My Wish for a Mom Superpower: Supercharged Empathy

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Hi, my name is Moira and I live with…
  • my husband
  • our two children
  • at my mother’s house
  • along with my grandmother
Wonky policy people call us a four-generation household.
 
Let me stop you right there before you can even think, “poor girl!”, “that’s so sad!” or “that sounds miserable…”. 
 
As the late great Tom Petty sings, 
 
You don’t know how it feels
No, you don’t know how it feels to be me
 
Which got me thinking–what if we all had a sixth sense or superpower to know exactly how someone else feels? Some people might call this empathy, but I am thinking about supercharged empathy, like the ability to immediately and innately understand one another. 
 

If you had the empathy superpower to know how I am feeling,

  • you would know that after living in Texas for the last three years, I am so glad to be home in DC, even if it means being literally in my childhood home;
  • you would also know that if our marriage can survive it, I appreciate this sweet time that my kids are living under the same roof as my grandmother (called Honey) and my mother (called Sugar); 
  • you would know that now we have sold our house in Texas and recently closed on a home here in DC, our #multigenerational household dream is soon coming to an end, and I have mixed feelings. 

 

Empathy in the World

I’m not the first person to think empathy is the best superpower–J.C.  McBride beat me to it on Medium. As he writes, “Empathy is the ability not only to understand what someone else is feeling or experiencing, but also the ability to share that feeling or experience. Empathy is more profound than sympathy and more intense than being able to identify with someone else.” 
 
So much in our world, country and relationships could be saved if we could all know and adopt exactly how someone else is feeling, bridging the gap of misunderstanding. I’m sure even our highest officials find themselves thinking, “you don’t know how it feels to be me.” 

 

Empathy for Moms 

So dear friend, where does that leave us as the original superhero–charged with raising our own kids and, together with our fellow mothers, raising a generation, but without superpowers or a sixth sense?

I do not know–I’m not a psychologist or parenting expert, I am just a mom! 
 
I am just a mom trying to do the best by her kids, but without time or energy to read a book about empathy and parenting. Instead of focusing on teaching my kids empathy, my focus is to exhibit empathy knowing that, at least at this young age, they will imitate the behaviors they observe. Yes, if my kid is frustrated I will say in my best Mom Tiger voice, “I can see you are frustrated” but do I feel that feeling with him? No, I’m just trying to diffuse the problem. I hypothesize that if I can really channel toddler feelings, then I’m going to unlock the next pro level of mommy. In the beginning, it may be more like acting, but fake it until you make it, am I right? 

 

Reach Out with Listening Ears

It may be easier to empathize with our fellow moms than a child. Some of the “strongest” moms I know (no relation to physical fitness) are the women who selflessly reach other moms wherever they are. They are the bridge builders whose work makes the bridge stronger, not just building to reach the other side. In an effort to better empathize with my fellow moms, my focus is to ask questions to better understand her mind and feelings and share with her in her joys and burdens. 
 
Will you join me in this practice? 
 
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Born at what is now the Trader Joe’s at 25th and L Streets NW, Moira is a DC native. She is married to her love from New Orleans, and mother to the Master and Little Miss of Tottering Hall. Recently returned from a three-year tour in Texas, she learned so much from living in this foreign culture. Besides sweet friends, one of her happiest memories is reading “My First Mother’s Day” in the 2016 Listen to Your Mother San Antonio show. Back on terra firma, she and her husband are District first-time home-buyers and embarking on a renovation—so keep her in your prayers. She holds degrees from Colgate University and the London School of Economics and Political Science, which has zero bearing on day to day life with two small children. Likes: wine, college basketball, crime and police dramas, MasterChef Australia Dislikes: anyone under 30