I love my kids. I love them from the moment I first find out that I am pregnant. I love them the second they are placed in my arms after birth. From the instant they enter my life, they are loved by me.
But there is a moment – one distinct moment that I have experienced with both of my sons. Usually a week or three after birth, it is in this moment that I know I have bonded with them. It is usually in a moment of utter exhaustion, after a long day of mothering, when I find myself sitting, rocking, cradling and nursing. My arms surround this child that I was given, that I nurture, that I provide for, that I mother. My eyes drink in that little sweet-smelling head, those little hands caressing my breast, those little eyes closing in contentment, and my love becomes so real, so tangible, so powerful that my heart breaks.
And there I sit, in my bed with a newborn in my arms, as tears stream down my face. I know, in that moment, that this child is my child. No one, ever, will love this child like I do. And I know that if ever this precious little child is taken away from me, my world will shatter.
There is something about the fragility of life that makes love unbelievably crushing. As I stare at my new son, my heart breaks over and over. It breaks for him as I think about all of the struggles life will throw his way. It breaks for me as I recognize that each moment with him is one I will never get back. And it breaks at the knowledge that I can never hold on to him as tightly as I would like – not to a specific phase, not to who he is at any given moment, not to life itself. Life is unpredictable. Life is short. Life can be taken away in a breath.
Soon I will again realize that this is what makes life special and exciting and beautiful. But in this moment, I allow myself to grieve. I allow my fear to grip me. I allow my heart to break.
I allow the tears.
I sit and I hold him tight. Protecting as much as I can. Praying and wishing for what I can’t protect.
My prayer from this point forward is for everyone to see my sons as I see them.
But I know they won’t. And so my heart breaks again.
This is what it looks like when my heart expands. This is what my love looks like.
Photo taken back on May 21st, when Gavin was 3 weeks old