Monday, March 28, 2011

A Mother's Love

Before I had children I often heard it said that a woman will never love another person as much as she loves her children - that a mother's love is different from any other love. Friends tried to describe it. Family members tried to describe it. Even my own mother tried to describe it. Based on their accounts, I thought I knew. I thought I was ready for it.
Nothing fully prepares you for the awakening of the love that lies dormant in the depths of your heart until the moment you hold your first-born child. Nothing fully prepares you for the realization that you created this life, that somehow your body has the ability to put fingers and toes and eyes in all the right places. Nothing fully prepares you for the fear that you are fully responsible for this tiny person; that she will rely on you for everything; that you will be the first person she trusts, the first person she loves. Nothing fully prepares you for how easily you would go to the ends of the earth or lay down your life to protect her from harm. Nothing fully prepares you for the sense of peace you feel knowing that someday you will die, but your essence will live on in her and her children and their children. And nothing fully prepares you for the happiness you feel every time you say "my daughter" or for the pride you feel in every one of her triumphs from tying shoes to college degrees.
I love my mother. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my husband. But the world needs to come up with a whole new word for what I feel for my daughter. It is something you can never fully understand until you know it first-hand. And once you know it you can never fully explain it. That's because the words don't exist to describe the place in your heart where "a mother's love" lies.


  1. In so many languages there are different words for love, for the love an other, your other, for the love of oneself, the love of blueberries, love of a deity, or even a mother's love. For example, in Greek, there's "agape," "eros," "philia," "xenia," and "storge," which roughly translates to a natural affection: a parent's love.

    I don't know why, our language, in all its abundance, is still lacking love's differentiations.

    I always found everything that language lacks terribly interesting. Pain, for example can only be described through metaphor. Love is the same way. We rely on clichés and poetry to describe something so terribly specific, so immensely profound. Language is slippery, full of holes and gradations. I think this is where the desire to write comes from: the inability to completely, and utterly, express oneself perfectly, to describe ourselves in such a way that leaves no room for interpretation. But, language is a tool that relies on translation and empathy. Each word we communicate to an other must be deciphered and related before it is understood. And sometimes, like your love for your daughter, no words could prepare you for the experience.

    [Personal P.S. I haven't forgotten our email exchange, I've just been up to my eyeballs in my projects. Soon, totally soon, I shall have something for you in your inbox.] Cheers!

  2. So well expressed. So beautiful. It's so true -- you don't love anyone here on Earth like you love your kids. It's surreal.