To be a mother is to hold a world in your womb.
It is to hold separateness even in radical togetherness (I knew from the moment that Sophie was born that she was never mine, even when she was elbowing out my organs as she grew inside of me).
It is to love someone absolutely in spite of, because of, entirely apart of anything they can do. A mother does not give her love like a gift or a loan; it is as like the sun is, which can't stop itself from burning.
But it can be practiced. The practicing is the hard part. There are sacrifices that come naturally and sacrifices that require work. Like cutting out TV this week, which means dealing with much more screaming. Like giving my presence to toddler games when I would much rather be reading a book. Like attempting discipline when I would rather give in for my own peace.
This practicing love spills into our love for others. But so does the unthinking love, the love that comes easily. When I think of others, the unthinking love shocks me. It tells me that any and every person may be infinitely important to the woman on this earth who bore them, nursed them, brought them into life and then taught them how to live. How would I see them if that woman was me?
Motherly love: the feeling of holding another's vulnerability as if they were a child. In holding that vulnerability, recognition: the gift of seeing a person as they were born to be, and not as they currently are.