Let me tell you, there isn’t enough time in any mother’s life to loose the extra eyes that develop when your first child is born. As a child grows, all of a mothers’ senses multiply, turn on red alert. You not only watch, you can physically feel the pain when the kid at school teases, repeating the clever put downs seen on “comedy” shows on TV. Those “funny” things really meant to hurt, that turns a bubbling child mute, sucking the enthusiasm from her soul.
A child will cry out in the First Grade, “I can sing. I can dance. Yes, I can do that.” The same child becomes one who is afraid to even try for fear of peer ridicule. Ask, “Who can sing? Who can dance?” again in the fifth grade and instead of many hands waving , there may be one or two brave ones who face the disdain of their classmates.
A mothers’ hearing becomes highly acute with the first teeth click you hear from your child’s precious rosebud lips. This, accompanied with rolling of the eyes, will begin to burn your soul. As they grow in wisdom and age, if not in grace, the look directed at you like a cold laser when you try to protect them from unchaperoned parties, hotels with drugs and alcohol on prom night and feckless friends with no curfew, shrinks your heart a little smaller.
When they lie about where they are going and tell their friends what a witch, no make that bitch, their mother is, an angina pain constricting your chest and choking your breath off nearly floors you. The Bible story of Mary’s reaction when her twelve year old son was lost for three days resonates through time. Christ was found preaching in the temple, apparently with not a thought to his parents anguish. This God-child figuratively tells His parents to mind their own business. The next line is, “…and Mary kept these things in her heart.” I will attest to you that there is very little room left for storage in a mother’s heart by the time a child reaches eighteen.
But still we watch. We watch as they are hurt, knowing that we cannot protect them from the world and its’ influences. This is the part that sears your heart. To be a good parent you must let them hurt and suffer and take the consequences of their own actions, and you experience every hurt and every suffering.
In their twenties, your children, they are still your children, begin to catalog all the grievous wrongs of their upbringing. They begin to treat you as if you are already a bit senile. They laugh over your head at inside jokes, thinking you don’t notice. You sit and listen, knowing that their lessons will be learned, some the hard way, but you still want to protect them.
You wish you could do it all again, make the corrections they would like. But mostly, you long for one more clamoring dinner with the faces of your vanished children around the table.
Then, like a miracle, they begin to bring home your grandchildren, and hope is carried in the door wrapped in a flannel blanket. Delight toddles around the living room. Your heart swells, restored. You see your children become loving parents and you remember joy and why you had children in the first place.