Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fierce Devotion

Have you ever watched a mother animal defend her babies against some kind of intruder or trouble-maker? A mother duck, for instance, will fight fearlessly to protect her ducklings. Living next to a lake littered with multiple sets of new ducklings, I've seen it happen many times in the past few weeks. Being a mother for a mere seven months, I have a lot to learn about mothering. But this fierce devotion seems to be present in every mother, and oftentimes in women who have no children of their own. After giving birth to Elisheva by means of an unplanned Cesarean section, I can't say that I really felt like a mother right away. It took some time for the reality to sink in. Gradually, it became my new identity: mother. I was now responsible for feeding, comforting, and caring for another life, and it is a great responsibility indeed.

Recalling those first days home from the hospital with a newborn, it seemed more like a dream at the time, probably because of the pure emotion combined with lack of sleep! Getting used to having a baby in the bedroom (The first night home, I remember being able to hear nothing but a screaming baby in my head, even when she was asleep!), and listening intently in the dark to every sound she made, trying to decipher what she was doing or if she needed something. If she even moved ever so slightly in the bassinet, I would wake up. My husband lovingly told me that it was a gift from G-d for mothers, because he slept right through it. I had developed overnight a new radar, and all of my senses were focused on one tiny baby girl. When a baby is born, a mother is as well.

If you have experienced a C-section, you know how difficult it is to lie down flat on a bed afterwards. I thought I was ready to go home from the hospital until I realized that I would have to sleep in the recliner because I lacked a hospital bed in my bedroom! There were no buttons to push me up or lie me down, no red button to push for help, no nurse.... but I did have a husband. He had to lie me down and help me up so that I would not have to use any abdominal muscles. One night I awoke out of a dead sleep to Elisheva's coughing, and before my brain could even register anything, I was up and standing next to her bed. It was only after that I realized I couldn't get up like that. You've heard about bumblebees: they can't fly because of their body proportions, but nobody tells them they can't fly, so they fly. Well, nobody told me I couldn't move like that with staples in my stomach, so I did, and I didn't feel a thing... because I thought something was wrong with my baby. There was no room for other thoughts in my mind at that time. I have a sneaking suspicion that no one would attempt to tell that mother duck that she can't fight off whatever it is that is too close to her ducklings. She's a mother with a mother's instinct. She's going to fight.

Mothers are gifted with amazing abilities. They are beautiful pictures of G-d's loving kindness, His gentleness, comfort, nourishment, and compassion.... and they burn with His fierce devotion.

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