This article originally appeared on the Today Show Parenting Team blog.
I was planning a friend’s baby shower recently when I came across this beautiful quote from author Elizabeth Stone. It said, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
When I read that, it all made sense. Whoosh! That explains why as a mom, everything has a heightened sense of emotion, good and bad. My daughter Channing not only has my heart, she is my heart. Everything my husband and I have been through for the past 3 years is felt more intensely because we are so deeply connected to her. I’ve always loved her but this quote helped me to visualize exactly what that love looks like.
This is a hard thing for me to admit in front of the millions of people lining up to read my post, but my daughter is my Achilles heel. Don’t tell anyone! Let’s try to keep it between us. Can you imagine if Achilles had told the Trojans about his weak heel? The one spot that if damaged would mean his death? No brave warrior in their right mind would admit to their weakness. Yet here I am, obviously a brave warrior, admitting that my daughter is my weakness. My heart running around outside my body.
But she’s also my strength. I draw strength from being her mom. It stiffens up my spine in the face of adversity because I want to set a good example of what a strong woman looks like. It forces me to try new things because I want her to be adventurous and not afraid of the world around us. It makes me brave and want to step in and help give a voice to the voiceless. See? Doesn’t that sound like a warrior? I never thought having a child would strengthen my spirit and bring down my defenses as much as it has. No wonder parents sometimes feel like they are between emotions. They are!
She is my heart. And I feel it right along with her when she’s sad, angry, or giddy. And the idea of her ever being hurt, or sad makes my chest ache. But I also know that she feels that warrior side of my heart too. The one that will go to battle when necessary and be brave when the time comes. Every time she runs to meet a new friend at the park I think, there goes my heart. When she falls and cries hot tears I think, there goes my heart. And when she looks at me and says, “Mommy, you’re my best friend.” Whoosh… there goes my heart.