The other day I read or heard someone say you always love your children more than your parents.
New idea to me, but I think it's true. Your relationship with your parents is built on love and gratitude and memories, but your relationship with your children includes responsibility and fierce protectiveness.
I met each of my children in the same plain, small room. The same maple rocking chair stood waiting in the corner both times. The same linoleum floor caught my tears. For each, the first time I held them is etched crystal, sharp relief, clear and smoked.
Evan was wearing a little sailor suit, tiny cloth blue-and-white shoes. He was, at once, impossibly tiny and the biggest thing that ever happened to me. I wrapped him in a blanket, sank into the rocking chair and became—thoroughly and forever—his mother before my butt spread across the hardwood.
Katie was wearing a mint green and white dress and had a tiny mint green bow taped to her head. Looking at pictures now, I know she was funny looking, but to me she was beautiful. We brought a blanket my mother had knitted for her, and as I wrapped her in that blanket, she wrapped me in the joy of having a daughter.
These memories are clear. It's the how of it that's carved so deep it looks smoked. How does merely holding a child for the first time make you love him so deeply? How does it make her yours for all time? The only answer I can come up with is that along with the baby, I was handed the responsibility and privilege of raising a child.
The children became mine through the simple, complex, magical, mundane, overwhelming process of mothering that began in that moment and will continue until my last breath.
Like anything, mothering changes over time. In the beginning, you're 100% responsible for this human being of the tiny variety. Over time, the job is to help your child take responsibility for himself, to make yourself redundant in her life. You work for the day you're not needed, only wanted. It's a tough job: alternately complicated and painful, fun and funny, completely terrifying.
Today, as every year, my thoughts turn to my children's birth mothers. To Evan's, whom we do not know, and to Katie's whom we now do. To Evan's mom, I send my love and thanks and prayers for peace. I had lunch yesterday with N, Katie's birth mother, to thank her. She, too, has my gratitude and my prayers.
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers of all sorts and all women who help children grow and thrive. A big thank you to my own mother and to the women who made me a mother.
All you need is love.