“Just wait,” my mother told me. “One day, you’ll get it. You’ll understand.”

She was referring the love she has for her children. The love that makes her want to call us each day, offer advice (even if unsolicited) and causes her to worry about us when we travel. I always understood, in a way. I mean, we’re her children. Of course she loves us. I got it. At least, I thought I did.

~

The other night I was watching a story on the news about the shooting in Arizona. As the reporter finished her coverage of Gabby Giffords’ condition and moved on to the death of nine-year old Christina Green, I felt my breath catch in my chest and my eyes start to water. I have a hard time watching the news lately. I left the room, unable to listen any longer, and went into the kitchen to prepare dinner. As I stirred the contents of a pot on the stove, I stifled a sob; not wanting Michael to hear me in the other room because I knew if I started to speak I would lose it completely.

At that moment, Owen began to cry. He hadn’t been asleep long, so I went upstairs to soothe him back to sleep, taking the stairs two at a time. I scooped him out of his crib and he buried his head into my shoulder as I settled into the glider. He quieted quickly, but I continued to rock and rock. Longer than necessary. Not because he needed me, but because I needed him.

~

I wear my heart on the outside now, constantly in a position to have it shattered into a million pieces at any moment. Sometimes when I look at him, I actually hurt. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s true. The emotions I feel for this child translate into something physical, something that aches. I had heard about this: this love for a child. But I didn’t get it.

Now I do.

~

A lot of my friends are pregnant with their first babies right now and part of me is envious of them, because they will get to experience this feeling for the first time soon. It’s not the same as the love you feel when you’re pregnant with them. Not even the same the moment they are placed on your chest seconds after being born. This volcano of emotion that comes with being a mother is something that these words aren’t even close to accurately describing.

There is an invisible string tethering me to my child; one that cannot be broken because he is my son. My son, whose smile, whose babbling, whose laughter makes the sun shine, the birds sing, and every other sappy thing you can think of. I have never felt love like this before.

~

I have an amazing husband. One who makes others look bad — even the good ones — because as husbands go, he takes the cake. I love him with my heart and soul. And one day, there will be a woman who loves my son with the same intensity as I love his father.

But guess what? She will never love him like I do. And I hate to admit it, because as someone who has struggled to win approval from my mother-in-law, I always swore I would make it easy on my future daughter-in-law. And while I will be sweet and kind and hope that she will be like a daughter to me, she will still never be the one who loves him the most. Even though she will love him with everything she has, it will never be the most.

That will always be me.

Always.

~

Tomorrow Owen will be seven months old. Michael remarked today that once that happens, he’s closer to a year than to a newborn. That sentence made me cry. He’s still a baby, yes, but it’s fleeting. It’s flying by and one day years from now, he will be a man. I cherish these achingly wonderful days because even though love hurts, it hurts so good.

I get it now, Mom. I really, really get it.

Advertisements