This post has been rattling its way from the back of my brain to the front and back again for a few weeks. Since right around Valentine’s Day actually. I kept pushing it to the back of my brain for fear I couldn’t get it right. Today seemed like a good day to try.
Valentine’s Day is obviously all about love – mainly romantic love. But for me, and this is probably because I became a mother for the first time on Valentine’s Day and for the third time the day after Valentine’s Day, it is also very much about mother love. And in my opinion mother love truly is the most powerful force in the universe.
What mother hasn’t had an experience where she was bolder, louder, stronger or more courageous than she thought she could be merely because her child needed her to be? What mother hasn’t had the almost overwhelming urge to take matters into her own hands when her child is hurt – physically or emotionally -- by another child? We are all mama bears, protecting our cubs at all cost. And that is a truly wonderful, beautiful and sometimes scary thing.
Before I became a mother, I worked with kids who had learning and/or developmental challenges. Some of my very favorite students were those who had autism. A particular little boy and his mom remain in my heart to this day. This little boy was beyond precious. He was five-years-old and loved animals – particularly aquatic animals. He and I had a special bond and he used to come into my office to have lunch with me. To say I adored this little man is an understatement J His mother was a hero of mine at the time. I can still I recall conversations I had with her which inspire me as a mom to my three beans.
This mom was always cheerful, upbeat and positive about her son’s challenges and his potential. She was an enormous part of his success. But one day stands out in my mind more than all the rest. That day when she brought her son to me, her face was hard and her eyes wet with tears she hadn’t yet allowed to fall. Through clenched teeth she told me about having just driven past the home of a neighbor whose children came down to play with her son – and all of his toys – almost daily. They made themselves at home at her house and she welcomed them. These children were having a big birthday party that day and had not invited her son. This slight may or may not have had to do with this precious boy having autism. More than likely it did. But this wonderful, kind, upbeat mother changed in that moment – and only for a moment. She simply told me that she didn’t care if he learned anything that day. She just wanted him to feel special and to have fun. She charged me with making sure that happened. And it did.
That mother was an example to me of how powerful mother love can be in the way she loved her son – exactly as he was – and how she championed him. He will be successful and reach his potential in large part because of her. She was also an example to me of how deeply we as mothers feel our children’s pain. I didn’t understand fully at the time, because I wasn’t yet a mom. I understand now.
Mother love is the most natural, nearly reflexive kind of love. It is elemental. I love my husband. There is no doubt about that. But I also know that as I got to know him and to this day, I choose to love him, to keep loving him and to grow in my love for him. Without staying conscious and making that continuous choice, our love won’t continue to strengthen and deepen. Mother love is very different. I never had to choose to love my kids. It just was. And each day it continues to be something that grows bigger than I ever imagined it could.
Imagine what we could do if we could somehow harness the power of a mother’s love.