I don’t remember wanting children when I was growing up, and as a young adult my lot in life was to cause babies to cry just by my holding them. When I hosted get togethers I would think to myself, for’ God’s sake people, have you never heard of a babysitter?’. Then at 25 years old I remarried, and a year later, (yes, you guessed it) I was pregnant.
I remember bringing this little baby home and thinking, what the hell do I do now? This is it? Just begin feeding, and changing diapers, and take its picture in different outfits while he lays there? I had heard from friends that when you give birth you “automatically” have loving, protective mother feelings. Wasn’t happening.
Don’t get me wrong, I was going to give that child the best care possible, but I was pretty certain something was wrong with me; that I was missing the “mother” gene all other women were born with.
About a week later, I was feeding him, and rocking in the chair, and I looked down at his face. Then it happened. I felt the earth drop out from under me, and my insides totally liquefy and become something completely different. My heart cracked like shattered glass and expanded to an infinite capability to love. I swore to everyone’s gods that anyone attempting to hurt my baby boy would be torn to pieces, or I’d die trying. And I was pretty damn sure I would be victorious.
That is the first time he broke my heart.
Five years later he spoke to me in a restaurant bathroom stall, about the monsters at his child care, and that they’d been warned not to tell anyone of the hurting or they would hurt their parents. I asked how he was brave enough to tell me, and he said “you’re like Superman Momma, you can stop them and no one can hurt you”. So I shut them down.
That was the second time he broke my heart, and it grew larger.
As he got older, I realized that he was the best of both of us, with the miracle of him thrown in. I knew if I never offered another thing into the world, I’d done something wonderful just by being his mother. People would compliment us on raising such an awesome individual and I’d tell them it was all him just shining through; I was merely the keeper of the flame. They thought I was kidding.
He joined the USMC and finished out his senior year at high school. He wanted to do his ‘duty’ and protect our country and make a difference in the world. His motives were pure, his heart was true north, so he left home to begin his adult life.
That was the third time he broke my heart, and for a while I felt like it had shriveled to the size of a pea. But it grew bigger to hold the pain that only a mother knows at a time like this.
He came home five years later, and the world had changed him. The reality of life had broken down his way of thinking, and he had built a new perception, questioning everything, finding his own way, working his way through. I was overwhelmed with pride at the man he chose to be.
That was the fourth time my heart was broken, and I mourned the loss of his childhood while my heart grew even bigger to accommodate my love for the man he’d become.
Then he married the girl he’d dated all through high school, and I loved her like a daughter, and I celebrated their happiness, and I helped them move and rejoiced for their independence.
That was the last time he broke my heart. I celebrated the awesomeness of the man; at the same time mourning the loss of the child who thought I was like Superman, so my heart grew bigger to hold both.
I’m pretty sure that someday soon, he’ll break my heart again. He’ll give “Glammaw” a little grand baby, and I’ll look at that tiny face, and my heart will burst wide open. He’ll hold his son or daughter to his chest and he’ll look at me and finally…oh God finally…he’ll understand.
And our hearts will break together.