Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When Does Momma Love Start?

I'll admit.  I am a little afraid of the reaction of this post.  But, I know I would have felt better having heard this almost 9 years ago when my oldest child was born.  So, here goes nothing.

I didn't have that overwhelming "Momma Love" when my children were born.  Nor did I feel it upon seeing my child's adoption referral picture.  For each of my children it took a few weeks for that overwhelming, all-encompassing, extreme feeling to kick in.

Yes, I did love them.  But more in an abstract kind of way.  I loved the idea of them.  I loved them generically.  I felt like I didn't have "real" mother love for them.

And with my first child, this terrified me.  I was afraid I had made a terrible mistake and that I was an awful mother and that my poor little baby would be stuck with a horrible mom for the rest of her life.  I thought I would have to fake the mommy love for the rest of my life.

Nobody told me I might love steadily and gradually.  But, that love that makes me sniffle at those sad country songs where daddies sing about their little girls growing up, that has kept Hallmark in business, and is involved in half the plots of Lifetime Television for Women movies crept up on me within a few weeks.

Once I felt that love for my child, I could no longer watch "Kids in Danger" type movies.  I actually pulled over and cried after hearing a particularly awful story about kids on NPR.  I got it.  And not only did I feel this incredible bond with my child, but I also felt an amazing empathy and love for mothers and children everywhere.  

Fortunately, once I knew I was capable of this, the gradual love build-up with my other children wasn't nearly so scary.  I knew the feelings would come once I learned all about this little treasure I was entrusted with.  With every cute expression, every personality quirk, every smell of their little heads I loved them more.

So why share this now?

The typical adoption narrative includes a prospective adoptive parent seeing a picture of a child and experiencing overwhelming parent love filling up their hearts.  The typical birth story includes immediate bonding at least by the time the baby's body leaves the birth canal, if not sooner.   I wanted to share my experience so that others who may not feel that intense love initially won't freak out like I did years ago with the birth of my oldest. 

To be clear, there was obvious excitement and joy involved with seeing my children's beautiful faces for the first time.  And, with our adoption, my anticipation grew with each day I waited to hold her in my arms.  But the mommy love wasn't quite there yet.  It was more that my mother's heart was ready to expand to love them.

I think every time I learn more about what makes each of my children a special and unique creation of God my love grows.  Every time I put their needs ahead of my own I my momma heart grows.

And then when I wasn't looking, Poof!  That unique love was there.  And the love grew just the same once I held my children, all my children.  There isn't adoptive love and biological love.  Its just love.  I am grateful to be at that stage with all my children now.

So, I'm sharing this for all the other parents waiting for their children or with new little ones in their family.  Its okay if the Momma Love is immediate, like a lightning bolt.  But its also okay if it is more gradual, like a sunrise.  Both are beautiful, powerful and illuminating.  The speed of your love does not correlate with the depth of your love. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post! I can relate!