My three-year-old son honestly believes with all his heart that when he puts on his Batman costume, he himself suddenly morphs into the real true Batman. I haven’t ever questioned him about the facts of how this incarnation takes place because honestly, I don’t want him to think about it too hard. I love it that he believes this, and I don’t want to challenge him out of it.
It’s hard to explain why, but I have somehow come to depend on Batman. So many dreary mornings I have taken courage in the sight of a little mini super hero suddenly appearing around the corner of the hallway. Batman shows up in the kitchen to help with the cooking just when I start to feel lonely. The caped crusader cheerfully meets the mailman at the door when my hands are too full of babies or burdens to answer. And on so many countless mornings and afternoons, silent Batman sits faithfully beside me while I nurse one or the other of the twins to sleep. In short – Batman comes to spice up life, just when life is needing a little spicing
I think Batman found his muse and mission in our home this year precisely because of the arrival of the twin babies. Instantly not the family’s youngest any longer, I suspect Toby decided he needed a new way to captivate the family’s attention (though with his quick wit, brilliant imagination, and insanely creative humor, he most certainly did not.) I have noticed that there is a particular pattern to when Batman shows up. It’s usually when Toby himself needs a little “help.”
Batman peers down shyly from the stairs when unknown new guests arrive at the door, giving the little boy inside courage to face the strangers. Batman bursts in when I’ve been particularly busy, preoccupied, or absent, making his entrance with the kind of gusto a Mommy just simply cannot ignore. And Batman urgently rescues his toys from the deadly clutches of the joker, whenever stress or anger are running high in the house all around him. With a keen eye for impending danger, my little Batman comes whenever someone is flashing the help signal in the sky.
Tonight – 2 days un-showered, covered in kids’ throw-up and kicking the laundry heap at my feet – tonight I am wishing I could become Batman too. Or Batgirl, or Wonder Woman, or someone or something or anything that would lift me out of my reality for just a little while. I wish I had a costume that gave me the courage to face life’s difficulties. I wish I had an alter-ego to make me better, stronger, and wiser than I am. Mostly, I just wish there was a better version of me out there.
Sometimes on nights like tonight, I randomly get flashbacks of myself ten years ago as a girls’ dean of 86 adolescents. I recall with wonder the self-assured way I approached absolutely everything in life. Where did that come from? Where is it now? And WHY was raising other people’s kids so much easier? If I open old yearbooks, I can read tributes from so many students about how I “changed their lives,” “strengthened their faith,” and even “led them to Jesus.” Who was that girl my old students wrote to? I have to forcefully make myself believe that she was in fact me, because tonight I don’t feel I have the power to change anyone’s life, let alone change the wet laundry from the washer to the dryer. I cannot fathom strengthening anyone’s faith because my own faith is kicking for dear life to keep its head above water. And if I somehow manage to lead my children to Jesus in spite of all my unforgivable mistakes and gut-wrenching failings, I will be amazed. Dumbfounded and speechless, for lack of an explanation.
That’s why I’m up wishing for a Batsuit. (That, and the fact that I just emptied another bowl of throw up, maybe for the 14th time today.) And the easy conclusion is that, no matter how much laundry I manage to excavate this family from, I will never find my super suit. That idealized version of me won’t turn up at the bottom of any toy basket or beneath any dishes pile either.
Beside me sits another type of armor – one battle worn, tested, tried and true. Late night lamp light reflects off of my two-toned leather Bible and smooth red prayer journal underneath. You cannot imagine the extent to which these two companions have saved me (or, maybe, you can.) I would be horrified for you to read the journal’s blubbering pages, but if you did, what you would find there is a record of a girl crying out to God for help. Begging over and over for more patience, more wisdom. Pleading for strength, courage and love. Confessing unthinkable shortcomings. Asking Him on every page just exactly how I am supposed to mold and shape these tiny little characters for His kingdom when I myself am such a mess. And then, after pages of these desperate pleas and rantings, almost always there will come an answer: a tiny psalm, a succinct verse, scribbled out in haste from memory – a puzzle piece snapped into place.
“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
“Our God is a fortress.”
“Even the darkness is not dark to me.”
“He gently leads those that have young.”
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all.”
“Come unto me, all you who are weary (and throw-up laden).”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
These quoted words from underlined favorite passages in my Bible are the closest I think I’ll ever come to a super suit. But they do the job – they give me courage to face the unknown and companionship for the dark days. They fill me with fervor to fight the bad guys out there who undoubtedly are after my children’s souls. They remind me that salvation for my family never resided in my own hands anyway, but rested completely in His scarred hands all along. And they fortify me in the way that only living-and-active words from an ever-present God could. They change me, grow me, and strengthen me in all the thread-bare spots of my worn out Mommy soul. They are my super suit. They really DO have the power to make me more than I am. (Holy Ancient Words, Batman!)
I wish I was better about keeping this armor on. I yearn to be more consistent in my time with the Lord, and I wish that He didn’t lose the competition for my time so often to sleep (or Facebook). But when things get bad enough – as they always will in motherhood – I eventually do remember there is an unlimited source of power ever at my disposal.
And so, I keep coming back for more. Late at night when the rest of the house sleeps and snores, I am here thirsting at this well that never runs dry. Basking in the intimacy of being completely known and yet still somehow completely loved. Finding my courage. Finding my joy again. Finding my own original Batman:
“The Lord is a Warrior – He is Mighty to Save.”