Is that something moms universally say? Or was it just mine?
She said it when she wouldn't let me do something that I thought I was adult enough to do. She said it when I complained that she was coddling my younger brother or sister far more than she would have coddled me. And I would say back, "Whatever, when I have kids I'll let them fall on their face and make mistakes and take risks sometimes so that they'll learn. I understand just fine."
Since this weekend is Mother's Day, I think it might be time to say it: I didn't understand.
I didn't understand how I would worry over each cough in the middle of the night. How the thought of anyone or anything seriously hurting him would make it hard to breathe.
I didn't understand the restraint it would take to let him fall down every now and then when he tries to run too fast. To tell him, "no" and have to watch his lips tremble as he lets out a wail. To walk that very fine line between wanting all the good things in the world for him and turning him into a spoiled brat.
I didn't understand that suddenly his tiny accomplishments--learning to parrot a new cute phrase, walking into school by himself--would bring me such pride. That the moment that he catches sight of me at the end of the day would become something I anxiously look forward to all afternoon, every afternoon.
I think most of us can intellectually talk about the infinite love between parent and child, but until you're there, you can't fully get it. If you have a kid, you know exactly what I'm saying. And if you don't, well, someday if you have kids, you'll understand.
These days, I think I do understand. And from that place, I'm sure she'll understand when I say, "Thanks Mom--I love you!"