How would you like to be described? We’re not supposed to care about what people think of us, but how I am seen through the eyes of others, especially my husband and children, means a lot to me. In my mind, I radiate energy, send positive vibes, live an active lifestyle, and show a kind heart. Well, that vision shattered to bits yesterday after a conversation with, believe it or not, my eight year old son.
Single digit temps this weekend kept us mostly inside and brainstorming things to do. After attempting to sled on frozen tundra and realizing they couldn’t eat the icy snow that blanketed our lawn, both my kids were clamoring for hot cocoa, popcorn, and a movie. We rented Incredibles 2, snuggled up on the couch and hunkered down in front of the fire. About halfway through the film, I felt my eyelids droop. It wasn’t until I felt Joey’s gentle shake of my arm that I came to.
“Mommy,” he whispered, “this movie made me realize we have superpowers.”
“Oh yeah?” I sat up. “What superpowers do we have?”
“Well, mine are cool – I have great hair that doesn’t move when I sleep or look weird when I wake up, and I can eat whatever I want and not gain a pound.” (I know, I know. There are so many things to write here, but they would all be way off point.)
I smiled at Joey. I couldn’t wait to hear what mine were. Super Mommy who could take down bad guys with her super muscles and agility? Beautiful Mommy with flowing tresses that stopped bad guys in their tracks? Fun Mommy who disarmed bad guys with her charm?
“Your power, Mommy,” Joey continued, “is SLEEPING. If a bad guy comes, you can just BAM!, put him to sleep because you’re so good at it.”
I was crushed. In a semi state of shock. My mind raced down a rabbit hole of toxic thoughts. I wanted to shout: Do sleeping mommies make dinner 6-7 times a week? Do they work out at OrangeTheory Fitness? Run half marathons? Get up at 5am every day? Do they do EVERYTHING??
This was not healthy. I remained reticent, took a breath and pulled myself off the couch. After all, Joey did have to wake me up to share this revelation. I thought about my weekend days. Despite my enthusiasm for activity and the gym, there were plenty of Sunday afternoons Joey could find me prone on the couch. I wasn’t showing my better self. Telling myself I was so busy during the week that I deserved a rest, didn’t erase what Joey saw on the weekends.
Later, when I told Joe, he informed me I should have told Joey my feelings were hurt.
“But, I couldn’t,” I said. “I was too embarrassed – caught off guard. He sees me as The Sleeper, and that’s not how I see myself. It’s like in second grade when my teacher sent that stupid list of awards toward the end of school. I was convinced I would get Best Dancer, and I got Shortest.”
Joe laughed out loud. “Trust me,” he said. “Talk to Joey and tell him how you feel. He’s eight, but he’ll understand. He’ll make you feel better.”
Joe was right. I was never angry at my son; he did not intend to hurt my feelings. He just called it as he saw it. Joey reminded me that kids are always watching, and what we think people notice about us may not align with what we actually show the world. I called Joey up to my room.
“I just want to talk to you about my super power,” I began. “I guess I was surprised that you would pick sleeping. It’s not really how I’d like you to see me.”
“Mommy, I didn’t mean it in a bad way. It’s just -,” he paused. “Well, on the weekends, you do like to snuggle up a lot, and sometimes you fall asleep on the couch. It’s ok.” He rubbed my arm. “Don’t be afraid of a nap once in a while. You deserve it. I love you.”
Joey, I’ll put a bad guy in a sleeper hold for you any day.
Then, of course, I’ll use my Kick Ass Super Mommy powers.