A hero is defined by someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
Over the course of my life I have changed how I answer the question of “my hero”. Now to watch my daughter answer for herself on school projects or questionnaires every couple of years helped me recognize that our heroes evolve over time as we learn what the world has to offer and we have to offer in our world.
The heroes we had as children were either a part of our families or part of our weekend television. They met every basic need we had, scored the winning point(s) or saved the world.
We didn’t discriminate. Saving all of Metropolis, throwing a touchdown, or making sure our favorite field trip shirt was laundered, was all the same in our eyes. An outstanding achievement. My hero when I was younger was always a toss up between my mom and Larry Bird. Just depended on when you asked and if it was nearing NBA finals. For my mom, I would write about all the “mom” stuff she did championing my brother and I to do our best and the magic she made happen. It may have just been rides EVERYWHERE, cheering from sidelines, and remembering my favorite foods, but she did it all while working full-time and making it look easy.
As your young world gets bigger and History lessons deepen, we are exposed to people with larger impacts and greater causes. I found myself recognizing the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Eleanor Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela as heroes. These people led with courage and have had lasting accomplishments that impacted our human society for decades.
My hero had officially evolved to choosing an important historical figure in recognition of their noble qualities.
I have followed my daughter’s elementary curriculum and have been excited to learn how these these and many other influential figure’s stories are being taught today. It’s been insightful to make it dinner table conversation. The nostalgia was heartwarming and to hear a 9 year old recount what she thought Martin Luther King, Jr. did for our country and how sad she was about how he died gave me goosebumps. I was okay getting booted as her hero for MLK Jr.
We have also seen the evolution of our Hero through the impact of social influences.
I grew up in the Oprah era, before social media and before anyone knew what a Kardashian was. Everyone wanted Oprah at their dinner table when asked about their “last supper”. She entered our homes on TV and modeled both humility and generosity. It felt cliché but, she was my hero for a time, and I shared that with so many others. With today’s social media influence, it’s important we know who our children recognize as heroes. As a mom, I want to be sure my daughter doesn’t think someone is a hero because of “likes” or lip-glosses but identifies with strong character and recognizes superpowers used for good and not for self.
Can’t choose just one? You’re in luck. Just like all the fictional hero series will tell you, you may need a whole team of heroes.
Today my justice league consists of the women out there killing it being role models for the next generation of boys and girls.
Earning every accolade in recognition of their accomplishments along the way.
My Avengers, they are the women I call friends.
We are each other’s rock, reality and hope.
And, while I may no longer be looking to the hero on the court or wondering if Superman will save us, my mom still makes my list. I will never stop being her daughter and I, in turn, hope my daughters recognize the courage and achievements it takes to be the mom we want to be. Now about those noble qualities…