I don’t know how the love between a mother and her child goes wrong.
I know that it does, because I see it everywhere. Girls rolling their eyes at their mothers. Snapping between mother and son. Estrangement. Disappointment.
But I don’t know how it happens. Maybe it’s just life, and relationships, and similar to the way pipes get clogged over time? Even so, I can’t imagine it.
I marvel at my daughter. It’s not that she’s any smarter or more amazing than anyone else’s child. It has nothing to do with that. I can love her in her perfect ordinariness and be so enthralled with just that.
The way she squats down to read a book. (All kids do that.) The way she has to interrupt me reading to her to point out something, and she will not stop repeating it until I acknowledge her. I swear to God, ask my husband because I say this aloud all the time, but I think she looks so cute when she’s drinking from a straw. (I know. That’s super weird.)
Sometimes when I’m just observing her, I feel a future sadness at the way she’ll criticize herself. About how she may feel her body or whatever doesn’t measure up.
When you’re someone’s mom, you really get how ridiculous it is that we would ever judge someone else’s body. This child that came from you is so unbelievably perfect, even if he or she has things that are not perfect. The toes. The lanky arms. The little swell of a belly. All of it is precious.
V has a rashy bump situation on her thighs, arms and face. I had it too. I hated it about myself. I hope she never even notices it.
She has two birthmarks, one on her leg and one on her hand. I love them; I trace my thumb across them when we’re sitting together sometimes. It will break my heart if she doesn’t like them. Or if someone points them out and makes her feel insecure.
I wonder if anyone is ever loved as deeply and constantly in their lives, apart from their parents’ love. It is a love that asks nothing in return, one that appreciates even the things that aren’t special in the slightest…it can be, a lot of days, a thankless love.
What’s even weirder is that a child cannot feel the depth of that love. I never could comprehend the way my mother felt about me, or all of the ways I broke her heart, until I had my own child. When my mom said, “You are just so beautiful,” I always rolled my eyes. Now I know exactly how it feels, to love someone just for existing, to see nothing but perfection in them. And the thought that V will never be able to comprehend how I feel about her is a little sad.
When lovers say to each other, “You make me so happy,” it is because they are getting something in return. Hormones, infatuation, adrenaline. But when a parent says, “You make me so happy,” he or she is just happy the child exists. The child could be a mega-brat. The child could disappear at age eighteen and never call or write. (Omg my heart would be broken if V did that. And I would still love her.)
By the way, when people talked like this before I became a parent, I thought there was something wrong with them. A love that pure, never asking to be reciprocated, just seemed almost gross to me. Now, of course, I see it all too clearly.
But I never walk around hoping she’ll pay me back, or live with me forever. My heart just longs for more days, and time to go slower, so that I can give her as much of this love as she’ll let me.