For the last six months my husband and I have been reading the Harry Potter books to our kids before bedtime. Last night we finished the seventh book, and like I always do when good stories come to an end, I felt a bit sad. Ever since I was a child I have always struggled against the longing to be a character in a book. I have spent weeks of my life yearning that I could be Anne, from Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia, and countless other heroines. I don’t think I have outgrown this longing, because the same thing happened to me again with Harry Potter. For the last few days I have been feeling sad that my life is not as exciting, glamorous, or important as the characters in Harry Potter. My life of changing diapers, cooking meals, and washing dishes has seemed stifling and exceptionally boring the last few weeks. I have found myself longing for magical power, a quest, a mentor, and something important to do that would change the world in a big way.
In fact, this morning as I was setting out the cereal bowls and pouring milk, I was brooding over how un-Harry Potter-ish my life is and wishing that I could magically transform myself into something exciting. “No one ever writes a book with a Mom as the heroine,” I thought to myself, “Moms never do anything important in books.” But then I had to stop right there, because I realized that mothers play a big part in Harry Potter.
I remembered that one of the main themes that runs throughout the Harry Potter books is the power love, and it’s ability to conquer evil. In fact, when Voldemort tries to kill Harry as a baby it is his mother, Lily, who stands up to him and sacrifices her life for her son. Her sacrifice is a powerful type of love that leaves a protection on Harry that makes him virtually untouchable by the evil forces that try to take him down. Her love is the most powerful magic in the whole book. In the end it is her love, which Voldemort unknowingly takes into himself when he takes Harry’s blood, that allows Harry to overcome death and come back to defeat Voldemort once and for all.
As I ate my cereal this morning and I pondered about that idea; that the one who ultimately finishes off Voldemort, the greatest evil the magical world had ever known, was Lily Potter. It was a mother’s love that enabled her son with the power and protection to destroy evil and save the world. As that powerful thought settled in my mind I wondered if I had that type of love. As I watched my four little blonde heads argue and tease each other across their breakfast bowls I wondered if I would die for them. I knew that I loved them, but sometimes I feel really selfish. Being a mother is hard for me and there are days when I fantasize about how nice it would be to be unencumbered by them. So a part of me honestly wondered, “Would I die for them? Did I have that type of love?”
I thought about that as I was cleaning up spilled milk and putting cereal bowls in the sink, and then it hit me. I did love them like that, because I had already shown I was willing to sacrifice my life for them. I thought back to the nights and days when I had given birth to each of them and how, even though I was never in any real danger of dying, I had walked to the edge of death and back for each of them. I had willingly undergone intense pain and anguish for them, and I knew that if it had come down to it I would have given my life to have let them live. As I washed dishes the power of that knowledge settled in my heart and I realized that I did have that type of love, the type of love that protects and empowers; the type of love that destroys and overcomes evil.
Then I thought of the scene we had read last night, where in the final moments of the battle at Hogwarts Molly Weasley, the epitome of the frumpy housewife, takes on Bellatrix Lestrange, a powerful dark witch who can duel three grown wizards at a time. When Bellatrix tries to kill her daughter, Molly rises up, a fierce lioness, and takes her on– single handedly. Bellatrix is surprised when a small, frumpy mother’s skill and power out matches her own and she is overcome. Mrs. Weasley defeat of Bellatrix might just be my new favorite part of the book, because it reminded me that you can never underestimate a mother.
I think that sometimes I feel so unimportant in the whole big drama of the world, and I feel helpless and powerless to make a lasting change for good. There are times that my mothering and my efforts to love and nurture others seems like a royal waste of time and talent. Yet then I think back to Lily Potter and Molly Weasley and see how, between the two of them, they took down the two most evil forces of their time. Their story reminds me that even though I might not look like anything special, in my heart there is real power. I have shown my willingness to die for others, and that is a power that protects and enables. I have the power of a mother’s love, which might just be the most powerful type of magic there is.
So watch out.