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.