Universal Mother Truth

Originally published 9/22/2010

When I think about my life, and I compare the things I’d hoped to accomplish with the things I actually have done, I realize by most standards I am nothing short of ordinary. I did not coach a world champion. I never got around to writing that novel. I never made it to graduate school. In fact, all of my plans were abruptly stalled when I became a mother. Motherhood caught me off guard. I never expected to immerse myself into life as the stay-at-home-uber-queen-of-the carpool I have become. I am Mama, Mommy, Mom, and at times Maaahh-uuum, complete with eye roll.

Pat and I had been married for six years when, tipping the scales at roughly 70 pounds over my normal fighting weight (no I never hit 190), I gave birth to our first child: a baby boy. That was nearly two decades ago, and still whenever I reminisce about the day Christian was born it unleashes a wellspring of emotions.

I remember one particular morsel of self-discovery with such intense clarity, it seems as if it happened only yesterday. Somewhere deep inside my sanctity-of-life-respecting soul, a savage beast lay waiting and the moment I first held my son I knew, with undisputed certainty, I was capable of murder. Indeed, as I gazed into Christian’s eyes I thought, “If anyone, anyone, tries to harm you I will kill him.”

Four years later, I nestled another newborn son in my arms. Again that protective instinct erupted and in that pre-APGAR moment between mother and infant, I made the same solemn promise to Jared as I had to Christian, “If anyone, anyone, tries to harm you, I will kill him.”

Perhaps fluctuating hormones are the source of this murderous instinct in an otherwise normal woman. Perhaps I simply am a raving lunatic. Perhaps, but I assure you I am not alone. At first, I honestly believed that the intensity with which I responded to giving birth was unique to me. Surely no other mother loved her children as much as I loved mine. There was something extraordinary about me. I was sure of it.

Since then, I have spent countless hours at playgrounds, in carpool lines, and volunteering at school functions. I’ve spent a lifetime of arriving 30 minutes early to sporting events, school plays, and band concerts (the agenda for which, I shamelessly admit, is to claim the best position from which to snap photographs and capture the video).

I have done these things in the company of my mother colleagues. While I can’t calculate the actual amount of time I’ve spent in mom-to-mom contact and conversations, I am certain I’ve accumulated more than enough anecdotal evidence to confirm this universal mother-truth: IF YOU HURT OUR BABIES WE WILL KILL YOU.

Whether it is from the benign threats of the schoolyard bully or the most heinous misdeeds of the pedophile, we mothers do what it takes to protect our children. We do it with complete disregard for our own health, safety, and (I’m afraid) dignity. There is nothing particularly heroic about it. It’s a universal mother truth: IF YOU HURT OUR BABIES WE WILL KILL YOU. For a mom, it’s all in an ordinary day’s work and that is what makes motherhood extraordinary.

Copyright © 2010 Antoinette Datoc All Rights Reserved

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