On motherly love

I recently listened to someone describe motherly love as “fierce”. I couldn’t agree more. I am sure there are exceptions. All mothers are not the same, even in how they love their children. I tend to be of the fierce loving kind. I have two sons whom I love with an unrelenting devotion. This brings me to another thought about motherly love. A phrase I heard not that long ago – “You can only be as happy as your least happy child.”  I pondered that briefly when I first heard it. Is it true for me? Oh, yes!

Both of my sons were married once before to wonderful women but not the right women for them. The divorces were not only ugly but very painful for all involved. Fortunately my sons were not going through their pain at the same time. I would have been a wreck! My oldest went through it first. He was at the lowest point I had ever witnessed. I could not bring myself to feel joy while he was suffering. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Years later my youngest son went through a similar pain. He even lived with us for a short time. That was hard. I saw the hurt in his eyes every day. I heard it in his voice. I watched him slowly disappear into himself. It was a difficult time for both of us.

Fortunately both of them survived and as they say, thrived. Both met and married women who were better matches for them and are now the happiest I have ever known them to be. And this truly fills my heart.

So why are we as mothers unable to feel complete happiness if one of our children is suffering? This should be obvious, right? I am sure there are wonderful mothers out there who can still manage happiness even when one or more of their children is in pain. This has to be the case. Are they stronger than we are? Are they more rational? Are they more trusting that all will be well in the end? Perhaps. And that hits on something that we mothers of the first kind (the ones who suffer) should give more thought to. Trusting. We should trust that our children will recover from this painful experience, whatever it is, even grow from it, and come out on the other end a stronger, better version of themselves. How hard would that be for us to do?  Good question.

I have talked about trust before. It is an invaluable tool at our disposal any time we need it. Trusting that all will be well can be challenging especially when everything in front of our eyes speaks to the contrary. But that is exactly when we need this tool the most.

Our children are extensions of ourselves. They are pieces of our heart that have broken free but we can feel them as if they were still within us. Maybe that’s the reason we cannot be happier than our least happy child. Our children are not completely separate, ever, for many of us mothers. You might as well stick us with a pin, we feel the pain the same way, even if it is our child who is the recipient.  As we all know, people have different tolerance levels for pain. That could explain the reason not all mothers are the same when it comes to the suffering of their children.

The mothers in my life, my own mother who has passed, my sister, my relatives, my close friends, are all cut from the same cloth. For better or worse, we are only as happy as our least happy child. My sons know that about me and I think it brings us closer. They know they are never alone in their pain. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a mother. It’s what I do. I’m fierce.  :))

One thought on “On motherly love

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Your blog on motherly love touched me on many levels.

    I had one of those (rare) mothers whose love I can only describe as “soft”. Motherly love comes from that unconditional place in the heart and no matter the quality it takes on, it is precious. I always cherished that unconditional – truly unconditional – love I felt from my mother. I never realized how rare our relationship was. Through the years, I have met many women who had “challenging” relationships with their mothers – and some who still do. I lost my beloved mother when I was thirty-eight. She had just turned sixty-five – much too young for both of us, but what a blessing to have experienced that love.

    When I read, “You can only be as happy as your least happy child” – I said “Yes!” But here’s the strange thing. I am a Stepmom. I met my three children seven years ago, when they were 12, 16 and 19. I am only as happy as the least happy child. It has been that way from the very beginning. It is a curious, different, and wonderful thing all at the same time. I have always been an empathetic person, so it’s hard to say if it’s truly a “motherly” phenomenon or something else. But it is real.

    When one of them is going through a challenging time, I try to remember to work on trusting that they each have their own path, their own trials and tribulations, which they must experience to grow and mature. I try to alleviate the pain that I experience when one of them is in pain by remembering that.

    In reality, we are all cut from the same cloth. Perhaps our greatest gift to others is to be in a space of joy, peace, and love – so that the light at the end of the tunnel may be seen and felt by all.

    Thank you for adding light to my morning!

    Love & Blessings,

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