Updated: Apr 6, 2022
We aren't taking Sophie (to Costa Rica).
She is almost two years old, but it still feels like abandonment. When I booked the flights, I allowed myself a few quick sobs, as if that was something I do (I don't). I immediately recorded a voice message for my best friend, trying to explain it. A physical pain, I said. That's what it feels like: the bond between a mother and a small child. How does the bond lessen over time?
Someday, she will start preschool, then kindergarten. She will go to music camp, maybe. Math camp (what kinds of camps do kids go to nowadays?). She will make new friends, and I will love every child who loves her, who treats her with respect.
Thus she slowly becomes a separate entity, with her wildly separate human dreams.
I won't resist this, because it will happen slowly, and because she has never belonged to me to begin with. But who will hold her when I cannot? Who will care for her, protect her? I imagine her moving through a world of people who will never know how important she is, how precious. It's strange to imagine all people as branches estranged from their mother-roots, while mothers hope and pray for the entire world to cradle them gently. To be kind, if nothing else, in spite of their weaknesses.
Motherly love is characterized by tender protection. This is a unique branch of love, one which grows in parenthood and is meant to nourish every human relationship. When I see my brothers like this, I truly see them. I see their struggles and their strengths, and I listen. Loving listening sometimes heals them. When I see my husband like this, I no longer flinch to see his weaknesses (like I often flinch to see mine). I can help him improve without fearing the need for improvement. Only when humans are wholly accepted can the process of perfection begin to take root, can give space for improvement. This is a hard paradox, one I sense without yet fully enacting it into truth.