Monday, September 28, 2009


I love my kids, I'm just rather blasé about motherhood. I don't really even think of myself as a mother. I don't even like that word. To this day, after almost twelve years of being a mother, I still find it shocking that I have kids. A mother? Me?? Really??? Who thought that would be a good idea?? Not me. I decided when I was 14 to never have kids. A familial history of exceptional fertility had other ideas.
When I came home from the hospital with my first, I had the unsettling feeling that I was watching over someone else's baby. Why on earth would I have a baby anyway?? Especially if she's going to need things ALL THE TIME! I remember looking down at her trying to reconcile the fact that her real mother was never coming with my need to not have to be continuously responsible for this tiny person's every need. It's a good thing I have a husband who was more than willing to help out or I might still be frozen, staring in disbelieving terror at the enormous responsibility nestled in my arms.
It is a loud, clear testament to those mothering instincts honed over millennia, that my kids have survived as well as they have. But the moments I find most amazing are those moments when we become the essence of motherhood. Those moments when all of ourselves is distilled into that singular calling.
Your child is in danger and suddenly everything else is gone. There are only two existences in all the world: You and your child. You do things you would never, ever do for another person. Your heart races so fast, you might think you're having a heart attack, but you don't care. Your arms and legs go numb, you might thing you're having a stroke, if you were able to focus on such banalities, which you can't. Your child is in danger. All that matters is that child and this instant.
I had one of those moments tonight. My youngest and I were in the garage, looking for a stuffed animal that had been mistakenly packed up. I was searching through a box when I heard her fall. At first I thought it was an ordinary fall. Just last week I had accidentally knocked her off her bike and she sprang right back up unfazed. But this time was different. She panicked. I looked over to see blood spilling out of her mouth. Then everything else went quiet. It didn't matter that I had a million things on my mind, that I was busy doing something else, that I was wearing a brand new shirt for the first time. All that mattered was her, right now. Before I knew it, I was holding her in my arms, running for the house.
"I hate blood, I hate blood, I hate blood!" She said over and over again, her voice trembling.
Without even thinking about it, I held my hand under her chin. I'm OK with blood, but someone spitting blood into my hand? Not so much. Her spitting blood in my hand, right then? Sure! Why not?
We made it to the sink and a new wave of adrenaline washed over me as I got my first close look at her lip. It looked really, really bad. I grabbed a towel and pressed it against her mouth. My oldest, who is normally much to busy to be bothered with anything was fetching me the iodine and gauze, hovering near us to see what was going to happen next.
After a while she stopped bleeding and I realized her wound was not as severe as I initially thought. Everyone calmed down. Crisis over. I came back to myself.
Afterwords, when everything is alright again, I think back, marveling at how it seems like I became someone else. In those moments, I have a purpose in life. One purpose in life. A purpose that eclipses all other purposes. I know that I must achieve that purpose. Failure, for once, is not an option. Hesitation, is not an option. All my senses are honed to achieve that purpose. I know, with certainty, that I will succeed, I must succeed. My mind is empty of everything except what will help me to fulfill my purpose. Nothing else matters, nothing else is there. I thought I'd been faking it all this time, but I really am a mother!!
The other part is the glimpse of how life should be. Why do we let ourselves get bogged down with all these thoughts and worries that don't matter? Why do we hesitate, confuse ourselves, forget the big picture? Why can't we always have such a clear mind? In those instants, we are completely focused on the present. All the other nonsense goes away. And that's how it should be. Only, try to do it without the busted lip.


Kimberly said...

I never wanted children. Being one of eight put me off. I wanted ten dogs. I was given my son and that was that.

When he was sick with mono and was down to 114 lbs at six feet tall, and the hospital STILL wouldn't admit him, I shocked my self when I found that it took no thought at all to push that asshole doctor up against the wall and suggest he rethink his decision. Dakoda was there for six days.

You are right. When it comes to your kids, nothing and I mean NOTHING can keep you from protecting them.

Expat Wannabe said...

I remember that! That happened right after I started working there. It is shocking, what all of a sudden feels like a perfectly normal thing to do when your kid needs you, then later, you're like, "I really did that??"