Last week when I picked X up from school, she mentioned she was preparing for a presentation. “We have to talk about heroes, who our hero is.” Before I even had a chance to think she said, “I chose you.” And then, “Well, I couldn't think of anyone else.” We'd pulled into the garage, and as she hefted her impossibly heavy middle school backpack over her shoulder I slammed my car door and laughed.
You couldn't think of anyone else?” I asked in a mock-incredulous voice. She giggled, heading into the house, but looked sorry, and I regretted what I'd said. “It was just funny, I didn't even have time to be honored and say thank you, and then you said I was the only one you could think of!”
Expecting a migraine related speech
I felt bad for making her uncomfortable about it, but I let the warm feelings flood my heart from the fact that she had chosen me. We'd talked often about what we always referred to as my “illness” and how it could be both a challenge and, sort of, a blessing. I assumed that she would talk about how I was still a great mom, and in fact a better one, because I'm able to be home instead of working all evening like I used to at my local community center. And that she and Zo had learned empathy as my daughters, and that I write for Migraine.com and work for our local online news journal despite my disability. I thought self-consciously of how every day that week I hadn't been able to get out of bed before noon.
Grateful for an accepting and supportive mom
Once I had picked up Zo (school ends an hour later for her) and we were settled in the living room in front of the show Steven Universe, I asked X, “So what are you going to say about me? Migraine stuff?”
Um, no,” she responded, not taking her eyes from her iPad OR the TV in that uncanny way almost-thirteen year olds have. “I'm going to talk about how you... um, you know, accept me exactly as I am,” I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped open. “And also, you know, you introduced me to theatre when I was 9 and from then on I was in every play and that made me who I am now.”
Two true heroes
I think I probably made some sort of “Oh yeah, thank you sweetheart,” kind of comment, but a lot of things were roaring through my brain at that moment. I thought again about how I'd been having trouble with depression lately and hadn't been out of bed much and when I had been, I was dragging around like a sad sack. I thought about how X had come out as gay over the summer and how much her theatre friends had helped her be confident and proud, and how she didn't hesitate to tell a single person, even her friends with conservative families, and stood up to anyone at school who seemed to have a problem with it. I thought about how I had never been that brave, especially not as a kid and young adult, and how that kind of made her MY hero. But she was right, I took her to her first audition, which led to those friends and that confidence.
And I thought about how, when X chose me as her hero, she didn't do it because I rise above my disease, or advocate for others, or anything at all to do with migraine. She was honoring ME, just me, without migraine. And that made all the difference.
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