Last night when I was watching Orange Is the New Black, a show about a woman’s time in prison, one of the inmates went into labor. After being taken to the hospital to deliver her baby, she returned to her cell block to finish her time without her child.
Even without an infant in her arms, the viewer could tell she had changed. She was painted with the brush of grief and she seemed adrift. Her child was not with her and the despair that must be felt by all women separated from their babies, for whatever reason, is incomprehensible to me.
But it was more than that. Her eyes looked at the world differently. Motherhood – parenthood – does that. Life changes when you welcome a child into your heart. Children color not only our walls and furniture, but also our views on so many seemingly ordinary things.
I see my children everywhere.
In the twenty foot tall inflatable air dancer at the local car dealership, I see my six-year-old son’s flailing arms and legs while he’s dancing, or when he has “too many wiggles that need to come out.”
In every child looking out the window of a school bus, I see my own bus riding first-grader.
When I see a strawberry, I remember the way my four-year-old daughter’s face lights up at her favorite fruit.
In every conversation between an earnest child and an adult, I see my girl, and her love of chatting up “growm-ups.”
In the enthusiastic tail of our black lab, I see both kids’ warm, exuberant welcomes when I come home from work.
In anything Harry Potter, I feel my son’s intense desire to receive his letter of acceptance into Hogwarts someday.
In any crime drama involving children, which, in my mind, used to be innocent prime-time television, I see the faces of my own children – the stuff of nightmares.
In careless adults crossing the street without looking, I see my boy and girl, moving through life with the confidence that, no matter what Mom and Dad say, their bodies are resistant to the being hit by moving cars.
In former child stars struggling in adulthood, I see their plight through the eyes of a mother. While their actions may be at times laughable, their situations are deeply sad and troubling.
In the face of my husband, etched with concentration over his work or a project around the house, I see our boy, bent over his Legos for hours.
Ordinary things are special because of my children’s delight.
A ladybug is something to be marveled, not a bug to be squashed.
A flower is meant to be smelled; a hand is meant to be held.
Bedtimes are meant to be avoided, and mothers are for sharing secrets and really, all thoughts, no matter how small.
Clouds are full of animal shapes, and silly commercials can be watched over and over and over. And over.
I’m not sure when I can expect the overwhelming weight of the blanket of parenthood to lighten, and I don’t know if I want it to. I am comfortably uncomfortable in the vulnerability of being a mother, and I’ve always loved a good, heavy blanket.