(A Mother’s) Love is a Pair a Muddy Mittens

I parked my car at the gym this morning, tired, distracted, mind already on my workout and run, the assignments, the fact that I can’t get into any classes this summer, the meeting I had that afternoon. I yanked my gym bag off the passenger seat floor and saw a pair of pink striped muddy mittens. The memory of yesterday flooded back to me.

Steve ran down to a nearby park and the girls and I met him there. They were enthralled at the mud and so, after scooping and rolling and drawing with sticks, Leila’s mittens were sopping with mud. I pulled them off her hands, fingers flushed pink, and tossed them in the car. Steve took the girls in the car and I ran home.

So what about mittens? Who even cares about mittens? Probably no one but me. Seeing those mittens made my heart swell with love. Who can see the wonder in a muddy path but a child? Who takes as much joy and concentration from drawing lines in the mud with sticks but a child?

This afternoon as I was loading the kids into the car after daycare, Leila announced that she had to pee. Grumbling, I unbuckled Alena and we headed back into the building. As I watched Leila wash and dry her hands, completely familiar with the small toilets and sinks, her sister, ever loyal, holding Leila’s jacket, my heart exploded. You’re so big! When did you get so big? I said. I just *am*, Mom, you know that.

So what about washing your hands? Who cares about kids washing their hands? Probably no one but me. How can I properly explain the way I feel when words are unworthy? How can I describe the pride and love and awe and wonder I feel for these girls? This gifts, blessings, angels. I love them ferociously and unabashedly and proudly and humbly. I am unworthy of these gifts, I have done nothing, nothing to deserve the profound experience of accompanying these two children on their journey through life. I pray hopefully that I will make the right choices, that I will do well by them.

I read this post over the weekend about favouring one child more than the other. And in all honesty, I don’t. I can’t. And believe me, I’ve thought about it a lot.

I look at Leila and watch her play or concentrate and my heart overflows and I think Surely, I could never love anyone else the way I love you. And then I look at Alena, sometimes on the same day, sometimes not, and she smiles at me and the glint in her eyes sparks joy in my heart and she tells me something in her squeaky voice and I melt and think, Surely, I could never love anyone else the way I love you.

And it’s true, each moment as sincere as the other. Because I don’t love them the same, I can’t love them the same. They are different people, we have different relationships. But to compare, to evaluate which is better, which is more? Why? Why not just accept and cherish that equal does not have to mean the same.

Why limit the definition of love? Why put myself through the heartache of wondering who I’d choose if I had to? (A choice I Could. Not. Make.) Choosing one daughter over another would be like choosing one parent over another. I don’t love my mom more than my dad, or vice versa. I have very different relationships with both of them, but I can’t define that as less vs. more.

The day Leila was born, my heart exploded with love. The day Alena was born my heart exploded all over again. Why limit it? Why assume that “love” is a finite amount that must be rationed out?

Some days, Alena drives me crazy. She pulls and hits and yells at me and any attempt at discipline is met with a heart-wrenching wail of I MISS DADDY!!! when he gets home, she ignore me for the rest of he evening.

Some days, Leila drives me crazy. She’s demanding and bossy and instigates arguments with her sister, then denies it. She whines the entire day and anything. She complains about anything I try to feed her.

But never, ever do I confuse my level of frustration with the amount of love in my heart.

One Comment on “(A Mother’s) Love is a Pair a Muddy Mittens

  1. Yes – I agree; I had a really visceral reaction to that piece – a very negative one. I thought it was quite selfish to write it. Even if you feel that, why broadcast it on the Internet? Once it’s out there, it’s there forever, for her daughter to read someday. I also hated her follow-up piece. She said something along the lines of “Many of you didn’t like this because you were defensive and have felt the same things.” Nope, sorry, never felt that way. Differing levels of frustration – yes. Different levels of love? No.

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