The Invisible Heroes of History; a mother’s day reflection

It was the dark middle of the night. I could hardly see two feet in front of me with tears blurring my vision and my 8 year old body trembling from chills and the threat of embarrassment. I had wet the bed, at a friends house, during a group sleepover, no less! The thought of waking up with the other kids and having to own the stench, evidenced by my wet pj’s and a stained sleeping bag, was… terrifying.

I tiptoed my way through the living room into the kitchen where the telephone was — one of those ancient house phones with cords attached to the wall. “Mama!” I whispered, after dialing my home number as quietly as I could. “I wet the bed. What should I do?” I said, still teary and shaken.

My mom assured me that I’d be ok and 15 minutes later, she arrived at the front door with fresh pj’s and a clean sleeping bag. We hugged goodbye and she spoke into my ear, “See sweetheart, everything is going to be ok. Now go back to sleep. I love you.”

The next morning, no one knew of my rescue in the night. We woke up early to watch cartoons, eat pancakes and choreograph dance moves to our favorite songs. It was a seamless slumber party and my mom was the invisible hero.

Reminds me of Sue Storm-Richards or, “Invisible Woman” of the Fantastic Four, Marvel comics. She had the superpower to use her mental energy to render herself invisible as she saved people and fought for justice.

I always knew my mom had the superpower to save the day when no one was looking.

One of society’s greatest downfalls is its imbalance of celebrating certain figures into legend status while leaving others, even those with great historical contribution, behind as mere footnotes; the invisible heroes of our collective story.

Last month, I was on a peacemaking trip in Tijuana, Mexico with Global Immersion, sitting across the room from mothers who’d been deported from the US, leaving their children behind. These mothers formed an organization called, DREAMERSmoms, pushing through heartache and holding on to hope for their seemingly impossible dream to one day be reunited with their family. There was a fire of devotion in their eyes as these invisible heroes named each of their children and expressed their desires for immigration education and reform.

I’ve seen this fire of devoted love in the eyes of invisible heroes all over the world. Palestinian mothers who’ve lost a child to bi-national violence who, through forgiveness, dedicate themselves to forging peace and justice in creative ways. South African mothers who adopt children as their own, providing shelter against pending kidnapping or slavery. Or here in my own neighborhood, mothers in drug and alcohol recovery, who commit themselves to programs of sobriety and support so they can be with their kids again. These invisible heroes are everywhere and we’ve all survived because of them.

It is women like these who embody the love of God in ways only a mother can. It was my mother who taught me that God, whose love, as it says in Psalm 42, directs us by day and sings over us by night. “It will be ok,” a mother says. “I love you.”

So Happy Mother’s day to the invisible heroes of the past and present.

We see you.