Good mothers love despite.
From the first day we hold our children in our arms, we love them despite.
We love them despite their waking us in the night, again and again, until we are ill and crazed with sleeplessness.
We love them despite their crying for no obvious reason.
We love them despite their tendency to piss in our clothes and vomit in our hair.
We love them despite their lack of understanding of so many things that make the world work, like rules and laws and social conventions and polite replies and locks on doors and traffic lights and sidewalks.
We love them despite their all-too canny understanding of how to annoy and provoke us.
We love them despite their biting us, or hitting us with tiny fists. We love them despite tantrums. We love them despite broken picture frames, and broken dishes, and toys flung across a room. We love them despite their anger.
We love them despite their taking of our time and our attention. We love them despite their desire to have what they want right now. We love them despite their constant, constant need of us that brooks no respite and very little compromise. We love them despite their selfishness.
We love them despite.
This is the Mother Love, the instinctive love, the love that has the power to turn ordinary women into saints in the face of adversity and tigers in the face of danger. This is the love that halts a hand about to slap and mutes a voice about to scream more times than anyone who has not felt it could know.
It is not infallible. But it is incredibly powerful. It strengthens us. It shakes our sense of self, violently, and flips our concentration outward, giving us a sudden vision of the world as a place peopled by people who once were children like our own.
There is no other feeling quite like this feeling of loving our children despite.
But oh, to love them because is so much sweeter.
When my son was less than two years old, he once pushed his tiny way between two much larger children who were fighting viciously over a toy, and firmly held them apart, saying "Stop! Share!"
When he was two and a half, he once tried to put the falling autumn leaves back on the trees, scared that the trees might be sick.
He reaches out patiently, gently to touch animals, never pulling fur or tails, never chasing them just to chase something. Even cranky cats who hate children like him.
He thinks worms and spiders are cute.
He likes books.
He says hello and smiles to people we don't know in stores and restaurants, or on the street.
He'll play the piano for hours at a time, just trying out the sounds of different notes, making up songs. Sometimes I have to remind him to stop and eat. He's not a virtuoso. He can barely read music. He just likes to play. Sometimes his play songs sound like real songs these days, though.
He wants to know everything. Like where people came from. And where the Earth came from. And where the Sun came from and where the stars came from and where the universe came from. And what an electron is. And how nuclear fusion works.
I'd love this boy no matter whose child he was.
I always have loved, and I always will love my child despite. But as the years go by, I feel incredibly lucky and humbled to find I love him more and more because.