Happy Mother’s Day all!  This is my column in today’s Greenville News!


Our family loves Super-heroes. We always have, from back in the days of action figures and pajamas with Velcro-tab cape, of course. We have watched movies, read comics and studied various books about the back-stories, character traits, character flaws and unique skills of each hero. I admit that we tend toward Marvel, but my wife in particular has a fondness for one DC character, the moody and brooding Bruce Wayne, aka Batman (which explains the aforementioned jammies…for the kids, not me).

Last week we were enjoying Marvel Avengers, a movie which features several of our favorites. I’ve long been a fan of both Thor and Captain America, but must admit to a deep respect for Ironman.

When Jan and I were talking about the movie and laughing, I made a comment that one of our sons reminded me of a particular hero. Jan whispered in my ear, ‘that’s what we’re doing…raising Super-heroes!’ Indeed.

Which brings me round, via rocket-powered suits, mystical hammers and super-science to the unique place of mom. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s good to remember that its mom’s job to do just that. To make us people who are useful and good. Even as we wax emotional about the sweetness of the time mothers spend with their sons and daughters, even as we shed tears over mothers long gone, and recall their touch, their kiss, their kindness, we should bear in mind that their function was this: to keep us safe, keep us healthy and prepare us for the future.

It is a hard thing for mothers, to devote themselves to children who will, if raised properly, abscond with all of the love and attention and preparation lavished upon them, and take it to another family. It’s almost scandalous; if it weren’t so very appropriate.

It was, in no small part, my mother’s encouragement that emboldened me to try to go to medical school. And it was doubtless her gentility to me as a child which contributed to the way I lavish my own children with my time and my resources. I left home, but those early preparations for heroism were shared with her grandchildren down the years. In like manner, my mother-in-law raised a Super daughter, who left home to become a force of nature herself, a hidden garden of safety and love for her own sons and daughter, and anyone else who wanders into her influence.

It is tragic when anyone denigrates, or minimizes, the value and effort of motherhood, which is truly an work of epic, Olympic proportions. Love is its own work, if it is true and sacrificial. And on Mother’s Day we remember that motherhood, and mothers, are truly miraculous.

Having said that, I return to the metaphor at hand. What are the Super Powers of mothers? Many, it seems. Perhaps it would be best to list the tools they carry into the daily work of motherhood. The breath of patience, the armor of endless love, the eyes of understanding, the super shoes of errands, the mystical voice of calm, the twin hands of safety and discipline, the pan of feeding (with the magical ability to create a meal from supplies as minimal as broccoli, cinnamon and a cardboard box). They possess the lap of comfort and the mind of encouragement, the eternal words of hope and the laughter of smiling goddesses.

The mother, thanks to good fashion sense, does not wear a utility belt. She does, however, have everything from wet-wipes to clean socks, from pens and pads to chewing gum in that wonder of wonders, mystery of mysteries, the Super Mom purse. Even Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee would find it wondrous, as it contains whatever we need as children, from socks to snacks, screwdrivers to fruit juice.

Mothers, in all their Super regalia, would leave even the Marvel Avengers in a state of hushed awe. Mothers could make Ironman apologize for his arrogance, Batman smile, Spiderman feel loved, Thor tender and would calm the rage of the Hulk with a whisper and kiss. Magneto, who (according to X-men legend) lost his mother to the Nazis, would probably cease his predations on the world if only his dear mother could hold and comfort him.

Even if we aren’t super, all it takes is a glance at moms to know that Super powers are neither lost nor imaginary. They still reside, as strong as ever, in the loving mothers of the world.

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