Full disclosure: I grumbled a little bit watching the highly anticipated The Incredibles sequel. Mr. Incredible basically has to put his talents and life on hold to raise a family while Mrs. Incredible is sent out into society to be, well…incredible. His life is seemingly reduced to endless dirty diapers, redundant homework routines, and a whole lot of piss poor attitude as he sets aside his once exciting life of glamorous crime fighting. As the plot thickens, we see Mr. Incredible shrivel into a sleep deprived zombie as Mrs. Incredible simultaneously thrives as a crime fighting genius, validated, praised and adored by society.
I’d be lying through my teeth if I don’t openly admit that I find Mr. Incredible’s plot line entirely relatable. Monday through Friday I send my wildly successful husband off to work as I bravely brace myself for twelve hours of handling endless dirty diapers, redundant homework routines and a whole lot of piss poor attitude.
On especially harrowing days I can feel pieces of my innately restless, artistic soul die a little as I gracefully accept my humble, mediocre stay ay home parenting existence. At times, I find parenthood to be the lowliest of stations in life as I am often cast aside by society as ‘just’ the mom prototype. Mr. Incredible is also quickly stereotyped as ‘just’ the dad character in the animated film, and I wholeheartedly felt sympathetic for his grossly overlooked and under appreciated role.
Midway through the film, the brutally honest Edna relates some valuable advice to a sleep deprived Mr. Incredible. She states:
Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.
My bitterness immediately evaporated with Edna’s words. Parenthood, in all of it’s ordinary, mundane, disastrous mess, is in fact, the world’s most heroic and brave act.
Honorable parenting takes immeasurable amounts of strength, courage and selflessness, the same qualities all heroes embody. The heart-felt pursuits of all well intended parents are not only powerfully brave, but invaluable in the most formidable ways to our social fabric.
As a parent, I am the literal life line to the next generation of humanity. The progress and stability of our society rests on my perfectly imperfect ability to teach, nurture and cherish my children. This all-consuming task can seem daunting and impossible most days, but in true heroic fashion we bravely power through the highs, the lows, the thick and the thin.
We routinely wipe away crocodile tears from colicky babies, frustrated toddlers and heart-broken teenagers. The power to calm the troubled waters of childhood and adolescence are greater than x-ray vision and mind reading (although those would enhance and be so helpful in the parenting experience). Our ability to practice infinite amounts of patience, compassion and forgiveness in the face of adversity (or in the face of a toddler melting down in the Target toy aisle) is as mind-blowing and noteworthy as Super Man’s ability to fly.
Heroes are resilient. Faced with adversity regularly, Batman still carried on and continued to persevere while fighting endless battles. Parenthood is an equally endless roller coaster of trails. Even as a somewhat seasoned parent, I fail frequently and I fail hard. Some of my failures are small and inconsequential, while others are huge and catastrophic. Regardless of my shortcomings, when I fall…I get back up, just like Bruce Wayne. And although it may seem insignificant, to my children, this willingness to fail and rise up indefinitely is in fact, everything.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Parenting is a walk in the park…Jurrassic Park?” Loading my kids into the car several times a day feels like I am manhandling three velociraptor dinosaurs. I am subconsciously prepared to lose a limb at a moments notice. I might not have the powers and good looks of Wonder Woman, but you better believe I’m just as brave to take on my three children day after day, month after month, year after year.
My super powers may not lay along the lines of flying or having an infinite amount of physical strength but I do have cat-like reflexes while changing a wiggly baby blow out diaper, can multi task with toddlers like a boss and function on less than four hours of sleep for months on end while remaining patient and calm with my toddlers 98% of the time. Be not fooled, those are powerful abilities and talents.
As a nurturer, I teach my children the value of love and compassion in a world filled with evil and darkness. I teach them the power of truth and honesty in a world filled with deceitful villains. I instill in my children the value of being a good friend and the worth of kindness in a world that all too often is cruel and down right ugly. As my children’s mentor, I am their guiding hand in this confusing, chaos filled world.
To all the parents bravely teaching their children to navigate this chaotic world, in the most noble and honorable way they know how, you are brave and heroic in immeasurable ways. You are a hero.