Because That’s What Mothers Do

Because That’s What Mothers Do

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Baby,

When you were born, you tore through me with such force I thought I might die. But no matter, the pain was easily eclipsed by a swell of love I had never felt before.

I was infatuated.

I spent every second analyzing your tiny features. Your eyebrows and your nose, your tiny bow shaped lips, your fuzzy ears. I took stock of fingers and toes and marveled at your perfect purity.

In the past two years, I’ve played more dinkies and blocks than I ever did in my own childhood. I’ve learned the name of every truck and tractor. I collect rocks and dig holes in the dirt; I build forts and have races. I suddenly take interest in what interests you.

Because that’s what mothers do.

And when you ask if you can play soccer, I will say yes, and I will watch with pride from the sidelines. If you score on your own net, I’ll take you out for ice cream and we’ll talk about life and how things don’t always go our way. I love you, and I’ll remind you over and over again how proud you make me.

Just know I will cry at every single school concert from Kindergarten until grade 12. Even when you’re dressed like a snowflake among 600 other snowflakes, you will glisten brighter than all the rest to me, and I will cry. Sometimes it will be big, embarrassing tears. Other times, it will be a single quiet tear.

And when that kid is mean to you at recess, and you come home upset, I will swallow the lump in my throat and coach you through it. The next day, when I’m supposed to be teaching a class, or meeting a parent, or taking care of your brother, I will only be thinking of you. ALL DAY, I will gnaw my finger nails down to nubs and refrain from driving to your school to see how you are doing. When I see you get off the bus, I’ll thrust the front door open and stammer, “How did it go?”

Because that’s what mothers do.

When you’re in high school and you spill through that same front door after coming home drunk from a school dance, I will slam the door behind you. I will be so disappointed, but also relieved you’re home with me. I’ll peel off your boots and guide you to bed. I’ll make sure you’re on your side and leave a bucket by your head. I might even rub your hair.

The next morning, I’ll rip your curtains open at 5 am. I’ll tear your sheets off you and fire you into the tub for a cold shower. You’ll be forced to hydrate, but I’ll be damned if I offer you a painkiller. You’ll be sentenced to an arduous task…like scraping the deck. Yes, you’ll scrape the deck. And when the sun is setting and your hands are starting to blister, I’ll let you inside.

The next morning, I’ll wake you up again so you can repaint the deck.

I’ll let you go to the next school dance, but I’ll drop you off at the door and escort you in if I have to. I’ll arrive a half hour early to pick you up, and shine my high beams when I see you walk out. And you better be walking straight.

I will do all this with such authority on the outside, but on the inside, I’ll be questioning if I did the right thing.

Because that’s what mothers do.

The time will come when you’ll want to leave home. Maybe it’ll be when you go to university, or perhaps your first big adventure to some exotic corner of the world. Just know I will hug you too tight and for too long. As you try to pull away, I’ll feel a tear not unlike the first day you were born—full of pain and swollen love.

And I will eventually let you go.

Because that’s what mothers do.

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