Recently I spotted a young couple walking down the street, side by side, not touching but together. The young woman was wearing a baby carrier strapped to her chest, with a very small package inside. Obviously a fairly new baby, mum wasn’t that old either.
As they passed me, the woman looked at me and smiled — a smile that was both proud and shy — and I smiled back. Her smile struck a chord within, it was the smile of one mother to another. A recognition if you like of motherhood, that special club where, once you’ve joined, you can never leave.
Immediately I was transported forty years back in time, to when I had my first child. The feelings flooded back to me. The pride that you’ve managed to somehow produce a miracle, a special little being that is uniquely yours. A feeling that is so very hard to describe to someone who has never been there.
It got me thinking about how protective mothers are with their babies, and caring, nurturing. That they stay that way even when those babies grow up.
Just because my son is forty years old, doesn’t mean that I stop feeling protective and caring. Sure, I want to save him from heartache and disappointment just like I did when he was a tiny baby. You start off making all the decisions for them, and after time, they begin to gradually make their own. You guide them, but ultimately they will do their own thing, including making mistakes that you cannot stop. Life’s learnings.
You watch them, and you hurt with them — often silently as they find their way in life, and you wish you could keep them safe forever. But part of that nurturing is letting go, and allowing them to make mistakes so they can learn from them. Of course as they are growing up, they will still look to you for love, support and confirmation, but generally they do life without you. You, as a mother become relegated to the background, although still an important part of their lives, just not so obviously now. Your pride can then come from how they handle their independence.
But you still worry about them as they go off with friends, or get a driving license and drive away to do their own things. All you can do is hope that they will remember what you have taught them, that they will exercise common sense and that they won’t get hurt or worse — killed.
Then there can be the other side, where they get really clever at hiding their true feelings, and managing to lull you into that false sense of security that has you thinking that you’ve done okay. Maybe you don’t even get to think that because all seems to be functioning quite well. Their lives have become busier with their own friends, a job even and you are no longer vital to their wellbeing.
I have memories of waking up that first morning after Kelly died, and thinking ‘That was my baby! I carried her inside me for those months, before finally getting to meet her.’ And in a moment, twenty years of nurturing and caring were gone.
But I still have the memories that will live on forever in my heart. There are those that I shared with others, and there are the special ones that only I can know.
And I smile my mothers smile…..