I remember my mother telling me once that children are the gifts that keep on taking. To be fair, she was quite jaded after having eight of her own but, while I disagree with her words, I think I finally understand what she was trying to say.
I have three wonderful daughters who fill me with pride, shower me with love as much as they possibly can, and have given me more gifts, in both physical and literal senses, than I could ever wish for.
But at the same time, they are capable of bringing so much grief.
Because you never, ever stop being their mother. Even when they are grown women and mothers themselves, they are still my girls, and I feel every bump in their road as if they were still seven, nine and twelve years old.
Not even counting my own trials and tribulations, my girls and I have been through hideous break-ups involving partners with addictions. We’ve sobbed over lost babies, railed against unfair employers, and rallied together to banish depression.
Sometimes when these crises occur I have been thousands of miles away, feeling hopeless and desperate to get to my child and comfort her. It wrenches my heart more than if I had been dumped, abused or were suffering myself.
When the first of my daughters went into labour, I was right there with her and, I tell you, if there had been away to reach into her body, yank that pain out of her and stuff it into my own being, I would have!
If being there was bad, not being there was worse. Like some mad parody of the grandmother-in-waiting, I literally paced up and down the hallway of my home while my second grandchild was being born.
The moment I will never, ever forget for as long as I live, however, is the moment my youngest called to tell me she couldn’t get out of bed because she was being crushed by sadness. To say I got there quickly is an understatement.
Again, the agony of watching her move through those months of pain were more real to me than the pains of the labour from which she was born.
Do mothers of sons feel this way? Of course.
Having a boy grandchild, I now know the pain of a wheelie gone wrong or the first time a girl is mean to you just because you’re a boy.
I suppose my mother was trying to tell me that parenting is a life sentence. That you would forever be entangled with the lives of these people you created, and thus would share their ups and downs. My girls are a gift, that much is true, and I can take whatever they give me.
Do you have daughters or sons? Do you feel their pain and joy?