Why do mothers love their children? Do they love them as extensions of themselves? As their own ‘creations’ …? As living expressions of the love that conceived them? Or …? None of these explanations satisfy me.
A mother’s love goes beyond: pregnancy and gestation embody – symbolize even – a mother’s love. During pregnancy a woman becomes a vessel for her growing and developing child. Her body expands and shifts to accommodate the growing life inside her, until such time as this being wants to emerge. And then the cervix (neck of the uterus) dilates from the size of a cheerio to the size of a bagel to accommodate crowning and passage of the baby’s head; a newborn head typically measures 14 inches around.
During motherhood a woman gives – of herself, of her time, of her heart. The best mothers make it all about their children, not about themselves. They know their task involves raising healthy functional human beings. They know this means resisting any urges to foster dependency, to manipulate and control, to regard their children as entities that exist solely to meet their needs. They know this may mean sacrificing – time, opportunity, material goods. And still they do it. Not for glory. Not for reciprocation. For love.
The most difficult thing about motherhood? Well, success means our children will fly away from the nest and have the ability to function on their own. In many cases it means affording our children opportunities we ourselves never had. In many cases it means seeing to it that our children have a superior standard of living – in every way – than we did. Without jealousy, envy, without blocking their path. Without expectation. That sounds bittersweet. And yet, that seems like the purest form of love.
Motherhood feels like having your heart walking around outside your body.
How many mothers can really love their children in this way?