There is something I know. There is something I have always known. We are all aware of it and expected to remember it. We are upheld to its unbearable standard and lost on its whims. We are taught from our birth the sacredness of its certainty and live in fear that we may not meet its standard. It is a secret we mutter under our breaths and a veracity we show fiercely to the world when we must make our voice heard.
We are tiger moms and dragon moms. We might be helicopter moms or free-range moms. We are all moms; and there is something we think we know. There is nothing stronger than a mother’s love for her child. We imagine lifting cars off our children in a crisis, or swimming miles into the sea to save them. We imagine we can teach them everything they need to be successful and that we would battle to our own death to prevent theirs.
Eight years ago, my son was born, struggling to live, and I knew. When I saw that bright-red, fetal baby tucked in bubble wrap, I loved him. I loved him more than I knew I could, and I knew there was nothing stronger than my love for that infant. I knew what he needed. He needed my love and acceptance. He needed a voice.
I have never backed down from what I believe to be right and true. My fervor for social justice has always driven my impulses and led my path. As I walked the path of a NICU mom, I discovered how important my voice was, and how important my voice could be.
We needed a network-a way to connect and share with each other. Other NICU families knew things that typical families did not. I found a community of people who understood my fierce love; my fierce advocating, my exhaustion. I deeply wanted to include others so that no one would feel alone fighting for their child.
The mom who trained me worked hard for me to understand. “It often starts in the NICU,” she said, “but those babies grow up. This lasts forever. Eventually, you all will be parents of older children, and you will still be advocating.”
I came home and I taught other parents to listen to their hearts. To believe there was nothing stronger or more important than their love for their child. Some were fast to believe, and others were still scared they would fail. It took encouragement, and understanding, and it took a lot of time.
My passion continued to grow and I knew. “There is something about these moms. There is no drama. There is only love and support. They know. They get it.”
I found more people who shared my passion and I discovered I was wrong. I discovered it at a jewelry party. I discovered it at Kindermusik. I discovered it at meetings in a small room to talk about swings. I was wrong. There was something stronger than a mother’s love for her child.
I began to spread my wings, and I found moms across the region and across the country who knew the truth. I learned that others saw it. People on the edge of our community could see the truth and they supported it.
I found momentum in this revelation. There was support. Broad support; this could be done. We would share the truth and the truth would make a difference.
Mothers know what their children need. Mothers know. When you have an infant, you learn what their grunt means, what the look in their eyes is. When all else fails, the answer is always the same; when in doubt, just love.
When you have a child with a disability, this becomes clearer. There is less room for bickering, and there is more to know for your child–more to decode. As we grow in our lives as mothers of children with atypical abilities, we know.
When this truth is harnessed by many mothers, all speaking for their children, with unified voices, we will affect society, because we know what our children need. They need love and acceptance and to be included. Together we are even stronger than a mother’s love for her child. We are a mother’s love for her child multiplied exponentially.
When a mother’s love is multiplied, it is stronger than anyone can imagine. We are taught that a mother’s love is the strongest thing in the world, but it turns out, that multiplied and coordinated, it is unbelievably formidable.
On my anniversary of knowing this mighty love–on the day my son turns eight–I remember and I commit. I am reminded of Rosie the Riveter, and I call to the mamas out there to answer the call. We can do it. We can give our children love and acceptance and inclusion. We have the power of love and we can multiply it. This I know.