Sunday, May 12, 2013
The moment of birth transfers your heart from your inside to the outside where it runs and plays and learns and grows and loves and suffers heartache. It is the one part of you that you cannot keep hold of, cannot shield from the world with your physical person. If you have more than one child, then you know the miracle of having more than one heart – try to catch them running off in all directions! It, literally, takes the breath out of your body.
Nothing else in life can bring this kind of joy. Nothing else in life can bring this kind of angst.
The instinct. You either have it, or you don't. We watch and read with horror about the “don'ts”, and we don't celebrate them this day, but we celebrate their children who are baby birds with their mouths open, waiting expectantly for nourishment. Mothers of adopted baby birds, I salute you for filling their mouths with food and for filling their hearts with love.
I always said that when you become a parent, you were blessed if you had at least one good role model to follow. We, as our mothers before us, were foist into a position one can never be prepared for. We received on-the-job-training and lots of well-meant advice. However, at 3:00 in the morning, with a sobbing child in your arms, all manner of nightmares goes through your head and you're sure of only one thing – you must have done something wrong. Baby experts be damned, you're taking that child out of his crib and folding him into the crook of your now-empty stomach and falling asleep together with your lips on his sweet-smelling hair. Or, at least, that's what I did. Sometimes.
I hear some parents lament the passage from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, as if the little person they enjoyed so much disappears. For me, though, watching my children morph into adults absolutely enthralls me. Even when they err in judgment or suffer a heartache, though I feel it acutely, I am in awe of these responsible hearts that I've let go into the world, to bring love to someone else's life and to start the whole cycle over. They're the ones driving now and I'm in the back seat of the car, asking questions, giggling, and shocking them with irreverent comments while they lecture me about the dangers of the world in which we live, teach me about ancient philosophers, and try to educate me about the scientific principles that have become their life's work.
"Will there be a test? Are we there yet?” I ask. They look at me indulgently and shake their heads.
Perhaps only because we live in an age of electronic recording and I have captured so many of those moments over the years, I don't feel any loss. My hearts are geographically distant, but beating next to mine. I will turn on my videos today and there will be birthdays, holidays, proms, graduations, and a wedding. I'll watch them learn to speak, learn to walk, learn to read, turn anything bowl-shaped into a hat, toddle around in their father's big shoes, and try to pay attention during award ceremonies because Mom's out there with the video camera.
Clowns, geniuses, pranksters, warriors, these heart of mine are. I am truly blessed.
Happy Mother's Day!