The Hum


Before my son entered my world, I would watch mothers playing with their children in the yard or at the park. I often noticed a wistful smile on the face of the mother watching her toddler wobble along the sidewalk, and I always imagined the mother was trying to capture that moment – the fleeting image of chubby legs with the gait of a drunken sailor, only days ago accomplishing no more than a crawling shuffle, and knowing in a few more that same little wonder will break out into a run.

But little did I know about the undercurrent, the hum inside the mother that is switched on 24 hours a day. That hum that watches this same stumbling child, as she scans the ground for pointy sticks and jagged rocks in her child’s path; or eyes suspiciously any oncoming car, praying they obey the traffic laws and are aware of the presence of such a small life.

Never did I know this hum was there, making it impossible for the seemingly relaxed sunbathing mother to turn off her automatic beach surveillance. Or to ignore the home’s electrical sockets or the sharp corners on walls or expensive vases in other people’s houses.

As the child grows, that same hum is responsible for making the mother stare at the clock, aware that her baby is starting a difficult test, or causing her to cringe during hre child’s entire dentist appointment because she saw fear in those precious eyes.

It’s what makes a mother bite her nails wondering how the first date is going, what makes her cry herself to sleep, knowing her teenager is doing the same in the next room, of a broken heart.

It’s what makes her knees shake as she tries to smile and cheerfully kiss her baby goodbye at the college dorm, what keeps her by the phone that night in case she’s needed to whisper away homesickness. And when this grown child comes home with a car full of dirty laundry and an empty wallet, it’s what makes her only pretend to be annoyed.

In fact, this hum never stops, not until the end of her days. It’s there to the very end, even when her baby’s hair begins to gray like her own.

Some may say, “This isn’t for me. I couldn’t carry such a burden.” Others may say, “It’s so much worry.” But this hum is not a burden a mother cares to part with; not at all. Because at its essence, this hum is not worry. It is love.

14 thoughts on “The Hum

  1. Oh my, I am weeping with joy that you finally understand. That’s what life is all about. Love, your mother.

  2. Oh my. That is beautiful. And captures so much of what I feel. And it’s not only what the current dangers are … it’s the questions in the back of your mind: should i give her the flu vaccine even though she has an egg allergy — weighing a flu epidemic vs. anaphylaxis, which kindergarten should i send her to– weighing the best learning vs. the best physical security, or for our best friends right now, should I take my three week old daughter into an ICU unit to see my dying mother — weighing their tiny daughter’s imperfect immunity with their hope to bring their mother back.

    There’s always something on our minds. And it is hard to convey that feeling to anyone other than a mother.

  3. “the hum”
    That’s a really great way to put that almost manic “thing” that I do. Thanks. Now I can explain it to my hubby. :)

  4. Beautiful. My hum has been changing as my children get older, it’s a different pitch I guess. But it never, ever goes away. Thanks.

  5. Based on my three years, one month of experience, you’ve got it spot on!

    I can’t ever relax in someone else’s house. I can get maybe 95% of the way there in my in-laws’ (very child friendly) place, but I’d rather host every play date and La Leche meeting just so that I’m home. I know where the dangers are here, instead of assuming they’re everywhere.

  6. Onetiredema, I agree! I find myself aching to get out of the house and “relax”, but it doesn’t take long to realize it’s easier at home where I know all the dangers already. And Imperfect Mommy, the vaccines are definitely another cause for high-pitched humming, isn’t it? That one drives me to distraction. Sounds like you have a tough decision on the hospital visit! I hope all goes okay.

  7. Thanks for the post I got all teary I”ll blamed it on hormone, but I love this read and it’s so true

  8. This must be why when dh and I go on a date, and the kids are with my inlaws (whom I trust very much), my eyes kind of glaze over and I buzz a little bit. I am so content to just stare off into space. It feels like turning my brain off for a few moments just so that it gets a break. My mom says after kids you sleep with one ear open the rest of your life. Thanks for putting into words what keeps us on our toes.
    Glory

  9. Wow. I’m sitting here (with one ear on the kids playing of course) tears streaming down my face. It’s all so true and so well stated and I’m so glad that my dear friend Diane has the blessing of knowing this amazing experience.

    I sat with one of my patients for over an hour yesterday just talking to her about her only son. She is 91. Her son was 75 when he passed away in May. I saw his picture. He was “old” and bald and just looked like an average old bald man. But when she spoke about him (with her faded blue eyes alternating between shining and clouding over)
    he was a beautiful little baby again, 6 lbs. 9 oz., big blue eyes, fuzzy little blonde hair that won’t stay in place. Then she and I were at the High school watching her big burly son line backing. She and his dad go to every game. They are so proud. We walked through many moments of his life. She describes the tiniest details with clarity -it was just yesterday.

    She does not know what the silence is that she feels. She has not heard that silence since she was 16 yrs. old. It is the absence of the “hum”.

  10. Oh, Tracy! That was so beautiful. I tried to relay it to my husband (knew I wouldn’t be able to read it outloud), but I cried anyway! That’s something I’ll never forget – I hope people who read The Hum get to read your comment too! It adds so much to the meaning.

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