Is there anything my child can say, anything my child can do, any event that can occur that would lead me to surrender my mommy badge? And, likewise, can any other mother ever truly give up that badge?
Recent events left me thinking. Could I ever not be a mommy? My answer was simply, no because my heart can never go back.
I have three babies in my house right now and more to come, so I never expect to give up the role of mommy.
How did I earn the mommy label?
Because my body bears the marks of pregnancy and childbirth until my dying day?
From becoming my child’s sole source of care and nutrition?
Perhaps because I changed their diapers, cleaned them, and fed them?
Honestly, I don’t think any of those are why I can’t give up mommyhood.
Instead, I believe it is a change in my heart.
Becoming a mother is not a result of simple biology, timing, and meeting physical needs. Instead, motherhood is about a selfless connection between two people.
When I was a child, love was kisses on a boo-boo, giggling with friends on a playground, or hugs on a holiday. When I met my husband, love was romantic and affectionate and adventurous.
My love for friends, family, coworkers, and even my spouse were all I knew of the many facets of love until I had children. Those kinds of love all expected something in return.
When I had my first child, love opened up in my heart like the light shining on a dark part of a stage—a part of the story you never realized was missing.
Having now had the privilege to become a mommy three times, I can honestly say each child has grown my heart in a new and different way. And, the love I feel has only grown and maybe even multiplied with each child.
I do not love my child simply because he is my child or because he is a child. I love the specific features, unique traits, and individuality of my child.
My love is not exchangeable for another child. My love for child one is a unique piece of my heart that cannot be replaced by a new child.
Each new chamber of my heart grown by becoming a mother, like a limb, would be a painful amputation if severed. The loss of that love would be noticeable and excruciating.
When I found love for my children, I found completely selfless love.
Love for my babies is far different than the love I have for others. I love my parents because they raised, protected, and loved me. I love my friends because they provide camaraderie and support. And, I love my husband because he loves me back and provides in a way no one else can.
My love for my children, however, has never expected anything in return.
When our children cry at us, scream at us, kick at us, or even puke on us in the middle of the night, we don’t give up on the love relationship.
We never go into a mother-newborn relationship expecting the baby to bring anything to the table.
Even into the teen years when they stink, say dumb things, and even rebel, moms don’t have the option of giving up that unique part of their heart.
Even if your child walks away from you completely. Even if you walk away from your child completely. Though the scars and pain of childbearing might fade, your heart will never be the same.
Your heart doesn’t shrink back to its former size and shape.
That love, that appendage of your heart that grew the moment that child was born or even conceived, it’s still there. Throbbing.
My heart breaks for mothers out there who have felt that kind of separation and know the pain of losing a child in any way.
Because my heart has changed so much since becoming a mommy, I know that I will never not be a mommy.
Because of that, I am all the more grateful for the choice of my future child’s birth mother. Thankful that a mother chose selflessly to bear, rear, and surrender a life from which she never expected anything in return.
I mourn with the mother of a miscarriage who knew the form and weight of her child and never had the opportunity to share that beautiful life with friends and family. Because of that reason, I weep with the mothers who lay their children to rest far too early and the mothers who place their children by choice.
I know your heart is indelibly imprinted with the unique marks of your child. And for those mothers who chose to place their children for adoption, there is another mother out there whose heart grew in exactly the same shape. She loves the creative, unique, and special individual characteristics and traits of the same child.
As a mother, you can never lose that part of your heart. We are forever branded by the shape of our hearts.
I believe that only one other entity can share that unique heart shape. Only one other being carries the exact same marks of the love for my child as I have.
Someday, I hope to greet Him and compare the shape of our hearts.