The Power Of My Mom’s Capes

I went into my son’s room the other day. It is kind of quiet in there, what with the away at school thing we have going on. I just like going in there.  Hooked on the back of the door are three little kid sized capes.

My Mom’s Capes

Superman (comic book)

Image via Wikipedia

My mother can make anything. She has always been that sort, always will be. If you give her two things, she will make a third whose function is barely related to the original. Her creative ability is unrivaled. This ability was a real help when I was very young.

My parents and I lived in a tenement apartment, two floors above my grandparents, in Hoboken, NJ. My folks were young and struggling to get their feet under them; there wasn’t a lot of money coming in. Options for getting me outside were pretty limited. It was a tough spot to be in with a little boy who wanted to run and play. My mom’s creative ability saved the day by keeping me busy and growing despite the situation.

When she saw that I loved watching the scuba divers on a Jacques Cousteau television special, my mother made me a pair of swim fins out of foam rubber. Those fins wouldn’t have done me any good in the ocean. But I could wear them when I jumped into the living room sea from my couch boat and have all kinds of adventures, just like the guys on TV.

My mother also mastered cape making. If I wanted to become Batman or Superman, she’d make that happen with a towel or pillowcase and a safety-pin. With my plaid cape, there was nothing I could not take on. Those capes helped me build confidence.

The Second Generation Of Capes

Over the years, Mom’s cape making technique became more advanced. The new generation never wore heavy pillowcase capes.  She started making her capes with new materials that would flutter in the wind behind a running grandson.

There’s nothing more humiliating to a superhero than to have to go to someone to help pin his cape on. Realizing that, she updated her 1960’s design with adjustable Velcro neck bands so little hands could put a cape on without assistance. Safety pin tragedies became a thing of the past.

One of my favorite photos of my son shows him with one of Mom’s capes on. He is about three years old in the picture. Everything about him says this is a little boy ready to take on the world – the confident look on his face, the gleam in his eye, and his body language.

That little boy was ready. He isn’t three anymore, he is on his own at school. Tests and papers come up and he knocks them down. His grades are strong. My worries about how he’d do at this advanced level fade every day. He takes on these challenges with powers far exceeding those of the average college student.

His confidence looks natural on him. Like it belongs there. Like Mom’s capes.


51 Comments on “The Power Of My Mom’s Capes”

  1. planetross says:

    Am I the first to respond? Wow!

    My Mother was pretty good with a needle and thread in her day. I could have been anything on Halloween, but I usually opted for the Pirate option. I’m sure my Mother was disappointed.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Obviously, Oma, you have fashioned super-hero capes for your son without using fabric or velcro. If your son is anything like you, he will go through life with super powers that are far better than leaping tall buildings. You should be proud.

  3. Debbie says:

    Outstanding memory & tribute, Oma! I don’t want to sound like an “old fogey,” but kids back then grew up with their imaginations intact; today, unfortunately, we feather their nests so softly that sometimes they’re afraid to live. Sounds as if you’ve got your son on the right track, and he’ll be able to soar!

  4. Z.N. Singer says:

    Lovely tribute, really brought up nostalgia for me – my mother was perhaps equally creative, but she’d also learned sewing from her mother: our capes were original creations from the beginning. And were our favoritest like, forever. I’m not sure if we still have any anymore, that was a long time ago…but I really enjoyed reading this.

  5. Hippie Cahier says:

    “Well he’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith
    Just spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”

  6. madtante says:

    I love hearing good parent stories!

  7. Todd Pack says:

    Lucky. I had to use bath towels fastened with safety pins.

  8. I wish I could commission your mom to make next year’s Halloween costume.

  9. pattypunker says:

    i don’t even know how to sew a button back on. but i know the dry cleaners with the least expensive tailoring.

    so happy to hear how well your son is doing. you should be beaming with pride.

  10. Katybeth says:

    Did I read a little wistfulness into the tone of that post? A dad missing a boy….
    Cole wore capes with every outfit he owned when he was little-I can not sew but I am talented with safety pins, duck tape.

    Wishing you a super dad and son visit soon.

  11. betty says:

    Do you ever let the omawarison borrow your omawarisan “helmut”?

  12. Spectra says:

    I can feel both your pride, and the hint of loss at the missing little boy. I mean, the part when he was small. I have no kids, so I have to relate/translate most parent-stories to when I had my little dog. She liked wearing big necklaces when she was a “kid”, even though she tripped over them. I think she liked that it made me laugh, and was always more than happy to slip into one. But her childhood soon passed, and we settled on just cool collars for her. And as she got older, those darned corny harnesses, to save her neck muscles. (sorta the equivlant of orthepedic shoes) When I remember her life, I most often rush to the memories of her as a silly, carefree puppy, without any of the later medical problems.

    Did I get the translation right at all? Am I even just a tiny bit close??

    • omawarisan says:

      Well, luckily we don’t have the medical problems.

      With my son, its kind of a mix, I love the little kid stuff, but enjoy the current stuff so much.

      • Spectra says:

        Well of course my dog hit middle age at 7 years. She was an octogenarian by 12. You probably won’t ever get to see that part. Unless your Mother’s Capes truly do possess Super Powers!

  13. I love the foam rubber swim fins! I think both you and your son were lucky with parents!


  14. Hippie shared this, and I’m glad she did. A terrific tribute to your mom and your son. The last line says it all. Those capes were strong enough to bring three generations together.

  15. linlah says:

    There’s nothing better than a super hero cape, real or imagined, to keep you strong.

  16. We found him Captain!! says:

    I join you in expressing your appreciation for the fine capes you were privileged to wear over the years. Your writing is a tribute to a woman who could probably charm Attila the Hun to give up his horse.

    Nice writing and it’s great that you realize how fortunate you are. Thanks for a charming and true story. keep up the good work…You are a pretty good parent yourself.

  17. Greg says:

    Plaid cape: Awesome. This made me think of me and my little sister in the early 70’s becoming Batman and Robin using bath towels and safety pins. As you know, the Batman cape was draped vertically and the Robin cape was pinned around the neck horizontally. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember Robin ever wearing a cape.

    You mention North Carolina on your “about” page. I will be in Charlotte in one week. Although I’ll be there with one of my weirdo California bosses, I’m looking forward to seeing this city and the state. I’ve never been there before.

    • omawarisan says:

      Once it is on, it doesnt matter that your cape is plaid, it is behind you. I think that’s how it works.

      You’re coming to Charlotte at a good time of year, the weather will be great. Where are you staying?

  18. gmomj says:

    Your mom sounds absolutely awesome. Mine made veils from pillowcases. Well actually she just draped the pillowcase over my sister’s and my head. We were always brides. Little wonder we have 13 children between us. What an effect parents have on kids. I am making Hoo a cape this very instant!

  19. jaerae1971 says:

    I love what you’ve written….this really touches me on several levels. My mom was an amazing woman and mother, and even better grandmother to my 3 boys. They wouldn’t be the amazing men they are becoming if it wasn’t for her. It may not have been in the form of a cape, but my mom helped them all to fly in their own way. My 19 year old was just excepted into the nursing program at University of Michigan, a career choice he made because of her. Thanks for writing this one…..I’m smiling.

  20. […] Mother’s Day upon us, I’m just going to point you all back at that post and use it to say happy day to my mom, still the best in the […]

  21. […] promises. They  have their capes tied on tight and they aren’t afraid of  nothin’.  (thank you Blurt for this song…thank you a […]

  22. […] I’m still looking for something to write for Mothers Day. In case I don’t find something, head on back to my Mom’s favorite post. […]

  23. omawarisan says:

    Reblogged this on Blurt and commented:

    Well, it has been a busy week. The cat has allergies, I had stuff to get done at home, my son is graduating from college and Mother’s Day is Sunday.

    I’m re-posting this piece from four years ago in honor of my Mom and my son, two of my favorite people and because I like it. Got a problem with that? Well maybe I’ll just bring my cat over and let him sneeze on you.

  24. robincoyle says:

    My cape when I was growing up was a bath towel secured with a clothespin. Very superhero-ish in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond kind of way. Perhaps your son is wearing one of his grandmother’s creations while he studies for finals?

  25. What wonderful memories you have of your life as a child, and then again, watching your own son grow healthy and happy.

  26. "We found him Captain!" says:

    How fortunate are we? Mom has always been “the wind beneath our wings” allowing us to “fly higher than an eagle” without her I would still be bagging groceries in some A&P. She doesn’t know that she’s my hero!

  27. pegoleg says:

    Your mom sounds like a superhero herself – lovely! Congratulations on the graduation.

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