I always wondered what it is about motherhood that really hurts. Like someone’s pulling the insides of your heart together. The sucking in of your stomach when you say those awws. The stopping of your breath when you get the world’s biggest hug from your child after a long day at work. The nostalgia that swamps you when you look back at his baby videos. The sighs you heave unconsciously when you stumble upon that tiny onesie he could once fit in, the one you now bury your face in to see if it still has the same baby smell. The copious amounts of love that motherhood fills you with, is what hurts. Because that love is so much that for a moment your body feels it can’t hold it and it will break, until it expands and holds more. Every single time. The love that you think is unmanageable. What do you do with so much of it? How were you ever able to love someone this much? How will you ever be able to love someone else like this again?
One afternoon, my soon to be 4 year old was playing at the swings in our neighborhood park. Running around carefree, oozing life, not thinking that life could be any different the next moment. The next moment didn’t exist. All of a sudden he got pushed by another child older to him, who didn’t know him. A sensitive one, my kid immediately stopped short in his tracks. Why was he pushed – he had a look on his face as he stood on the slide, motionless.
‘What happened?’ I asked, even though I had seen everything.
‘That boy hit me,’ he said, pulling a long face. The boy got off the swings, went to his mother who had been looking away all this while, complained to her that MY son pushed him, and got along with his business!
‘That’s okay, sweetie, I will talk to his mom’, I said, thinking he would get back to playing and I wouldn’t actually have to do what I promised him. A few minutes later: ‘Mama, can you please talk to his mom now?’ I couldn’t say no this time. He was looking up to me to support him. To stand for what he thought was right. He has been strictly told to never hit anyone, and he never does as per what I have seen and what his daycare nannies tell me. Just like any child, he trusts easily and doesn’t expect that anyone would do him any harm. Because why should anyone, in his tiny world of happy ending stories? The one in which Bob the Builder builds all buildings, just so that Spiderman could climb those.
It sounds rather strange, but it took a lot out of me that day to walk up to the other child’s mom and talk about the incident. I did it because I have always sucked at standing up for myself. I have given up way too easily. I have been intimidated by people and things often. I haven’t been good enough for myself even more often. I have had troubles looking into someone’s eye whenever confronting them. I have always avoided confrontations. I have tried to run away from life when I was faced with a problem. I have hidden that all behind the image of this iron-willed, strong headed woman that I actually wanted to see in the mirror, but often didn’t. But I couldn’t let my son down now just because I wasn’t comfortable in my skin doing something that meant so much to him.
Motherhood hurts. Because it brings you in front of your real self. It makes you do things you never imagined you would, or could, or should. It hurts because it shatters your assumed boundaries that you never thought you could get out of. And then, it sets you free.
Hesitatingly, I went over to that woman with my son.
‘Hi, are you the mother of this child?’
‘I just wanted to say that your son hit my son there. Nothing bad happened, but I wanted to talk to you about it, so that my son understands that I support him.’
‘Oh sorry about that. I thought your son hit mine.’
‘Umm, actually no, since I saw what happened. But as I said it isn’t a big thing really.’
‘Oh no, I’m glad that you told me, my son needs to learn that he can’t hit.’
It really was as easy as that. I was a hero yet again to my son, who accepts me exactly the way I am with all my flaws, and loves me despite them. For him, love doesn’t pick and choose. It just flows as naturally as water. Even if it hurts, it is the most beautiful thing in the world.