Did you have a childhood hero? I can’t remember that I ever had one, at least, not in the way most people think of childhood heroes: Wonder Woman, firemen, a sports star. I did have Wonder Woman underoos, of course, but I don’t ever remember worshiping a character or a profession or anything. The closest I had was my mom. Still is.
As a divorced single mom, my mom did her best to move us to the areas with the best schools, even if it meant she had a longer commute to work. She did her best, when we were very poor, to ensure I didn’t know we were. There were a lot of handmade, homemade holiday decorations, and I always thought that was part of the fun. She made us a Christmas Tree out of cardboard one year, I thought it was beautiful.
Growing up she’d bring home work for herself and for me. Looking back it was just busy work I couldn’t screw up but made me feel like I was helping when really, I suspect, it was giving her time to get the real work done. Then we’d clean the house to the Pointer Sisters or Tina Turner or Billy Joel. I can’t remember these cleaning sessions except for jumping around the house with a rag screaming “Jump! for my love!”
I have a strong work ethic, a desire to get everything done on time or ahead of time, on budget or ahead of budget and this is all because of my mom.
She also instilled an incredible love of books in me, something I try desperately to instill in my own children. We’d take weekly trips to the library where I could check out as many books as I could carry. And there’d be the occasional trip to the used book store where I could buy as many books as I could carry. Just the thought of these events makes me swoon.
My boys and I go to the library every week. I encourage them to take was many books as we can carry together. When we go to a used book store or a garage sale or Scholastic Book Fair, the rules are the same: how many can we carry? This is the greatest legacy I can leave them.
I wonder who my boys’ heroes are. I haven’t thought to ask. Maybe I will.
Equally important, who were my moms heroes? Who are her heroes now? Where did her love of reading come from? Is the legacy I’m passing down one she started or was it gifted to her?
If asked who my hero is now, I’d still say my mom.
As a parent myself now, I know exactly how much energy and drive and thought it takes to be a parent, just how much of myself is drained every day even as it’s refilled by the same. I can’t imagine doing this alone.
How did she have the energy to clean the house after a week of working and caring for me, making sure I did my homework each night, that I had my clothes for the next day picked out a ready to go? How did she have an ounce of creativity left at the end of the day to make decorations with me when she knew she was also responsible for all the other things: presents (where applicable), magic, ideas.
Not all heroes where masks and capes, some carry craft supplies and ask how many books you can carry.
This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.