I am understanding in a completely new way how moms everywhere feel about their babies, whether the "babies" are 3 weeks or 30 years old. I always knew my mother loved me. I am lucky that I have never doubted it for a moment. Now that I have Claire in my life, though, I understand how deep and complete that love is, and I am beginning to see it everywhere I look.
Jon and I went to a wedding this weekend and left Claire at home with my sister. We could have brought her with us, but definitely would have gone home earlier, and it was in many ways a welcome experience: a late afternoon and evening of not balancing the feeding, bath, and bedtime schedule but simply enjoying the presence of friends and the union of two people we love. My arms felt strangely empty, though, and I found myself quickly gravitating toward the other parents who DID bring their little ones. We talked about nursing and sleep and the funny things our babies do. We talked about how much we love having these small beings in our lives. We talked about how beautiful we find them.
Toward the end of the evening I found myself in the hallway with the mother of the bride. Jon and I were getting ready to go home and I was already looking forward to opening the door to Claire's dark room and hearing her breathe. My friend's mother and I talked about what a wonderful evening it had been, and then we caught sight of the bride in her hand-made dress, flowers in her hair. "She's just beautiful," I said to her mother. "You must be so happy." She squeezed my hand and smiled ecstatically. And there it was -- that same glow of delight that us newer moms shine with, radiant with the love we never knew could be so fully woven through our lives.
I've been thinking of Claire's birth as a true rite of passage, not only into my life as a mother, but as a mother among mothers. It's as if in falling in love with our babies our eyes are opened to the love of mothers everywhere -- as if we were given a pair of mom-radar glasses that enable us to see that special bond, no matter how strong or tenuous. What an amazing gift.