May 11, 2010
When I was in college–long before I became a mother–I started nannying for a great family in NYC. My charge, Justine, was just 10 months old when I started watching her, and we became very close over the few years I saw her almost daily. In fact, she and her mom both wrote letters of recommendation for my India dossier when I adopted Rahul. (And Justine is just finishing her freshman year in COLLEGE!)
Anyway, one day when Justine was about 3 or 4 years old, I took her to the playground. And as I sat watching her climb the monkey bars, I noticed another little girl eyeing Justine’s hand. It was right where she wanted to step and instead of asking Justine to move her hand I saw her make the decision to step right on the offending hand! Her eyes narrowed as she put all of her weight on her foot and twisted it back and forth, smushing my little friend’s hand. Justine turned her head toward me and her eyes filled with tears and before I knew it I had leapt off the bench and was snatching Justine off the playground, scolding the hand smusher and racing out of the park. I had no idea what had just taken over my body, but it was a strange, strong force I have come to know as Maternal Protection.
Of course, I have experienced it many times with my son, and I have often been frightened at its strength. It completely takes over your body and you feel as though you could actually cause major damage to someone. I suppose it is an instinct placed in our bodies to protect our young. And on Mother’s Day this year I found myself really moved to understand that God, as our mother (as well as our father) feels this same fierce Maternal Protection over us. There is something extremely comforting and profound in that for me–making me feel both safe and humbled that I get to share in this divine quality.
So I’m giving you fair warning. Do not mess with my kid.