Guest post by Jennifer Parianos of That Crazy Homeschooler
I am not sure the exact moment that it happens but, I can tell you when it opened in me. The gradual and silent unfolding of love that occurs when we become mothers. It's an ironic thing really. The more that our love for our child grows and blossoms, the less they need us. It is a slow and deliberate dance that plays out, not in seconds but in fleeting moments that connect our hearts to our brain in the most delicate of fashions.
I am a shadow of the woman I was before motherhood changed me. I would sit and caress my belly at night. Just a small amount of fascia that separated my baby and I. I would dream and hope and picture his life as I thought it would be. Then he was born, placed on me and we locked eyes. My heart swelled with a feeling I had never felt before. A love so addicting that the rest of the world could have stopped and I wouldn't have noticed. His needs are urgent and fierce. My desires become clouded and my priorities shift.
The instinctual grasp of motherhood tethers me to him. He is walking now. I see a glimmer in his eyes as he walks away from me and I realize that I need to become accustomed to letting go. I silently gasp when he falls and wait for his reaction. He looks to me still, to be his compass. I am just now, learning what this means. I wrap him up inside my protective gaze and I will the world to be gentle to him, to treat him fairly.
Each time he smiles I feel it happening. He tells me "I wuv you Mama". The gaping, unbarred heart of mine is raw and exposed. He has feelings now. Anger and frustration abound because he does not yet have the skills to communicate his robust and unyielding awareness of the world. His pain is mine. He gets sick and I physically hurt for him. His laughter and merriment are infectious. We play. We sing. I rock him to sleep each night at my breast. We are connected in a way I never knew possible.
He storms off with a burrowed brow. Stomping his feet and flailing his arms with a tempered and hostile manner. His words sting. "I hate you mama!" I knew this day would come. I remind myself that he wouldn't share such feelings if he did not feel safe with me. His wrath cools and he's in my lap, stroking my face. Butterfly kisses and salty cheeks. I am his soft place, his island of safety. The world pulls him further and I let go a little more. All the while, I am evolving. The gaping abyss of my most inner self is forced to spread out. The expectations I had before are expansive and always altering with each new stage in his life.
I tickle his back while he ponders the calamities of the world. He is filled with questions, some of which, I myself don't know the answer to. He is a boy of 12. Remnants of his baby self come out when he is frustrated. The pull of manhood is on the horizon. As he navigates the world, all it takes is one look from him and I know what's in his heart most days. Other times, I feel lost and helpless. His emotions become stronger than he is. At times, I want to wrap him in my arms and quiet his mind but, he won't let me. I worry for him. He is susceptible. I muster a strength in me I didn't know I had. I assure him that this too shall pass. It is a right of passage. This time in life is filled with wonderment, if only he will stay open to it. I try to impart the tools he will need. I try...
He walks toward me and envelopes me in his powerful yet tender arms. He is man now. His face lacks the roundness that I remember. In it's place, there are sharp edges and prominent features. My insides swell with pride. He assures me that he is all right, that he's doing well. My love for him is a great chasm that is ever changing. It's a precipice, a gaping and expanding mix of emotions that are ingrained into the deepest part of me. He changed me. His love changed me. Life's meaning and purpose are engrossed in my expectations of what he will become. We embrace and lock eyes and I am, once again, unfolded, encircled, enveloped, entwined, untethered. Such is the life of a mother.