“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
― Elizabeth Stone
A few wispy clouds leisurely make their way across the cornflower blue of a late summer sky. I’ve ridden my pony, petted the dog, fiddled with the velcro fastening of my shoes, and climbed over the middle of a gate. Despite knowing it is a cardinal sin in our family, good citizens always climb a gate near the hinges. Or better yet, they do not climb over gates at all. I am bored, ready to go to the house and eat peanut butter and jelly. I am done with the barn for the day. Mom is not. Through the dusty haze, I see her executing perfect circles on horseback. She is a craftsman, with tortured attention to detail, as she readies her mare for cow horse competitions.
This seemingly endless exercise in horsemanship finally draws to a close. Satisfied with their partnership, she rewards Ruby with a pat on neck and dismounts. From beneath her signature broad-brimmed ball cap, my mom beckons me to her side. As a treat, she lifts me into her saddle for ride to the barn. Without warning, the world becomes a blur, and my three-year-old body is in a heap on the ground. Ruby stands a few feet away, her eyes-wide, her nostrils flared. Before I can process what has happened, my mother has fallen to her knees and swept me into her arms. As the shock wears off, I begin to cry around a mouthful of red-brown dirt. Behind her glasses, Mom is crying too, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” More indignant than injured, I begin patting my mommy’s shoulder. We are both shaken. Despite the scare, I am utterly aware that I am loved.
This incident shapes my earliest childhood memory. It is etched into my brain, the physical details so strongly embedded in my mind that I can show you the exact spot the Ruby incident occurred. However strong the physical details of that day remain, the intensity of my mother’s emotion is a stronger memory. Despite the indignation of a mouthful of dirt, I’d always felt my mother had overreacted. Then nine-years-ago this month, I became a mommy myself.
I didn’t choose parenthood, it chose me. It was a difficult adjustment, but from the first moment I held my son, my life has changed in the best possible ways. In comparison to my journey to motherhood, his transition from a beautiful baby into surprising big boy seems sudden. I understand the ferocity of my mother’s love and know the fear she felt at that moment thirty years ago. My son and I have had our share of ‘Ruby’ moments, I am certain there will be more. Despite this, I am grateful for the blessing of motherhood. Our children, as independent and individual as they maybe, will always be a part of us.