Last night I had a lengthy text conversation with a woman I met once. We met at a college student acceptance day, the first for both of our first-born sons, where we had connected at lunch. Over salad, pasta, and bottled soda, we shared concerns, pride, worry, and wonder with the hope that our sons might walk this new road together. After all, they seemed eerily to be of the same temperament, had similar interests, and, it goes without saying, seriously involved mothers. As it turns out, her son is attending a different school, but last night we shared our good wishes, insights and connections we each had gained so far on this firstborn-goes-to-college journey. As mothers watching our boys go, we are helping in smaller and softer ways now, maybe offering them a name or an idea where we used to offer hard-core direction, and that is as it should be. But it left me thinking about this unique ability and desire of mothers to know and serve their children while connecting with each other like the best and most efficient network in the world. Using our eighteen-year old mother’s intuition, this stranger and I felt instantly that our boys were the same kind of kid, but how did we know? And why did we feel so free to express it?
On the same day, I connected over social media with another woman whom I met never. She attended the same performance of Hamilton with her son that I attended with my daughter, and it was life-changing for all four of us. The intense experience linked us but we also innately felt as though our kids would connect with each other, though they live in completely different parts of the country, and have a couple of years between them. We both laughed and said, well… maybe someday, and wished each other well. But there was that mother’s intuition again, and that complete willingness to reach out, share, and connect on behalf of our children.
All mothers have experienced this same energy in smaller, less weird ways. We link up on soccer fields and field trips, finding ourselves commiserating and validating at school concerts and birthday parties. We want to join in, help, and learn from each other, and we do, sometimes to our children’s horror and sometimes to their great advantage. I have seen mothers do this many, many times and have seen fathers do it almost never. (The rare exception being, of course, the kind of networking it takes to get certain kids on certain sports teams, but because that kind of thing is ultimately serving the dad and not really the child, I don’t count it in the same category.)
As I was thinking of it last night, I determined that the energy and will of a mother is just simply close to the heart of God. Quietly (or not so quietly) piecing things together, making opportunities happen, pulling strings, laying groundwork …this is the work of creation, really. As Hamilton (or at least the show version of him) said,
“Legacy. It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
More and more, that’s what mothering feels like these days. We’re planting a few remaining seeds and beginning to guess at the color and shape of what will come up, at how they will bloom and grow. That guessing, coupled with our experience, is the root of all mother’s intuition and I imagine it grows stronger with time. These poor kids, they don’t know how good they have it. (And if that young man from lunch ends up being Brian’s best man at his wedding, or if Maura ends up marrying a nice young man from North Carolina, don’t say I never told you so…)