We Are All Ordinary, and We Are All Superheroes

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My mom with her eldest daughter (me) and my eldest son

This post is part of the Global Moms Relay. Every time you share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action), up to $275,000, to the Global Moms Relay, to help improve the health and well-being of moms and kids worldwide in support of MAMAShot@Life, and Girl Up. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.

Like most women worldwide, I have a very ordinary mom. She is not famous, she is not spectacularly rich, she has never invented anything that she had to patent, and she’s never saved anyone’s life by performing emergency CPR or the Heimlich maneuver. She raised three daughters without a lot of fanfare, did laundry and sewed curtains and planted a vegetable garden every summer. She drove us everywhere, both literally and metaphorically—meaning she ferried us to swim practice and piano lessons, but also directed the journey of our lives (with an approach that was more guardrail than traffic light).

She rarely called attention to herself, avoided drama whenever possible, and only cried once in front of me when I was a kid, when she dropped a stapler on her toe.

So yes, she was ordinary. And yet she was—and is, at the age of 73—a superhero. She taught me everything I know about the important things. That is, how to raise a family with intelligence, understanding and love.

She taught me that:

• You will never unplug the phone next to the bed, just in case one of the kids needs to call in the middle of the night. They rarely do. But don’t unplug that phone.

• You will insist on a vegetable with dinner, even if it’s baby carrots for about a decade straight. And then, like a small miracle, someone agrees to eat asparagus.

• You will take a crying baby outside to the front porch, because that usually helps.

• You will sometimes think to yourself, about one of your teenage children, “I hate that kid.” And then you remind yourself that that’s NOT TRUE, that it is just a fleeting, hormonally-induced intense dislike, and that it will pass.

• You will learn to accept that, when a child is born, he is already 89% of the way toward being the person he will become. That’s right: Your influence is that small. This statistic is not based on any scientific knowledge, but “sometimes a mother just knows,” etc. etc.

• You will understand that you become an afterthought in the lives of your children once they pass the age of 6. You were previously the star of the show; now you are the reliable bit player who will take any part offered, for little to no pay, on a moment’s notice. You are an ordinary mom.

And yet:

You are a superhero. You are the warm bosom, the spirit of forgiveness, the constant force, the definition of love. You have infinite wisdom and the strength of thousands.

You are the reason Billy Collins wrote “The Lanyard,” the best poem ever written about motherhood, and when you are feeling sad and lonely, there’s nothing more you need than that.

Most of your decisions, whether or not you realize it, begin with the question “Is this good for the children?” And you are lucky—lucky that you have the luxury of that question, lucky that you have good medical care, lucky that you have food on the table, lucky that vaccination is a choice that you can make, and do make, year after year. Because it’s good for the children.

You are wise enough to know that, despite feeling sleep deprived and unappreciated and less relevant by the year, you have very little to complain about. Ever. And on your very best days, you are smart enough to remember that.

You are completely ordinary. And yet, in the hearts of your children, you are so much more. Thanks, Mom.

You share, they give: Each time you ‘like’ or share this post via the social media icons on this post or comment below, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action) up to $275,000, to improve the health and wellbeing of moms and kids worldwide through MAMAShot@Life, and Girl Up. Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine preventable disease. $1 provides a measles or polio vaccine for a child through Shot@Life — a campaign to raise awareness, advocacy and funds to get vaccines to the children who need them most. You can also use the Donate A Photo* app and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 when you upload a photo for Girl Up or Shot@Life, up to $100,000. You can help make a difference in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone. Share this post with the hashtag #GlobalMoms, and visit GlobalMomsRelay.org to learn more.

The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter and The Huffington Post created the Global Moms Relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.


* via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.


  1. Tammy

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mom. I miss mine everyday. She taught me many valuable lessons.

    May 5, 2014 at 11:41 am
  2. Kathy

    Here’s to all the heroes from the sleep-deprived new moms to the great-grandmothers like my mom who get on Facebook to stay in touch with the kids.

    May 6, 2014 at 8:13 am
  3. Kristine

    What a touching story. To this day, I don’t know how my mom did it–holding down a job, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring we kids around, being a Girl Scout leader and the neighborhood “mom” to many etc. She continues to be my inspiration while she continues to guide me from her place in heaven. Mom-you are my hero!

    May 12, 2014 at 9:42 am
  4. Mjcley

    Great article!

    May 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm
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    December 3, 2014 at 1:23 am

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