top of page

The Force of Motherhood

I peer through the rails of the playground fence surrounding my son’s preschool. He is three years old at the time, and he has no idea that I am stalking him and all of the other two-foot tall little humans that surround him. I feel a shiver of embarrassment as one of the teachers catches a glimpse of me spying. Not enough shame, however, to stop me from gathering intelligence on how my little boy is fitting in amongst his peers and apart from me. Not enough to interfere with my mission of figuring out how to protect my child’s heart. I would do anything, because there is not a force more powerful than a mother’s desire to protect the heart of her child. This force spans all of time and every age and stage of our child’s life. There is no beginning and no end to this longing to protect the hearts of our children.

Will they be kind? Will they include him? Does his teacher see him–really see my quiet boy? Will he feel lost? Will someone find his heart and hold it if I'm not there? These bars of the preschool fence feel like an impossible separation. I grip the rails and can only watch and see what will happen. I would move fences and mountains and oceans to protect the heart of my boy, but as I stand here separated from him, I am painfully aware that this fence has greater significance than providing security for a preschool. It shows me that his heart beats away from mine. That it will bruise and break and break mine along with it. 

As the years pass, the playgrounds get larger and the hours that our hearts are separated grow longer. The issues get bigger and the stakes are higher. We grasp at these now imaginary rails as we watch our kids navigate middle school and high school. We watch as they learn how to give their heart to another, and how their first crush crushes them. We watch as they don’t make the team. Don’t make the friend group. Don’t make the party invitation list. And we want to run in with the most powerful force of love and rescue their hearts. To protect them from breaking or hardening or from stopping altogether. But we can’t.

We once held our child’s heart in our own body. Perhaps this is where this ache comes from–why we continue to strive to protect long after the cord between our hearts has been cut. We want to tie it back up. Stay connected, and shield this heart for its entire lifetime. But instead, we must helplessly watch it from a distance. We hold the rails as we watch our children grow–watch their hearts become resilient, and compassionate, and strong. This is what we want after all, isn’t it?  Because a shielded heart never learns the limitlessness of its power. It never has a chance to expand and lend itself to another. 

And then comes the day when our children will leave. Off to college or to some other destination of their choosing. These wings we helped them grow are now carrying our kids away from us, along with their hearts. How are we to protect them now? The fence rails we once clung to so tightly have turned into prayers and texts. Phone calls and plane rides. Calendar pages turned until they come home for a holiday or because they just might be missing home. These hearts we once carried are not just out of our body, they are now out of our home. Are they sleeping? Are they eating? Are they safe? Have they made a friend? We want to call and we want to give them space. We want them to come home, but we want them to adjust to being away. We want to go visit, but it has only been a week since they left and they will think we are way too clingy. But, who will protect their heart?

There is not a force more powerful than a mothers desire to protect the heart of her child. This doesn’t end when they are no longer little. This doesn’t stop when they are teens trying to stretch away from us in the most uncomfortable and confusing ways. This doesn’t stop when they head off to college or to other adventures that summon their soul. This doesn't stop when they get married, have children, or move across the country. We might try to put up a strong front. We will let go and try to allow them to make good decisions and bad ones, but we will always want to protect their hearts. There is no beginning and there is no end to this longing. This powerful force of a mothers desire to protect the heart of her child.


bottom of page