Sunday, October 31, 2010


I know a lot of good women, many of them are mothers. I suppose motherhood does something to you. It makes you grow up (though it doesn’t force you to do so; you’re always free to abdicate responsibility). It makes you grow as much as the young one for whom you’re caring.

Isn’t it interesting with that vague and oft ill-defined word love?
I mean you learn to love your family.
You fall in love with a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. (this is a different meaning of the word love)
But we seem to love our children instantly.

Even if you take a very high meaning of the word love and do not include emotions (or the emotional thing we call love) but consecrate its use for a chosen priority, a deep commitment, a conscious choosing, a bestowed gift, people seem to do this instantly with their children. They just . . . . Love them. And in the early years its easier to love them. When they get older it’s harder to tell if you’re loving your image for them, your desires for them, or if you’re truly loving them which may require letting go some of your dreams for them and seeking their joy in everything.

But why is that?
People love their families on the condition that they were treated well by them. They love their romantic partner on the condition that it is requited or that they are treated well by the partner (not always so). But with a child? No matter how much the child screams, no matter how self-focused the child is, no matter wrong the child does (if it’s possible to do wrong at that age), we love them.

And if you believe in God, you wonder if that’s how God feels. At least I wonder. I wonder if there is that same ability to forgive but magnified because I’m his child. I wonder.

I bet it’s one of the lessons we learn from our mothers, how to love (unconditionally by definition). Fathers are definitely important to the development of both sons and daughters but mothers provide that space, that safe place, that hearth, that security even in disability; they’re quite amazing. And growing up without one is hard. It’s not required but I bet there are subconscious things you learn from having a mother that you miss and must learn elsewhere without one.

My friends Robyn and Nhi are great mothers. Beautiful women judging by the attention they got in high school, great wives, and true mothers. It doesn’t mean they are always at their best; it doesn’t mean they’re relationships with their husbands have always been perfect or even great, but they’ve done what they had to do to provide, to care, to nurture, and to mother. I like that. I wonder what their children receive or know of that. I wonder why some animals release their young in the world after a few years and Nhi and Robyn, as humans, will take 18 years of motherly care before allowing their children to go off, most probably to college. Why does it take so long with the most advanced of human beings?

I don’t know. But I think it underscores the importance of a mother due to such a long period of care over the non-adult human. Eighteen years. I hope daughters learn how to be mothers by watching their mothers. But I hope we all learn what unconditional love is by watching them, so much so that one day we won‘t need to say unconditional in front of the word “love“ because that is all we‘ll ever mean.

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