Editor’s Note: The Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religious preferences. Our Spiritual Sundays section is a place where our authors can write about thoughts that are more spiritual in nature, and our goal is to gather a wide variety of perspectives. If you (or someone you know) has something to add to this section to help us reach a wider audience of mothers, please send the submission to [email protected] Thank you!
I could only assume I would love my children. When I pictured a mother’s love, I saw myself sitting comfortably in a quiet nursery, bathed in afternoon sunlight, holding a perfect baby in my arms. We were staring at each other with reciprocal, worshipful adoration.
Now that I am a mother, I do have moments of heart-stopping infatuation–a conviction that nothing in the world could ever be more beautiful or make me feel so much joy. But I also realize that a mother’s love contains a lot of complex emotions, and not all of them are pleasant.
The anger of watching your child’s first rejection on the playground and the hurt of seeing them try and fail. That, too, is love.
The lonely ache of dropping off your boy at preschool for the first time. The feeling in your heart as you pack up and give away the baby girl clothes you won’t need anymore. That ache is love.
The tedium of a thousand tasks repeated day after day and the weary submission to a thousand more you’ll never get to. Both are born of love.
The moments of guilt and the feelings of inadequacy. The questions that plague you: “Am I doing enough? Am I doing this right?” All of those worries are love.
The desolation of losing a pregnancy and knowing that with it you’ve lost the chance to experience joy and pain with another child. That heartbreak, too, is love.
And then there’s the fear. You fear that all the glistening, golden threads that bind you to your babies are as fragile as a spider’s web that might be brushed aside at any moment, and you could lose everything. Even that fear is love.
When I found out my second pregnancy was twins, for a split second I was excited. I had breezed through my first pregnancy, and at 6’3” I was sure I’d have plenty of space for them to grow. I was determined to carry them full term and bring them into the world as well and as whole as any two singletons. “This should be fun!” I thought, until the doctor started explaining how high-risk this pregnancy would be.
It wasn’t fun. To say I had a difficult pregnancy is to grossly understate the matter.
In a letter I wrote to my preterm babies the day before they came home from the hospital, I explained my emotions:
My Dear Little Boys,
Tomorrow you will come home from the hospital and change our lives forever.
From the moment I found out you were coming to our family at the same time, I have been so worried for you. I have wept and prayed so much for your safety. Since 18 weeks into the pregnancy, when my body started the process of kicking you out early, I have begged the Lord for a miracle. I researched and tried to implement everything I could that might give you a chance to enter the world well and whole.
For a while there, I was hopeful and even confident that we could make it. But, I was devastated to find out last week that after contracting for 17.5 weeks, my body had passed the point of no return. You were coming now and would spend your first days hooked up to machines that would try to do for you what my body should have done.
I felt I had failed you. I sobbed on the way to the hospital, and I sobbed when I first saw you in the NICU. I said in my heart as Job did, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me; and that which I was afraid of has come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest; neither was I quiet, yet trouble came.”
From the beginning of these complications, you’ve had an asterisk attached to you in my mind. There seemed to be so many obstacles to getting you into the world that I tried to think of you as hypothetical, so as to not become too emotionally attached in case something went wrong. But, from the moment you were well enough to hold in my arms, the asterisk disappeared, and you became, for the first time, truly mine. You are my sons, my little guys.
Of course I am a nervous for how things will go when you come home tomorrow–especially for the first year of twinfancy and for the havoc you may wreak as toddlers. And naturally, I am still more than concerned for your health and safety. Yet, my heart is light and full of joy and anticipation. The fear is not gone, but I recognize and accept it for what it has actually always been: a form of love.
I love you, my little guys. I thank the Lord for you, my little darlings. Welcome home.
QUESTION: What emotions are part of your love for your children?
CHALLENGE: Write a letter to your children that explains and preserves the love you feel for them right now.
Images provided by Heather Craw.