My daughter glares at me accusingly. Once again, I have been found guilty of committing some heinous, mother crime: saying the wrong thing; asking too many questions; wearing frumpy clothes; breathing. The litany of charges stacking up against me these days is long and only one slender thread of hope redeems me from this life of crime. I believe in unconditional love.
Every self my daughter has ever been is reflected in her eyes. The sweet-smelling, plump-cheeked baby. The fiercely independent, curl bobbing two year old. The pink and purple, glittery, snuggling, story-telling five year old. The “you’re the best Mommy in the whole wide world,” soccer playing ten year old. The horse riding, dancing, loud music-listening, texting, facebooking, dating teenager. And finally, this beautiful, funny, talented, adventurous, creative, and for the last two months, intent on fouling the nest, high school senior. I believe in unconditional love.
I watch a mother nuthatch at the bird feeder; the nasally, insistent calls of the two babies perched next to her, are enough to drive any mother to distraction. Her feathers poke out every which way; her movements are harried. Nothing seems to satisfy the demands of her babies. In a flurry of feathers, she is gone. The two babies look at one another, a quizzical “why is Mom always so cranky these days” expression on their faces. They begin to peck contentedly at the birdseed. Clearly, their nest is well and truly fouled!
“Mama bird! Honey! I know just how you feel!”
I believe in unconditional love. The fill your soul, wear your heart on your sleeve, painful, joyful, bittersweet, this nest isn’t big enough for the both of us, love you forever and always, come what may, glorious kind of unconditional love. A love that cradles the memories of baby-time, sleepless nights. A love that cherishes the feel of toddler fingers wound tightly around your neck, a face pressed against yours, whispering sweetness into your ear. A love that etches images of child-wonder as you peer under countless beach boulders, watch the swoop of eagles, hear the whoosh of whale exhalation. A love that marvels at the incredible young woman who stands in the child’s place! A love that allows for a hint of parental smugness at a job well done. An unconditional love that teaches the wisdom and gives the strength to let go!