone who doesn’t live up, who doesn’t achieve, who doesn’t deserve.

I see someone who is fatally flawed and who doesn’t measure up. And yet, my son wants nothing more than to be like me. He wants nothing more than to do things the way I do. I see myself as less than and he sees me as greater than.

I have no cape, no mask, no shield. I don’t have a suit of armor, a combat vehicle, or a cave to store it all. But to my son I have super powers. In one of my more favorite Christmas movies there is the line “seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” He believes how great I am so that’s what he sees. I feel like all I see is the opposite; my flaws and failures outweigh everything I truly am.

I have no cape, no mask, no shield. I don’t have a suit of armor, a combat vehicle, or a cave to store it all. But to my son I have super powers.

At some point we have to tell ourselves the truth. We have to be able to see our lives from both sides, successes and failures, positives and negatives. Only then can we truly see who we are are begin to grow. Only then can we truly be who we are, achieve the deepest hopes and dreams that we are afraid to mention because they seem too far off, and obtain the happiness that we all deserve. Sometimes telling ourselves the truth is the most difficult part so we have to allow others to do it for us-even if that someone else is a 6 year old little boy.

I may be no superhero. I may not even be someone worthy to be emulated. But my son wants nothing more than to just be me. I may not be enhanced by gamma radiation, bit by a radio active spider, or powered by the sun, but I’m going to do everything I can to be his superhero. Because I already am, and it’s all I ever want to be.

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