When I think about my life, and I compare the things I’d hoped to accomplish with the things I have actually done, I realize that by most standards I am quite ordinary. I did not coach a world champion. I never got around to writing that next great American novel. I never made it to law school. In fact, all of my plans were abruptly interrupted when I became a mother. This caught me off guard. I never expected to become the stay-at-home-queen-of-the carpool-uber-volunteer that I am today. I am Mama, Mommy, Mom, and at times Maaahh-uuum (hold syllables for three seconds each and add eye roll and over-exaggerated inhale and exhale through mouth for effect). One would consider my job is, well, nothing short of ordinary. I wouldn’t trade it.
Pat and I had been married for six years when, tipping the scales at 189 pounds (roughly 70 pounds over my normal fighting weight and no I never hit 190), I gave birth to our first child: a baby boy. That was nearly two decades ago, and still whenever I reminisce about the day Christian was born it unleashes a wellspring of emotions in me. I remember one particular morsel of self-discovery from that day with such intense clarity, it seems as if it happened only yesterday. With one push (ok maybe it was more like three or four pushes plus 20 or so hours of heavy labor preceded by nine months of morning sickness and hemorrhoids, but you get the picture), I realized something that I’d never known before. Somewhere deep inside my sanctity-of-life-respecting soul, a savage beast lay sleeping. You see, in the very instant the doctor delivered my baby and handed him to me, I suddenly and with unexpected certainty knew something I had never known before. I was (and am) capable of killing another human being. Yes, indeed as I gazed into Christian’s eyes I thought, “If anyone, anyone, tries to harm you I will kill him.” Four years later, I nestled in my arms another son, mere milliseconds from the womb. Again that protective instinct erupted in me and in those few, pre-APGAR, private moments between mother and infant, I made the same silent promise to Jared as I had to Christian, “If anyone, anyone, tries to harm you, I will kill him.”
Perhaps hormones should be held accountable for this murderous instinct in an otherwise normal woman. Perhaps I simply am a raving lunatic. Perhaps, but I assure you I am not alone. At first, I really thought that the intensity of my response to giving birth was unique to me. Surely no other mother loved her children as much as I loved mine. There was something extraordinary about me and I was sure of it.
Since then, I have spent countless hours at playgrounds, in carpool lines, and volunteering at school functions. I’ve spent a lifetime of arriving 30 minutes early to sporting events, school plays, and band concerts (the agenda for which, I shamelessly admit, is to insure positioning in such a way as to snap the perfect photograph or capture the perfect video). I have done all of these things in the company of my mother colleagues. While I can’t calculate the actual amount of time I’ve spent in mom-to-mom contact and conversations, I am certain it is enough to have accumulated several volumes of anecdotal evidence confirming this universal mother-truth: IF YOU HURT OUR BABIES WE WILL KILL YOU. Whether from the benign threats of the schoolyard bully, to the most heinous misdeeds of the pedophile, or anything in between, we mothers do what it takes to protect our children from harm. We do it with complete disregard for our own health, safety, and (I’m afraid) dignity. There is nothing particularly special or heroic about what mothers do. We all do it. It’s ordinary which in and of itself makes motherhood simply extraordinary.
And so it is with all of this in mind that I ponder this question, Mr. ABC Television Executive. Why Kate Gosselin and not ME?