I looked in the mirror and about had a heart attack.
What in the hell was that on my face? When did those dark puddles under my skin show up? Why in the hell doesn’t my mirror have a built-in Instagram filter that makes me look 10 years younger?
Most days, I just shrug it off. My list of things to do is too long for me to worry about bags under my eyes. But on this day, at that moment, I just stared.
In fact, I looked at my face and had a hard time seeing anything else. I know, it’s a truly unproductive thought to occupy my headspace but evidently, I wasn’t thinking clearly this morning.
My daughter came into the bathroom and saw me just staring into the dead space under my eyes. My face close to the mirror.
As teenagers do, she moved on quickly to the story she had come in there to tell me.
I kept staring into the mirror.
“Mom, are you listening to me?” she asked impatiently.
I was only half listening.
She obviously couldn’t see the disaster I was dealing with.
“Yes,” I said in a slow, drawn-out manner. “I’m just a little pre-occupied with these dark circles under my eyes.”
Then my daughter said something that was either a profound glimpse of the strong young woman I am raising or a genius move of manipulation to get me to listen to her story.
“Mom, what if your bags hold your superpowers?”
Revolutionary! A lightbulb went off in my head!
Yes! I have dark circles because I’m a working mom. After working a full load for clients, I go pick up my daughter from school and the work of being a mom continues. I can’t watch TV shows past 10 p.m. because I’m either working late in my office at home after my daughter goes to bed or I’m exhausted and fall asleep every time I “rest my eyes” during a commercial.
I have dark circles because I’m a single mom. I stress about having enough money. I wonder if the gap in my child’s heart will ever heal. I do the tough parts of parenting alone with no one to back me up in an argument with a very opinionated teenager.
I have dark circles because I’m a mom. ALL moms worry. We just do. About everything and nothing. About things we shouldn’t and things we should. I know to give myself grace. I know I am a good mom. I know God will take care of us and yet, I still worry.
I have dark circles because I’m an aging mom. I’m getting close to 50. I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I lie there awake counting the minutes. I write emails in my head I’ll never remember. I solve problems. I’m very busy in my head at 3 a.m. Then, just when I start to drift back to sleep, my alarm goes off.
Yet when I look closer (not at my face, Good Lord, NO!) at my life… I see what I’ve done.
I see a happy, pretty well-adjusted kid (who is in therapy just to make sure I don’t miss anything).
I see a career I love that provides for us and lets me use my talents.
I see persistence, and hustle, and grace, and wisdom and humor.
My superpowers. And they’re all right there.