A new kind of love

Welcome, parents and parents-to-be, to our annual Maternity Issue! It’s such an honor to be able to curate and edit this special edition with its focus on bump, birth and baby. 

Few experiences are as profoundly meaningful as having a child. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to do it justice. Parenthood is as big as it gets — creating (or adopting) a life! 

I didn’t always want to be a mother. For a long time, I figured I’d rather enjoy my career and freewheeling married life. Even when my sister had her first child — a son and literally the cutest thing I’d ever seen — I still wasn’t really interested.

But then came my early 30s and the birth of my best friend’s first child. He was so little, so mysterious, so amazingly new; a member of the next generation, created out of nothing except the love of his two parents. Though until that point, I never really even liked babies, I couldn’t help but feel the incredible meaning behind it all. 

Both my husband and I — by then married more than five years — seemed to think at the exact same time: You know, we’ve kind of done our thing. Let’s do THAT! 

About a year later, we became the proud parents of our own son, who’s been everything we dreamed of — monumentally meaningful, enormously challenging, too. I don’t have enough words to express all the ways in which he broadened our hearts and lives. 

So let me just point out one: When our son came into our world, he instantly connected us to all of humanity in an entirely new way. I suddenly felt like we were in a club, bonded with all mothers and fathers, forever, sharing not just the joys of parenting, but the terrible lows that can occur, too. 

More important, however, I discovered a new and profound connection to my own mother and father — all the love they felt and gave so freely, all the sacrifices they made every day for my sister and me. I also realized all the heartache they endured (and still endure to this day) when we (their babies) struggle. I feel so lucky and loved. And I felt pretty lucky and loved before, so this is saying something. And now I feel that same impossible, almost painful love for my child. 

If you’d like to see what I mean — and you’re up for a good cry — read Amanda Webster’s #Adulting column. In explaining what it feels like to be a “motherless mother” after the death of her mom, she manages to describe what is, for me, the very definition of parental love and how it flows both forward and backward in time.

“In motherhood,” she says, “I know my mother more than ever before.” 

Parental love is so profound it ignores time, cuts through generations and even endures death. Now THAT is as big as it gets — not the having of a child or becoming
a parent — but the powerful love (and universal heartbreak) that comes along with it.