I love Halloween. I’ve dressed up every year, even as an adult, and for many years we’ve done a family costume. Last year, we were all zombies, which somehow made sense.
But this year didn’t feel like a zombie year. Tommy, in particular, was stuck on the idea of being Spiderman, and when I thought about it, the Avengers seemed like a pretty easy theme. And plus – I could be the best superhero of all: Black Widow.
Claire and Austin acquiesced, with the caveat that they’d each get another costume to wear to school. (I gave in, even though it’s a silly expense. See aforementioned love of Halloween.) For our family costume, Claire chose to be Captain Marvel and Austin would be the Hulk.
We’d all seen the latest Avengers movie a few months earlier, and of course, I loved the idea that I could be a character named Black Widow.
I decided on being Black Widow before doing much research at all about who this character really was. I’d seen some of the Avengers movies and I figured, hey, she’s a super-powered widow. And I definitely wanted to be a super-powered widow.
Turns out, Black Widow doesn’t have any real super powers. I know! I mean, while she is bio-enhanced with ‘super soldier serum’ (like Captain America) she can’t fly or change her size and she doesn’t rely on fancy technological weapons. Also, Black Widow became Black Widow before she was even a widow! Her marriage to a Soviet test pilot ended when he was trained as a KGB agent and was told to cut off contact with her. She was then told he died. (But did he? Who knew! It wasn’t until much later that she found out he was alive – and then he died saving her.)
But she is still an Avenger. And at times, in both the comic books and the cinematic universe times, she has been the leader.
Plus, she’s got a bad-ass costume.
My kids are so used to me talking about being a widow at this point that they treat it like any other word. “My mom is going to be Black Widow because she’s a widow,” I heard Austin telling a friend the other day. It’s just a fact for them. “Widow” has no real negative connotations for them, as they know plenty of widows now – women who call me or drop by our house or who I talk about in casual conversation. It’s not a word I whisper. It’s a word I saw like I’d say “husband” or “wife.”
But I digress. The point of our family Avengers costume was to empower my kids. I also wanted to show them the side of Black Widow that I really admired: the super hero side.
But now I know that Black Widow doesn’t have super powers. She just has herself. She didn’t have anyone coming to rescue her once her husband died (or disappeared.) She had her training and her wits, but in many cases she was alone until she met the Avengers.
Once they were all together, they managed to save the world. Really, the story of the Avengers is our story. We are stronger together.
And maybe – just maybe – the story of Black Widow is my story too. I don’t have any super powers. In many ways, I’m just like any other person who is stumbling through this life. I can’t throw a truck across the road or transform myself in unique circumstances. Like Black Widow, I’ve found myself alone, with nothing special to help me through this life besides my desire to just keep going.
The Avengers is the best family costume we’ve ever had, and it’s not just because I get to don a red wig and pretend I know martial arts. It’s also because the Avengers is the story of facing all the bad stuff in life, and somehow coming out intact and alive.
It’s us against the world, kids, and we’re making it.
And for us, that’s just as important as saving the world.
Image Credit: Becky Hale Photography.