“Ships are safe in the harbor but that’s not what ships were made for.”
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“Attitude determines altitude.”
Since becoming a mother, however, I have been unable to find a motivating mantra that fits my new reality. Now my priority is keeping my little ships safe; the thought of them sailing beyond the harbor of our home terrifies me. I have also become more risk-adverse in my personal and professional life. I need job security, good health insurance, and workplace flexibilities that allow me to support and enjoy my family. And while I try to remain upbeat, it is easy to become impatient or overwhelmed. My default motto has become, “One day at a time,” but that is not how I want to live my life (figuratively, at least).
Last Sunday morning, my kind husband whisked our two younger children downstairs so I could sleep in. But it was not to be, as a few minutes later I heard my five-year-old at our bedroom door. “Do you want to come cuddle?” I asked him.
“I ALWAYS want to cuddle you,” he enthusiastically replied. He seemed puzzled when I told him I hoped he’d always feel that way.
My son began to tell me about a dream he’d had, in which he was a superhero saving the day. After recounting his dreamland adventures, my son turned to me, “I think everyone is kind of a superhero, don’t you?”
“Absolutely,” I affirmed. “I think your superpower is that you can tell when someone is sad, hurt, or upset, and you often know just what to do to make him or her feel better.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. Then there was a long pause as my five-year-old snuggled even deeper into me. “Mommy, I think your superpower is that you are a little bit brave and you spread love in the world.”
His words knocked the breath out of me. I do not recall ever speaking with my kids about “spreading love in the world,” or singing songs to that effect, although it’s a meaningful message and there are plenty of songs out there. But as soon as he said it, I knew my child had given me my new mantra. We went on to talk about how hard it is, even when we know what our superpower is, to remember to use it.
Many times over the past week I have reminded myself of my son’s words. When a mom at my son’s preschool organized a children’s book club and hosted it at her home, I made the time to send a hand written thank you note acknowledging how much her efforts meant to me. When I got lost on the way to a birthday party yesterday, with three kids and no GPS on busy city streets, my son’s assertion that I am “a little bit brave” echoed in my mind and I became determined to prove him right.
I am a firm believer that what we need finds us. Whether it is a book, a bird, or a little boy that “speaks to us,” this Sunday morning encounter reaffirmed that it is important to always be looking and listening for the truth.