by Kris Kahrs
(The following will be performed at the Listen To Your Mother Show, May 1st, 2011, 3pm at The Rosenthal Theater, Inner City Arts, Downtown Los Angeles.)
When I became a mother, I had an epiphany. The epiphany was that mother-love is fierce. I want to say strong or powerful, but that’s not right. It’s not just strong. It’s not just wicked strong. It’s not just “lift-a-car-over-your-head” strong. It’s fierce. The second definition of fierce in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: marked by unrestrained zeal or vehemence. Bingo.
Mother-love transforms me. It is my Fierceness. My son is the catalyst. Like the Hulk, transformed by extreme emotion, I become something unrecognizable to myself. The fierceness opens up depths in me I never knew existed. Every feeling I have is exponential to the power of 10. Like a superhero, I have x-ray vision. Babies, kids, toddlers all looked ordinary before. When I look at a toddler now, I see **God** sitting there in the pink tutu, shoveling sand into her shoes. With the runny nose, jelly in her hair and shirt on backwards, she is flawless.
My desire to protect my son (Hulk want to smash) can be overwhelming and hard to repress. When I see him struggle to join a playground group or his offer to play is ignored by another, I want to swoop down and save the day. Knowing I can’t do this, knowing that I must indeed watch him do it on his own, hoping somehow this will ultimately be character building, is the most exquisite of tortures.
The Fierceness comes with a superhero heart. It swells to impossible sizes. It cannot be possible for a human heart to stretch with this much love. There are times when I look at my son and I know my heart will burst and I’m glad I signed the organ donor card in my wallet. But it does not. He puts his so-small hand in mine and says in that voice that still sounds more like a baby’s than a boy’s, “Mommy, hold my hand” and I feel it stretch even further. My son says to me, “I love you more” and in a moment of creepy truth, I think to him, I would die for you, but instead, I pick him up, inhale his soft smell and croon, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Until he says, “o.k., you’re hurting me.”
The Fierceness has imbued me with super strength. I am stronger than the bleaching action of Crest Whitestrips and I kick more butt than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My son was born 6,083 miles away from me. When he came here, he had two holes patched: one in his heart and one in his abdomen. Now he lifts the Death Star in one hand. He is mighty. This makes me strong. I throw myself in the path of oncoming school administrators who complain about the way he talks, the way he writes, the pictures he draws. I shield him with my body to protect him from their pre-occupation with his coloring outside the lines. I even perform my anti-judgment Jedi mind trick saying, “Relax. It’s only Kindergarten and it’s kinda a miracle he’s here.”
Yet at times, despite all of these super powers, I doubt. I think this is a huge responsibility. One for which I may not be entirely prepared. It seems this is a job better suited to a weird clone thingy of Word Girl and Supernanny than a woman who thinks her cat needs glasses. How will I ever do this? He is a gift. He is so fresh from God. At my best, I will never be good enough. Then I hear, “Moommmmyyyy, I peed on the floor” and The Fierceness grabs some paper towels to go clean it up.