After the events of last week, the basic principles of life and family have been on my mind a lot. I’ve written a lot about parenting over the last six hundred and sixty blog posts, but one of the things that sticks with me is the fundamental changes in the brain of a parent when you have children. There’s something about being the alpha and omega for your child, the one who feeds, clothes, bathes, loves, and protects them that alters your very core self. This applies to biological and adoptive parents alike. With such enormous responsibility and invested love comes a sacrifice of self. It has been wonderful and amazing to see my wife transform as we’ve had our two kids. I always knew she would be a great mother. Early in our relationship we bought a small rabbit as a pet and when we brought her home, she was scared and soiled her feet. My wife washed her off, speaking gently and reassuring her, practicing her innate mothering skills. Now ten years later she has put those mothering skills to great use, caring for two children and sharing in their joy, sorrow, and laughter.
How do you repay or value this sacrifice? I’ve always been frustrated with Mother’s Day because it tries to concentrate all the thanks, hugs, and admiration into one day. It isn’t enough, and whatever you do isn’t enough. The mothers in my life, from our friend who shepherded together three children after the accident last week, to my wife, to my own mother, have given up so much of themselves so their children can blossom from healthy and fertile ground, deserve so much more than a card and some gifts. I try to say “thank you” and “I love you” all year so whatever shortcomings on Mother’s Day can be taken in aggregate with twelve months of heartfelt appreciation.
I’ve learned that the most dangerous and beautiful and fearsome creature on earth is a mother protecting its young—you never hear about the dangers of getting between a father bear and its cubs. I’ve learned that the most beautiful and vibrant women are often holding the hands of little ones half their size. I’ve learned that strength is being able to hold a child in one hand and bags of groceries in the other while talking on the phone and unlocking a car. I’ve learned that patience is a mother whose child wants to do gymnastics while nursing. And I’ve learned that a mother’s love is one of the fundamental forces of the universe—brilliant and unstoppable.