I believe there is no love more intense or ferocious than that of a mother for her child. I come to this belief, having worked as a pediatric nurse practitioner, caring for acutely ill children, often with debilitating anomalies, honorably observing the unselfish devotion common to all mothers, regardless of cultural or socioeconomic specifics. I am rooted in this belief, having personally experienced the wonder of childbirth and the incompropable joy and heartbreak involved in raising three children. I am reminded of this belief each time I observe my sister, the proud mother of two disabled children, who struggles on a daily basis to provide security, good education and shelter from the potential cruelty inherent in any social interaction.
As a new graduate in my first nursing job, I was assigned as the primary nurse to a beautiful infant born with a neuromuscular abnormality, that progressively invaded all organ systems, known to ultimately result in a slow death. Brian had extraordinary blue eyes, round face with naturally rosy cheeks, and soft light brown hair that I combed through each day. Initially seeming to defy the typical deterioration common to the diagnosis, his parents were optimistic and hopeful that he could one day leave the hospital and live a normal live. Sadly, he eventually acquired respiratory infections that would not resolve and became ventilator dependent, and progressively weaker in every way. His mother traveled an hour each day to be with him, directly involved in all aspects of his care, unflinching in her commitment to master every task involved in the treatments. As he weakened, she began the fight to allow him to be taken off the ventilator to die peacefully, a concept not supported by the academic teaching hospital administration. She was unwavering in her position, while continuing to spend hours at the bedside, struggling to come to terms with her reality. Her bravery and stamina were rooted in a profound love, that I had never observed at 21 years old.
Ten years later I began to truly comprehend the magnitude of that experience, delivering my first child, a daughter we named after my mother. The raw instinct of maternal love and need to protect was immediate, and overwhelming, and was matched only in the subsequent births of my next two children over the years. I foolishly believed this was a temporary feeling that would gradually dissipate as they grew up. Come to find out, that if anything, the intensity and urgency of this involvement is only heightened with each milestone and new adventure they’re exposed to.
As any parent of a special needs child knows, those adventures are often impossible and usually altered significantly to accommodate the limitations and specific requirements of that child. My sister, now having raised two challenged children, seems to deal with a never-ending list of frustrating issues, negotiating systems and administrators often unsympathetic to the reality of her situation. She is tireless in her quest to find the best school, teacher, tutor or coach that will allow the talents and gifts of her kids to shine. Her undaunted courage in accepting the long term commitment required to allow for optimal life quality and real happiness for her children is inspiring.
I believe there is no love as intense, or rewarding. Happy Mother’s Day to all!
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.