I waited several months before meeting my boyfriend Jason’s son, Trenton.
What I didn’t expect was the quick connection the two of us made. Trenton, the sporty seven-year-old who loves to laugh, and I, the thirty-year-old woman who had always wanted children, became fast friends.
It wasn’t until one of Trenton’s basketball games that I realized the depth of my love for this boy. As Jason and I sat on the sidelines, we watched the coordinated Trenton run, pass, and shoot the ball fluidly. While he was dribbling the ball down court, Trenton’s opponent closely followed. Somehow Trenton lost control of the ball. It began to roll. He tried to retrieve the ball before it went out of bounds. As Trenton sped up, so did his opponent. Both kids, so focused on the ball, neglected to notice the stage that was quickly approaching in front of them. They picked up speed. I noted the height of the stage and the height of Trenton and saw the potential destruction. Then it happened; Trenton’s face collided with the solid wood stage. It made a horrible noise, and he hollered out.
Before I knew it, Jason was over to him and had scooped him up, carrying him like a baby. He held him close and softly consoled him. I wanted to run to them, but I stayed seated. As Jason brought Trenton to our seats, I realized I could hardly see. My eyes were full of tears. My heart was beating hard in my chest. My body wanted to wail for this sweet boy. No serious injury came from his accident, so wailing wasn’t necessary. He composed himself quickly, as kids usually do, and returned to the court. As I watched him shake it off, I said to myself, “You’re in love with this kid.”
I know my reaction to Trenton’s accident was a motherly one. The pride I feel when I see him learn new things is something a mother feels. This last year has been hard on our relationship because I’ve been so consumed with finishing my college degree. I don’t always have time to play a game or shoot hoops with him, and he usually understands. But, sometimes, I give in to his sweet, little voice and put my books down.
I did not give birth to Trenton, but I love him as a mother would. I believe that being a mother is more than biology; being a mother is a state of mind. In a recent stress management workshop, I listened to many women express the difficulty in balancing college with motherhood. They talked about the disappointment they saw in their children’s eyes, not to mention the disappointment they felt in themselves, for having to turn away their children to study. I found myself shaking my head in agreement. I sympathized with them. And that day, what I’d been feeling with Trenton for nearly two years was clearly defined: I am a mother because I love like one.
After graduating with her bachelor's degree in English from Boise State University, Jennifer Smith went on to study for her master's in marriage and family counseling. Although she and Jason parted ways in 2009, the experiences she shared with him and his family helped shape her into the person she is today: the wife of an amazing man, Mike, and the mother of her three-month-old girl, Marlowe Grace.
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