There are cliche motherhood quotes that end up plastered on Facebook walls about how a mother’s heart beats outside of her body, and there is a bit of truth to it. In a very real and biological way this DNA that used to be mine, these cells that made up me, are now outside of me in your body. Your heart beats and it is somehow mysteriously all your own and yet somehow still connected to mine.
You are my DNA, merged and wrapped and formed with your Dad’s. (Despite what all those ladies at church say, you do look like me.) You have my nose, my startling independence, my squinty-eyed smile. For months you grew inside me, cocooned inside my body and safe.
But now that you are here, born into the world and navigating it in your own unique way, anywhere can feel unsafe to me at a moment’s notice. The man walking toward us is a knife plunging into my side, a hand ripping the stroller from my grasp. The car coming toward us on the two lane road is a drunk driver about to collide with our car head-on. The air conditioner is a drug addict with a gun, the stove is silently leaking carbon monoxide, the bees buzzing around our porch are an allergic reaction.
I am told by other moms this is normal, this is motherhood. This alertness which crosses the boundary lines of personality and disposition is to be expected. It finds all of us. As if when the baby growing inside us was birthed, something had to take its place inside our bellies. Something like fear.
I don’t burden you with these things. But I do wonder if I will always see danger this quickly. For now I have begun acknowledging these thoughts in my head and waving at them hoping they’ll pass me by. I remind myself, “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” and I wonder why I think I can take better care of you than our friend Jesus.
It seems motherhood, at least for me, has been a practice in learning how to let go of myself - my fears, my desire for control, my heart beating outside of my body. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it - you and me and this DNA we share. Thanks be to God.