When I Look At My Mother:
Describing motherhood’s transition to grandmotherhood quickly brings my mom to tears.
“It’s just… it’s an entirely different experience, Colin.” She says, as we drive to my sister’s house to visit my nephew – also her darling grandchild. Then, she breaks. “I just love you all so much. And when I look at him, I just feel like he’s still so untouched by the troubles of the world. He’s still so protected and safe. I remember when it was that way for you, and then I blinked.”
She continues, sharing the limitless joys and endless fears of being a mother and being a grandmother. Of watching your children endure life’s hardships, stumble through crises, wear life-long bruises and experience immense tragedy. As a mother and now grandmother, she tells me, she wishes she could hold it all for us.
What she fails to realize is she already does.
This woman, so fascinatingly infinite in the love she has to give, would feel every negative feeling in our lives so we didn’t have to. She longs to intercept every bullet of life because mother’s skin is kevlar; she’ll still feel the sting, but it will never break her. Nothing will. She is boundless, the unshakable foundation from which family trees are grown. We are everything we are through her wisdom, power, and humility. We are her; she’s given herself forever so we can always be her.
When I Look At My Sister:
Enjoying warming sunlight from a blanket on the lawn, I mindlessly pluck grass from the earth as I watch my sister watch her son. My heart stirs.
“He could do anything and, to me, it’s the most amazing thing in the world” she says, after lovingly praising his calm demeanor despite the wind. “I literally have never experienced any feeling like how I feel about him. As soon as you have your own, you’ll understand too. It’s hard to describe otherwise, isn’t it Mom?”
Grandma nods knowingly, and the two share in a transgenerational understanding unknown to the rest of us. Filled with the sacrifices our mother made for us, my sister dives selflessly into the depths of motherhood, enduring any challenges through the sheer willpower of love for another defeating all else. She watches him tenderly, engages him openly, and gives of herself freely. Now a mother herself, she tells me, she wants to give her boy the mother she has.
What she fails to realize is she already did.
This woman, so fascinatingly in tune to the needs of her child, would (and does) bear the heaviest burdens so he doesn’t have to. She longs to extend every opportunity imaginable to make his life as successful and fulfilling as it can be, providing the building blocks for a path to self-discovery only formed by true acceptance. Constructing this path is taxing manual labor; the cracks in her hands sting, but will not stop her working tirelessly. Nothing will. She is resilience, the energizing force nesting a home where a family can grow roots and thrive. He will be everything he is through her strength, empathy, and passion. He will always be her; she gives herself entirely so he can always be her.