Before we had superheroes to read and write about, we had our parents, be it our mom, our dad, or our grandparents, who took care of us while we didn’t know a single thing about the world.
And because we placed them on a pedestal, we forget that they were once us; at one point, they had unlimited potential, with their own dreams and desires of the kind of person they wanted to be.
My mom was amazing to me as a child. She had short, dark hair until her shoulders, and she always wore this white, sleeveless blouse that made her even more beautiful. She was always in and out of the country because she was a flight attendant, and for that, there was more reason to admire her. Every time we went to parties, her jovial personality would start the party again (because we were always late).
I’ve always thought that she had this blinding aura that followed her wherever she went, and for that and all the reasons above, my mom was my first superhero.
But that heroic aura became less evident as the years passed. She and I would get into fights, and I’d have the audacity to bite back. One time I dated a boy in high school without her knowing, and when she found out about it, my mom was beyond upset (it was one of her rules: ‘No boyfriend until you’re working!’)
What only followed was a series of misunderstandings, disagreements, and petty bickering.
Now, there’s a pandemic raging outside our apartment, and we’re stuck together, forced to see each other every single day, unlike before. One day, it was quieter than most, I looked at my mom while she was cleaning the table. She had wrinkles more evident than before, and she had white hair. She used to use bold red nail polish, but she changed to a softer nude pink.
The subtle changes in my mom’s appearance led me to ask her a few questions about how she was when she was younger.
She painted me an image of how she used to always listen to her parents; how she used to play by the canal in Bicol when the water was cleaner (so fresh, there were fish); how her siblings bullied her and how one of them always defended her; how she used to bake cakes for her relatives; how she used to have many admirers back in high school (she studied in an all-girls school which was even more fun to hear about); how she felt when she met my dad and married him–for love and for a way to spite her mom (my sweet lola now); how she now has to take care of three children who always complained and don’t remember to do their chores.
At that moment I didn’t see her as the parent who always fed us and cared for us. I saw her as the child she once was. And she’s still in there.
Most of our parents started out like us; dreaming of wild, heroic, and passionate things to accomplish by the time they grow up. But then life happens, and plans go astray. By the time they’ve realized it, they’re married, chubby, and have children to take care of.
Reality may strip away the cape from our superheroes, but they’re more than that. They’re real, and so are we. As we grow older, it’s fine knowing that we don’t know where to go and which path to take. This applies to our parents and all the other people we look up to, who we thought were perfect, larger-than-life beings.
They may still be navigating where their real journey lies, or they’re happy to be where they are right now. Even though I see my mom as she is now, I still can’t mistake how her love for me is greater than anything else in this world. She may not have a cape, but she still knows how to save the day.