It's Mother's Day 2010 and my husband, Brian, trying to make conversation, asks me, "Do you ever look at our kids in amazement and say, 'Wow, they started inside me?'"
I slowly turn toward him and reply, "Yes, but it's very hard to put into words. I mean, how can anyone describe the connectedness a mother feels toward her children?" It is impossible.
"As a fertilized egg moves slowly down the uterus, it is already dividing rapidly into many cells."
We carry, feed, clothe, diaper, bathe, nurture, chase, catch, hug, and then at some point we have to let go.
"At this stage, the embryo is called a morula. About one week after fertilization, the morula starts to implant in the endometrium of the uterus…"
I always thought that letting go would be the easiest part of having children. But I was wrong. It's the hardest by far.
"…establishing an intimate link between the mother and embryo that lasts throughout pregnancy."
It's one of those things that mothers can only express accurately in the murmurs and moans of the heart. When I think of my children, I get a lump in my throat caused by unintended feelings of remorse over how fast they grew from a tiny twinkle in our eyes to grown adults with lives of their own.
"The membranes joining the embryo to the placenta develop into a cord, the umbilicus, which grows thicker and longer as development proceeds."
Where did the years go? My youngest will be 26 in a couple of months; my oldest is 36. As I look back, I can measure my life by when the children stopped doing things: stopped nursing, stopped wearing diapers, stopped drinking from a bottle, stopped eating baby food, stopped holding my hand to cross the street, stopped calling me "Mommy," stopped coming home before midnight and ultimately stopped living at home.
"The umbilical arteries and vein, within this cord, carry blood from the fetus to the placenta and back."
We mothers become so fluent in the needs of our children that when they finally do leave the nest, we lose our way and continue to cook for the whole brood, grocery shop as if all the kids were still at home. Little League fields, science fairs and school concerts are homing devices to us.
Raising children transforms everything mothers do into a purpose. After children leave home, moms find themselves having to re-purpose everything.
"In the placenta, capillaries of the mother and fetus lie close together and the maternal and fetal bloodstreams exchange substances. Here the fetal blood picks up food and oxygen."
The bonds mothers feel for their children stretch well beyond the physical, leading us down the soundless paths of the heart, to the speechless places of the soul, where only a mother's love can say what we cannot express.
[Source: "Biology A Journey Into Life" Arms & Camp]
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place statewide. To contact Paula, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.
2010© Paula Damon