Recently, I’ve been thinking about mothers, and the particular feeling that they innately create in us. How different the feeling is from that of a father’s.
It’s been almost 10 years since I lost my own mother and three years now since I gave birth to my son, Otto. Becoming a mother was a powerful transition for me and I didn’t realize that the transition was happening until it did. In an instant, the beautiful carefree narcissism of childhood that was still with me well beyond my years of youth, was gone. I went through a rite of passage and in that moment (I remember the exact moment) I learned what it meant to be an adult. I understood what it was to be a mother. And not just any mother, but my mother. Everything that I found annoying and trivial took on a new meaning and was made clear the instant that Otto was placed in my arms. I remember not being able to sleep on the night he was born. All I could think was “what happens if he stops breathing”? and then, “god, this child is mine”. I felt all the intensity behind what she was so desperately and sometimes confusingly trying to show me. I finally heard what my arrogance told me I was too “smart” for. I felt how much she wanted to protect me and I could see that my well-being was probably the motive behind her choices, even those that were less than stellar.
There is a kind of selfless love that a mother gives. It’s like no other love that we will ever encounter. It is primal. Beyond choice or reason. It’s a real-time experience of unconditional love and the feeling that I experienced from her love was something like having my own special place in the world. It was totally mine, no matter when and no matter what. I really miss that place. I know it’s what my son feels when he jumps into my arms because those are his arms and his place as he says, “my mama!” But I also know that this isn’t everyone’s experience. I wish it were. It’s also not to say that Mom and I didn’t have our moments. But I was lucky because no matter what she did and more importantly, no matter what I did, she loved me in every way she could. Although many of my choices as a mother are different, this “feeling” is what I pass on to and share with my son.
Mom and I shared many things, but what I cherish most is the way she loved me. It was without condition, without thought or reason ... it was simply love.