I should have identified her superpower that winter morning when she was three years old. Dragging her soft white blanky, she walked into our kitchen and matter of factly stated that she “threw up” during the night. I looked at her in her little bowl hair cut and purple pajamas and said, “Julia, you didn’t wake me up to tell me?” She simply said, “no.” Mom guilt settling in, I prodded, “Do I need to go clean anything up?” She looked at me with her big brown eyes, “I cleaned it up, Mom.”
I also should have called it when she was nine years old and in her first year of basketball at the YMCA. Dressed in her oversized red jersey imprinted with the Firecrackers team logo, she was sent to the free throw line near the end of a tie game. I don’t recall if she made the shots, but I do recall her coach saying, “She has ice water in her veins.”
I’ve relied on that coach’s words many times as I’ve watch her put herself into situations that would certainly make my own voice shake and my knees wobble. I recall hearing her soprano voice soar in a solo in front of a packed theater for the Peace Prize Forum. Too many times I’ve waited for her to drive home in bad weather when she—earlier than expected—pops into the house casually with a “it wasn’t that bad, Mom.”
In this world of Marvel movies, characters with superpowers get us dreaming of what it would be like to jump across the tops of skyscrapers, eliminate enemies by projecting our lethal vision, or—my personal favorite—the mom from The Incredibles, Elastigirl Helen Parr. I dream of stretching my arms to reach anything I want from the comfort of my couch. Read more about Helen’s powers at the link. She’s incredible, but so is my daughter.
Julia recently started her medical residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She is training to be a pediatrician. When we visit on the phone she talks matter of factly about the procedures and emergencies that she is learning to handle. I know she takes her superpower into each exam room and hospital suite—what a privilege to share it with those scared little children and their anxious moms and dads.
So you may be guessing what is her superpower. It took me awhile to pinpoint it. I’m not an expert in superpowers so I did do a bit of research and found that there is actually an inventory of such things. It would be nice if one could shop on Amazon for superpowers—maybe even have one arrive overnight packaged with a corresponding cape. My daughter’s superpower doesn’t seem to make any of the lists. However, writer Kent Valentine comments on it when he writes, “(It) is often underrated, or overlooked entirely, . . .and is one of the most valuable qualities anyone of us can develop. Period.” Brené Brown defines it in her book, Gifts of Imperfection as “creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” This superpower is so desired that it is now available though an app—that is currently valued at $250 million dollars.
By now you have probably guessed it—yes, it is CALM. That far from dramatic or flashy or top of mind superpower, calm. Just saying the word makes my breath slow. That’s how I feel around my daughter. Calm.
I often like to attach a scripture to my posts. The one that has repeatedly come to my mind and heart as I write this for Julia is “Be still and know that I am God.” from Psalm 46. Repeat that a few times and feel your superpower grow.
Brené Brown describes stillness as “not about focusing on nothingness, it’s about creating a clearing.” Create a clearing in your life for calm today. It’s guaranteed to make you a superhero in someone’s life. Cape optional.
Happy 28th birthday, Julia! August 3, 2019