I am not sure when it happens, but there is a moment after birth when everything changes. As we look into our tiny newborns face, and scan their little body, we are bewitched. As we hold them in our arms for the first time we feel them seep through our pores into our soul. We are now as one. They are a part of us, taking up a place in our hearts forever, regardless how long their lives may be.
In those early days we hear them cry and it hurts. Life becomes a never ending cycle of feeding, changing and comforting, all in an effort to make sure they do not cry, to ensure they are happy, and so it continues for many years.
And then the day comes when they are older and we can no longer protect them from hurt or sadness.
Nothing can prepare you for that day when you first see your child hurt by another. It may be at playschool, when you witness another child slap or push your child, or maybe in the playground. You feel a massive wave of protectiveness and an irrational reaction to your child’s pain or dismay. Over time you become accustomed to, and a little less upset by such happenings, but somewhere deep within you, you continue to feel it every time.
Last weekend I was coach to thirty young swimmers in a gala. We began the day with the usual great expectations. There was much excitement accompanied by fraught nerves, not to mention the parents feelings. As can always be predicted at such events, there are highs and lows. Throughout the day there was much to celebrate with so many happy smiling children. However just like in life, not everything went well for everyone. As some young swimmers finished their swims they could not hide their disappointment. With tears overflowing they came to us coaches for a few words of comfort and encouragement. We did our best, but for some the arms of their mothers was the only cure. Parents oblivious to how wet their child was, opened their arms and held their young swimmer. Eventually it was their parents gentle push which allowed them to move away, dry their tears and head off to swim another race. Only in a couple of cases to be once again heartbroken, and so the cycle continued.
As our children get older, we continue to share life’s disappointments with them. Eventually there comes a time when waiting arms no longer cure all. Mothers are left watching from a distance as their children hurt, feeling their pain as strong as always, but unable to lessen it.
Over many years I have stood by my children’s sides unable to help. I have watched as they struggled in school, when friendships crumbled and when illness and bereavement hit hard. As a mother I have felt every sadness, and hurt. I have stayed awake at night worrying, and cried silent tears on their behalf. I have held them in my arms and I have softly kissed them.
For as a mother their hurt and pain are part of me. Would I wish to feel it a little less? Certainly not, for equally their joy and happiness are also mine. I think if we weigh it all up in general the life of a mother is a lot less of a pain than it is a pleasure, and I for one would never chose to change a bar of it.
For in truth, although it may not be the modern thing to say, but I have found being a mother brings me more joy than anything I have ever achieved in my own life.
photo credit: Jack Fussell via photopin cc
photo credit: Martin Gommel via photopin c