When my first son, Kevin, was born, I received one of those “page-a-day” calendars with sayings for new mothers. The one that has stayed with me all these years is a quote from Elizabeth Stone:
“Making the decision to have a child…is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Boy, oh, boy, did she nail it! Kevin’s and Brian’s feelings toward me have certainly changed over the years, as have mine about my parents. But mine about them have not changed one bit. They are my heart–divided in two–walking around wherever they go.
I know that they know that, but I wish they could feel it. It would slam them like a tsunami, knock them off their feet and make them see spots as their brains struggled to process the overload. That’s probably why only moms feel that way–no one else is strong enough to withstand its power.
So here I am, this impassioned bundle of maternal fervor, watching my sons navigate the treacherous waters of adult life. They are not babies any more, and I do not consider them so, in spite of what I say in casual conversation. They are adults, and they are good men, loyal, honest, and compassionate. They are also good company, intelligent, thoughtful conversationalists, and I am grateful for whatever time they choose to spend chatting over dinner or a cup or coffee.
But you know what else they are? They are humans, and for humans life is not easy. Sometimes I can see them making choices that will take them down a path that is an unqualified obstacle course, and I want to yell, “Stop! That’s the wrong way!” But they’re looking forward not back, and I’m solidly behind them, so they can’t see me jumping up and down, waving my arms. I want to say, “Sweetie, you need to think about it for more than a few minutes before you act.” But they’re not listening to that either, because they have grown up in a generation that doesn’t even have to watch commercials. I want to put my arms around them and hold them tight like I did when they were little, pat their backs and say, “Don’t worry, Precious. It hurts now, but it’s going to get better.” I can’t do that either, because they are manly men like their father, and it just isn’t appropriate.
So, my beloved sons, what is left for me to offer as you each go through difficulties that I would spare you if I could? I can show you shortcuts to some lessons that I learned the hard way. But I must give that wisdom cautiously, and I hope that you will consider it only a tool in your toolbox. Because I too am only human, and sometimes I am the one who cannot see the whole picture from your perspective. Sometimes Mother does not know best.