Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to those who know how vast and deep and wide a mother’s love can be.

And Happy Mother’s Day to my own Mama, who still teaches me about this kind of love.

                                            Sea of Mother Love
                                                            Shawnelle Eliasen

The summer sun toasted my shoulders as I pushed my little boy on the swing. My friend, Angie, and I were at the play park. She stood behind the swings, too, and pushed her own little blond son. Both of our bellies were round with babies. I was due to deliver my second child any day, and her delivery was just a few weeks behind.

“Do you ever wonder,” I asked. “If you’ll be able to love another child like you love the one you already have?” It was a bold question, one that I hoped seemed more lighthearted than it was, due to the sunshine and the laughter of the little boys and the creek of the old, metal swings. But the truth was, I’d been pondering the question for months. I wondered if I could summon enough love. And I felt guilty for wondering.

Angie’s arms dropped to her sides and she let the swing coast on momentum. Her green eyes welled with tears. “Yes,” she said. “I do wonder.”

“Oh,” I said. It was a tender moment of mom-confession. I let my son’s swing coast, too. Angie and I took a seat on the grass. “It’s just that I love Logan so much. It’s like when he was born, my heart transformed to this sea of emotion, more deep and wide than I could ever imagine. I’m scared of not having that again.”

“I understand,” Angie said. “I worry about that, too.”

We were silent for a moment. Then our little boys leaped from their swings. Logan rushed toward me and wrapped his summer-brown arms around my neck. “Will you push us on the merry-go-round?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said.

I stood slowly, one hand on my belly. The tiny bundle rolled under my touch. I loved this child already. But would it be the same? I wondered as Logan clasped my hand in his and pulled me across the green grass.

Later that night, after we’d tucked Logan in bed, my husband and I sat on our porch swing. There was a twinge of cool in the mid-June night, and Lonny’s arm slipped around my shoulders.

“It won’t be long, now,” Lonny said. “Are you ready to be a new mommy again?”

“Ready,” I said. I swallowed hard. “Hey, do you remember when Logan was born?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said.

“What I mean is, do you remember when you first held him in your arms? When I first held Logan, I thought my heart would break. He was so still and peaceful. So gentle. Do you remember his thick, black hair? Remember his long, tapered fingers? When he first opened his eyes, it felt like nothing else in the world. There was some new connection that ran from that baby to the center of my soul.”

“Love,” Lonny said, simply. “It was a new kind of love.”

I snuggled into Lonny’s arms and wrapped my own arms around my middle. I hoped that there was enough of that new kind of love to stretch over our growing family.

By mid-morning of the next day, it was obvious that our world was about to change. We prepared to leave for the hospital when labor pains were consistent. Before I settled into the van, I caught Logan by the hand pulled him close to me. I knelt down, the best I could, and I whispered into his ear.

“I love you, Logan. It’s time to go to the hospital. We’re going to meet our new baby,” I said.

He looked up at me with wide eyes. “I love you, too, Mama.”

I pulled him to my chest and felt his little heart beat against mine.

Later in the afternoon, our second child was born. I immediately heard the wail of a babe. The cry was fierce. It was filled with passion.

I caught the first glimpse of my second son as Dr. Donnelly held him for me to see. The babe’s tiny arms were curled to his chest. His fists were clenched. His little face was bunched and scarlet as his mouth opened and closed to swallow his first gulps of breath.

Within seconds the squalling, tiny boy was wrapped in soft, blue flannel and was placed in my arms. I pulled the blanket back to drink all the details of my son. His hair was strawberry blonde. His features were round. Even his hands were different from Logan’s. I slipped my finger into his curled fist, and he squeezed tight.

Then I pulled his blanket back and held him to my heart. His tiny chest quit heaving and the fierce cry subsided into a few long, hard gasps.

My son.

I held him tight. He’d just come from my body, but it seemed that when I held him close, he pulled back into a part of me. And he had. That tiny little boy, in all his newborn fury, settled deep into my heart.

It didn’t take long to realize that this newly created person was completely different from my firstborn son. His labor was different. His birth was different. He looked nothing like his brother, and within the first moments of his life, I knew that his personality was all his own, too.

And I had never seen anything more lovely. His zest. His zeal. Apparent at his very first breath.

We named our second little boy Grant. And with Grant’s grand arrival, the question in my heart disappeared. Could I love another child as much as I loved my first?

Absolutely. Immediately. My soul was filled with peace.

The hours rolled by that day, I was anxious to share my son. Angie was the first friend to visit and to meet our newborn babe. As she sat beside my bed with her hand on her round tummy, I longed to tell her what I’d discovered. I didn’t. I knew the truth was not something that another mother could share.

A mother’s heart is a sea of love, and it is deep and wide enough for all.

But that truth, like a sweet, second son, needed to be born.

(As printed in Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms)






  1. Beautiful story, Shawnelle. So honest and captivating! Wonderful! And Happy Mother's Day to you too!

  2. Thank you, BJ. And Happy Mother's Day to you too, beautiful friend:)

  3. Sweet story. I get it. I love it.