Home > Family, Love, Nerd, Parenting, Personal > Becoming a superhero

Becoming a superhero

It’s little wonder I grew up wanting to be a superhero.

From the time I was little, the woman I most admired deemed herself “Thunder Thighs,” with the power to destroy villains by such seemingly innocuous things as body odor and thigh-ripple shock waves.

I don’t remember all of her powers or all the villains she coaxed back toward goodness, but I do remember my giggles. I remember how, in these moments, the world was only mirth and closeness to the funniest, silliest, smartest, prettiest mom in the whole wide world.

Thunder Thighs has retired now, but her cape is stretched forever across my proverbial heart.

I’ve been thinking of her a lot these days. I’d like to be worthy of wearing her cape.

There’s only one way to earn it. It’s not by being skinny enough, tall enough, eloquent enough, smart enough or bestselling enough. Not even a little.

I’ll earn that cape by making my son laugh from deep in his belly, and by showing him there is no sweeter music to me than the sound of that laugh. By making him forget the rest of the world exists, for a few moments, and letting him know that the rest of the world has ceased to exist for me, too. By letting him know I am not near him, but with him.

Thanks to The Hands Free Revolution, I’m getting in touch with my inner Thunder Thighs. I’m looking at my cell phone and wondering, “Would Thunder Thighs read that email, or would she swoop up her child and take him for an impromptu airplaine ride instead?”

I know what she would do. She might not have been the most practical of superheroes, but she was the most loving.

I have a choice. Every time my phone beeps, it’s beeping a choice. I choose my son. I choose my family.

I choose to do my best to be remembered by my son as I remember Thunder Thighs.

I will be worthy of that cape.

© 2012 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.

  1. May 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Here I am, the middle of the night and my mind won’t shut off. I visit your page, for here is where I often find my courage, my strength, my understanding that I can’t quite put into words. So imagine how I feel when I see me, in your post, this beautiful, life-changing, simple, yet powerful post. I am covered with chills … the best kind … knowing something I wrote caused one parent to think … simply think … before picking up that piece of distraction—and in that moment of hesitation, a choice is made. The choice to grasp what matters. You choose your child … again and again … you chose what really matters. And that choice is making a difference. It is making a life-shattering, soul-shaping difference. And you have let me know in the most beautiful way possible.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


    • May 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      It’s taken me a few days to reply, but that’s not for lack of instantaneous joy upon reading this comment. It is so amazing to read this and think that I could possibly have touched someone who has so deeply touched and already, after so little time, enriched my life. Your words are open, honest and inspiring, so that through them it’s easy to feel myself led toward the life I want to be living . . . not just the one where I simply respond to whatever obstacles fall in front of me. It’s thus I’d like to ditto you and say, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I am so deeply grateful for your sharing your journey in a way that allows many to reassess their own journeys, in such a positive, nurturing way.

  2. May 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    What an amazing superhero to chose—one with heart. It is so true that the distractions come so frequently and ever so loudly that they can interfere with the most precious of life’s moments. The phone messages can be retrieved at a later time, but that sweet moment with your son at this time in his very young life cannot be. I am teary because you spoke truth and I too need to be aware of time slipping away! Thank you!

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      This afternoon I went to find a specific picture. I scrolled through months of pictures and found myself thinking, “There’s no way that was two years ago! No way!” But two years–two and a half, since meeting my little fella–have indeed gone just that fast. It’s a great reminder to make the most of these fleeting moments, for as you’ve said, the voicemails can be retrieved later. The moments open to spend with my son when he is awake (and they are few after daycare!) cannot be retrieved later. Best to use them wisely, and with love!

  3. May 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    You’re such an awesome mom. Take it from someone who never had that, your kid will REALLY appreciate it 🙂


    • May 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      He seems to do so now, something I hopehopehope remains for the long haul! Thank you for this. ♥

  4. May 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Yeah! And you’ll probably be around longer too, because phone distraction does contribute to accidents of all kinds. It is so wonderful that we can always choose to love more.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      So true, that! Also, I would love to be around as long as humanly possible, to see as many of my son’s milestones as possible. Whatever I can do to make that happen, I will. 🙂

  5. May 10, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Yes yes yes! I don’t know much about the THFR, but it sounds right up my alley. We are always making choices, evaluating, making new choices. Didn’t someone say: All you need is love? I believe it more every day add we add (or ignore) distractions in our lives.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      I love THFR! I had a vague sense of unease when I was checking my email every 4-5 minutes weekday evenings, but I didn’t really get a lock on why until I started reading her blogs. Since then, it’s been so clear to me. I still struggle sometimes, but I know that the short-term struggle doesn’t mean I’m making the wrong choice! Not by a long shot. 🙂

  6. May 10, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I love that picture! Ditto to what Renee said – I can’t add anything more.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      I had no idea that picture was being taken! Honestly, when Ba.D. showed it to me, I went, “Wait, we were on that end of the bed? And you took a picture?” But I’m glad he did, for that picture makes me smile outward and in!

  7. May 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Love! And yes, I find myself making those choices all the time. I usually make the right choice, the giggles laughs cuddles and the choice to be present so that my minis will always know way deep down that they are by far and away my choice. xo Happy Mother’s Day mama.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      I’m comforted by your use of the word “usually.” I too still usually make the right choice, but it’s definitely not close to always! Then again, when they’re infrequent asides, they’re not what will be remembered . . . at least not if my childhood is any indication! Happy Mother’s Day, sweet mama. ♥

  8. May 10, 2012 at 10:49 am

    You are so worthy, Deb. I’m finding a lot of inspiration from Rachel, too. I’m getting better at putting down my phone, but I’m still learning how to be present while seeing the big picture. Micromanaged as a child, I’ve become the child micromanager. It can be a tough cycle to break, but I owe it to my kids.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      I’m definitely in the “getting better” phase myself. I grew up in such an unstructured childhood that it feels natural to me to return that direction, if I do have to overcome the obstacle of now being goal-oriented and structure-friendly. :p

      I would love to hear more about your journey here, if you feel like writing it.

      • May 14, 2012 at 6:44 am

        Careful with those invitations! You never know what can of worms you’ll open. 😉 I’ll try to sum it up with this… My dad is the most awkward, self-conscious person I know. He was/is highly critical of others, and therefore highly afraid of criticism. He placed those fears on me, probably from both a place of compassion and a place of frustration and fear. Likewise, without conscious effort on my part, I want to keep my kids in line and control their behavior. It’s an “unwinnable” battle, and it strips them of their power and self-confidence. There are no winners in this form of parenting, but I’m having the damnedest time changing it. It’s coming, though, bit by bit. The task of raising boys into good, self-sufficient, smart, wise, caring, daring men can be overwhelming. It’s a daunting challenge.

        We’re taking a Parenting with Love and Logic class at the kids’ school, put on by the school psychologist. Karin attends them all, while I make it to a few due to scheduling. I really like the premise of it, and I’m learning, but those years of having my power and self-confidence eroded away are not easily erased.

        Thanks for the forum and invitation to share. 🙂

  9. May 10, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Wow, this is powerful! I just read the Hands-Free Revolution post that you linked to. It’s something I’ve been struggling with more and more every day, as blogging seems to become ever so demanding. As you know I sort of toe the line with FB and Twitter and don’t keep up, just because if I did I would never have time to engage with my ‘real life’ peeps. It’s SO hard to find that balance, but I think the more people that embrace the ‘hands-free revolution,’ the easier it will be to live in the [unplugged] moment 🙂

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      I think the more people that embrace the ‘hands-free revolution,’ the easier it will be to live in the [unplugged] moment
      A HUGE amen to this, Jules! I was struggling with it more and more but unable to really get a lock on a consistent, coherent overall perspective until I started reading THFR’s posts. With those under my belt, it was so easy to go back in time and just remember all those distraction-free moments. Sure, there were tons where dishes had to be done, bills had to be paid and errands run, but I remember so many moments of true, complete togetherness. I want to strive to create and be part of moments like that myself! It might not be as instantaneously gratifying as 72 likes on a Facebook post, but it’s a kind of gratification that’s much longer lasting. ♥

  10. May 10, 2012 at 11:12 am

    you are picking up right where she left Deb.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      I feel so sad it took me two and a half years to get here. I feel like that’s two and a half years it wouldn’t have taken her. But OTOH, I think I’m there now, or almost there, and that is a beautiful thing. Love you.

  11. May 10, 2012 at 11:26 am


  12. May 10, 2012 at 11:32 am


  13. May 10, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Oh, Deb, what a precious post. This is a perfect pre-Mother’s Day piece–and one, I’m sure, would have made Thunder Thighs proud. Looking forward to tomorrow, my friend!

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      When I read your comment, I thought, “Mother’s Day?” And then I realized that Mother’s Day is indeed just about upon us! While I didn’t write this with Mother’s Day in mind, I think it’s a much better Mother’s Day piece than the one I actually intended for Mother’s Day last year. 😉

      Loved your blog. I hope there’s still a whole lot more love to be shown it!

  14. May 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Next time my phone beeps, I’m going to keep this in mind. Such an important message, easily forgotten.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Writing it down helps me remember it, too. It’s so easy to be swept up in this moment versus the totality!

  15. Ada
    May 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I have chills all over my body. I will think twice when I hear my phone or think I NEED to check facebook. My three bebes mean more to me than any of those things. Thank you for the reminder. I will bookmark this so I can read it when I need a gently reminder.
    Beautiful words.
    I bet Thunder Thighs is proud, proud, proud of you.

  16. May 11, 2012 at 5:43 am

    I think your cape is spreading ripples across the life of your son every single day. He will grow to manhood knowing the super-power of love, there is none better in this world or any other. Would that every child in this world could have but a moment to bask in this great light.

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      I grew up loving comic books and daydreaming superpowers I’d someday grow into, so I sometimes grieve deeply that I’ve not grown into the “Care Bare stare” style superpower that will allow every child, everywhere to know how much I’d love them if I only could. Since little Nathan’s body was discarded behind my apartment building a few years back, I’ve thought with great sadness on all the children who will never feel firsthand this love that should, in the ideal world, be their birthright.

  17. Collin
    May 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I totally get that we need to get more disengaged with technology and I commend you for the article. However, it seems that we are going from one extreme to the other. No doubt our kids need our attention and they deserve it but articles saying if you check your phone instead of playing “airplanes” with your child means you aren’t being a superhero, is a bit much. Most parents find facebook, twitter, and other social media more important then their children, which is just pathetic. Those parents “beeps” and “rings” are a luxury and a distraction from what means most, our/their children. I own an IT company and do need to spend a great deal of my time on the computer and/or mobile devices because it’s how I pay the bills and give my family a great future. I set aside a lot of time for my wife and kids for family outtings and just general play time. BUT that beeping/ringing phone for me could be the difference between a client staying happy or a $10,000 loss to the corporation. I just wanted to leave a comment because no one else touched on this subject. And Go Thunderthighs! :O)

    • May 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      One of the things I really like about THFR is that she doesn’t speak in absolutes, that I’ve seen. She’s careful to say things like, “If you can give 10 minutes uninterrupted, give 10. If an hour, give an hour” and so on. Human experience is so wildly varied, I have a hard time digesting many absolutes, which can’t reflect this variegated experience. Everybody knows the circumstances they’re in and what time they have to give; only they can know what’s the right balance for them.

      For my part, all I can write about is me. Once in a while, something pressing will come up truly requiring prompt reply, but most of what’s gotten me riled up is blog and Facebook comments. I’ve told myself it’s my job–part of the social media aspect of the “authorly” side of things–but really, ten minutes daily would suffice where I was putting in 3-4 hours before. So for me, this is typically a choice between Facebook/blog beeps and my son. My balance would be different if it were a “contract or no contract” assessment! 🙂

  18. sowillthisbegraded
    May 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Agh! Every once in a while I have to stop myself with the question “Is this phone truly more important than the tiny human in front of you?” It frustrates me so much that I could let a moment go by with my two perfect babies where I’m not paying attention.

    Thank you for this post.

  19. May 22, 2012 at 11:42 am

    You already are!

  20. June 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Seriously! I just had about three months of solid checking due to a contract I should never have taken. Never again. We will never get these precious years back with our children.

    Beautifully written.

  21. December 16, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I think I found a little gem here. Thanks for following my blog, and I mean that with all my heart, because it lead me back to yours. You write beautifully and your simple posts carry a big punch of a message. Cheers.

  1. May 14, 2012 at 9:44 am
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