I have a mama's heart.
It may have something to do with the two girls who lie now in their rooms just down the hall from where I sit tonight pecking away on my keyboard. The older, stuffy nose and red swollen eye be damned, is stealing a last few moments lost in the pages of Diary of A Wimpy Kid. The younger, having worn herself out with multiple water and music and nightlight and hug requests, is finally asleep.
They are the center. The space inside from which all else orbits and evolves. They are my delight, and my frustration, my deepest peace, and my most morbid terror. They are every overused cliche and every brutal truth. They are the root of my soul, the poetry of my heart, the cadence of my life. In them and through them I am filled and emptied and broken and rebuilt.
Yes, I have a mama's heart.
But it's not just them. A mama's heart is not just birthing a baby and changing diapers and carpools and homework and dance recitals. It's the heart of all of us, man or woman, parent or child. In the spaces where we connect, where we love, where we are one. I call it a mama's heart because that is what I know. But really, it is the healing force, the breath that flows, the purity of love and spirit that reminds us that we must all nurture, and be nurtured- if we are to grow.
I write tonight, not with intention of crafting perfect sentences or the desire to create finely tuned phrases. There will be no editing and second-guessing and ripping apart what flows organically. No, tonight I'm feeling these words onto the screen, weeping them out of my fingertips and onto the blank white space in front of my eyes. I write from the ache in my chest and the salty tears that cloud my vision. I write from the touch of my firstborn's arms around me and the sound of her breathless voice as told about the super cool game she played in PE. I write from the feel of my baby girl as she curls her body into mine and the irrepressible giggle that is only silenced by anger or sleep. I write from the knowledge that there is nothing that I wouldn't do, and the knowledge that even that may not be enough – that there will surely be moments where it won't be nearly enough.
Yes, I write from a mama's heart.
And with a mama's heart comes a veil of empathy through which all is seen and measured. With a mama's heart comes the inability to experience heartache from distance. With a mama's heart comes the knowledge, soul deep, that every moment is full of beauty and blessings and potential, and yet – is just a breath or a step or a decision away from the most abject chasm of loss imaginable.
This week, here in Arizona, the news hits close to home. Terror and grief and confusion mingle with blame and rhetoric and vitriol. And beyond the politics and the heroism and the unanswerable questions, there are the people who will be forever changed by this day.
And as always, my own mama's heart goes immediately and eternally to the mothers.
The mother who, on 9/11 – while from my sofa I watched as planes collided and towers fell and rubbed my belly, praying that my daughter would stay safe inside – was just a few hours south, pushing her baby girl into a world forever changed, and who now must live without her precious daughter in a world forever changed once more. The mother who instinctively threw her teenage daughter against a wall and took not one, not two, but three bullets without moving from her position of protective cover. The mother of two and grandmother of three who died that day, despite her husband's attempts to shield her from the bullets.
And the mother of the man who did this unspeakable thing. She must, I think, have held him and rocked him to sleep. She must have dried his tears and kissed his owies and held his hand as he crossed the street. She must have quietly tiptoed into his room as he slept, and felt, with a heart full to bursting, that there is nothing that she wouldn't do to give him everything in the world. No matter what happened within their family between then and now, she must have loved him with a mama's heart. And right now, that mama's heart must be shattered.
I am reminded that the world we live in is both solicitously gentle and unfathomably ruthless all at once. And that we can never know what life holds for us, or for our children. We can do our best. We can provide every ounce of love, feed them only locally produced organic food, drive the safest cars on the safest roads. We can set boundaries and curfews and not let them date until they are 27. We can take them to church and teach them to meditate lovingkindness and make sure they hand in their homework on time. We can send them bravely out into the world and tuck them safely into bed at night. We can lecture and teach and guide and pour every ounce love in our hearts into every single moment of their lives. But we cannot predict. We cannot guarantee. We cannot control.
Yes, I have a mama's heart. And right now, my mama heart weeps.