This Mother’s Heart

I used to check his breathing while he slept. Newborns have this knack for seeming like they’ve stopped breathing but they’re really just taking shallow breaths. It freaked me out every time. Sometimes I would prod him and hold my breath until he moved out of irritation.

I still check on him occasionally. I wake up in the middle of the night and make sure his belly is rising and falling with his breaths.

I developed a fear of driving. I foresaw a collision of twisted metal every time a another vehicle got near my car.  All I knew is that I had my heart seated behind me in a rearfacing carseat. It didn’t matter how much my friend, the Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, reassured me that the carseat was crash-resistant.

One of my mandates of motherhood was “Protect.”

It’s why I paid attention to the way I ate while I was pregnant.

It’s why I educated myself on birth matters.

It’s why I chose not to circumcise.

It’s why I choose to breastfeed.

It’s why I choose to parent the way I do.

It’s probably why most of us choose to parent the way we do.

But then we realize that no matter what we do, we can’t always protect them.

It’s why they say that motherhood is like having your heart walk around outside of your chest.

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Posted on August 22, 2010, in General mommyness, Mother instinct, New mommyhood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This is a moving and wonderful post.

    For some reason what is foremost in my mind when I read here is just how many people are so not-compassionate when something happens to a child. The mainstream media exploits the tragedy or misfortune and so many weigh in to blame the parents (usually the mother) for what happened. I don’t understand such hard-heartedness when really, is it so hard to fathom how much we suffer when our children suffer?

    As a parent I’ve become more interested in the outside world, in social justice for all, in compassion. I’ve become smarter but softer-hearted. I truly have my children to thank for that. I’m not saying children are necessary for this path, but for me, mine have been.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. This post really hit home for me! you really captured the heartache of mothers everywhere. My daughter is just 1 and I want to wrap her in cotton balls so she never suffers, but I know that’s not realistic. I wonder if this anguish subsides as they get older

  3. I remember the first time I read that quote about having your heart walk around outside of your chest – Kieran must have been a newborn, because I just sat there (nursing him) and sobbed and sobbed. How true! I never knew how much I could care for another human being. Never. All those times my mother said “you will never know how much I love you” – I understand now, mom!!
    (I’m getting all weepy just thinking about it!)

  4. I went through something similar with Baby E. Suddenly I understood my mother better than I ever had before.

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