Truth is, I’ve been mothering now for about 18 years. In the womb, or out, as soon as new life is fresh knit together, we become mothers. Mothering for the past 18 years, yes. But this past decade just traveled has taught something new.
We mother our sons, you see, as they bold-faced take on this world. Chaos reigning, voices loud, chests puffed out. Tenderness too, but fleeting, as adventure beckons at every turn. To mother sons is to fuel them—their bodies first, as those never stop—then their hearts, their souls which sometimes seem almost untouchable, unreachable but we know . . . oh, do we mothers know, how they’re not.
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Sons are magic in their keen way of knowing when a lid needs spun open, or a gas tank needs filling when the wind blows so bitter, or when a laugh is needed to replace a mother’s weary brow.
To mother a son is to mother the one who will one day be your protector.
Who will stand in the face of anyone or anything who threatens safety, or happiness, or otherwise. We muster this boy-necessary energy up over and over because it is worth it. This is worth it. They are worth it.
Daughters are different as I learned the very moment they passed her tenderly to me. The world outside was harsh and white, but inside that small room, grace was born and all went still. And say I’m wrong, and say it shouldn’t be so, and say no, no they should be the same, feel the same, act the same, be treated the same. My heart told me different that first day, still tells me different every single day since.
In mothering our daughters, we dance a delicate dance. One of questions to and fro, feeling foreign in this journey we thought we knew so well. The questions to—we are oh so familiar with . . . Did you sleep well, baby? Do you need a drink? How are you feeling? Those questions we have mastered in our journeys as moms and seem to tumble off our tongues as effortlessly as the loving thoughts that put them there in the first place. But the questions fro—these are the ones that make our breath catch in our throats, if only for a moment, as the unfamiliarity gives way once more to the knowing.
The knowing that this is mothering now. A sacred space where there is suddenly room for the questions fro . . . How did YOU sleep, Mom? Do you want a tea, Mom? Is your headache gone, Mom?
And the years, they go, and as they do the questions to and fro develop into their own natural rhythm. One that creates, day by day, this dance that only mothers and daughters share.
It dawned on me as of late, that this dance, this very dance, is the one that blooms all on its own as we mothers, learn to mother future hopeful mothers.
Young daughters who are watching, looking, waiting to nurture another. Young daughters who sense needs before needs are seen. Young daughters who splay open their own hearts in the hopes of knitting another hurting heart closed.
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They practice on kittens, and baby dolls, and stuffed animals tattered. They practice on new puppies, and insects, and a baby bird’s egg shattered. They practice loving, they practice caring, they practice giving until they are wrung right out. They practice . . . on us.
Sons are a gift of their own spectacular variety. One I would never trade for a million miles of the rarest gems. To the mothers of only sons, feel blessed, because you are. Oh, how you are.
The gift, however, in this past 10 years of learning this new form of mothering—nurturing the heart of the very one who nurtures you right back and then some. That . . . that there is a sweetness no one can quite scribe. Perhaps, it’s a gracious gift so intricate, one shouldn’t even try.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page