As I approached motherhood, I had to get over at least two serious misconceptions. First, I thought becoming a mother would connect me to my species across generations. If I had a baby, I reasoned, I'd feel closer to my grandparents, and to my grandchildren, if any should ever appear. I envisioned Burrowes family links disappearing into the mists of the past and future, in the person of my only child. "Land, Katie Scarlett--and babies!" thought I.
Hmm. Turns out, when that child showed up, I felt more connected to everybody. To every parent, every child, every elder, every family dog or cat. We're all in this together, and anybody who's ever held a baby knows how the experience opens the heart to the entire community.
My second misconception was that prior to Beloved Offspring's birth, I had already learned what it was to love passionately. I'd been in love at least three times (count 'em), lived with a guy, and rearranged my life to make a partnered plan work.
Well, not quite. I had certainly desired passionately. I had been in love, but to love as a mom was a whole 'nother level of tenacious, resourceful, and resilient. I had been flirting with love before, and when Herself showed up, the opening rounds were over--I love my daughter, irrevocably, and also with a grasp of the concept of a boundary. I'm hers for keeps, no matter what, though my love respects her privacy and personhood. A lot of my own issues were resolved by parenting, because I could see from a mother's vantage point how to accept the whole flawed, wonderful person, even when that person was... myself.
To gain these insights, about the durability of true love, and the breadth of it, I had to become a parent, and a parent to this lovely child. Other people can come to similar conclusions without reproducing, but that's the door that opened before me.
Everything I've done worth noting--represented foster children, written books, been a friend/daughter/sister/etc--has been illuminated by the lessons I've learned being my daughter's mom. My education is far from complete, but I do know this: Nothing in my life has yielded gifts as vast and unending as has the privilege of being my daughter's mother.