Motherly Collective

When I had my twins, I was 26 years old—a young mother by today’s standards. I had no idea what to expect, no idea what was going to hit me.

They came early after a 20-day stay in the hospital, months of bedrest and a high-risk pregnancy that pushed me to the brink on many occasions. And then, they were here, a boy and a girl. Tiny, only 5 pounds each, but perfect, healthy, beautiful.

It’s impossible to describe that feeling when they’re first placed in your arms. Impossible to describe the cascading love, responsibility and fierceness that came over me that day.

Weeks after they were born, my husband and I put them to sleep in the bassinets next to our bed, close to me so I could wake several times a night to feed and change them. They were still so small, so fragile that I was always on alert, always ready to pick them up when they cried, hand on their stomachs to make sure they were still breathing if they let me sleep too long.

I was exhausted like I had never been before. My body was going through a hormonal shift, healing and producing milk for two infants. When I got in bed, I cried. I tried to be quiet because before then I wasn’t a crier at all, actually. But the truth was that I wasn’t a lot of the things that I was before I was a mother. As a mother, I was someone entirely different. Someone forever changed into this person with this unbreakable tie to two new humans.

The need to protect them that is baked into us, ingrained in the very fabric of who we are.

My husband held me and told me to just cry, and I did. I remember asking him if it was too much for him, if he felt overwhelmed with the amount of love that he had for them. Because that’s what I was feeling. I felt the crushing weight of loving them so much, of that responsibility to protect them, to keep them safe, that I felt like I was going to combust. It’s different for me, he said.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love them more than anything, because he did, but my husband, the most avid outdoorsman I know, understands and respects motherhood. It’s nature, he’d said to me. He had witnessed it over and over again, deep in the woods, a connection that all mothers have to their children—the need to protect them that is baked into us, ingrained in the very fabric of who we are.

The intensity of that feeling never really goes away when you’re a mother. For me, it’s only increased with time. It’s changed the way I see the world, the way I see threats everywhere.

I’m always looking out for danger around me, always aware of a person who looks too long at me or my kids. Constantly sizing myself up against potential threats or situations, forming quick plans in my head. And maybe that’s not healthy. Maybe it’s not politically correct to say that if you put me in a room with someone who would harm my children, that I would bet on myself every single time. But it’s true. It’s something that is so powerful that it feels futile to even try to describe it to someone who doesn’t truly understand.

I think of it, of the power of that tie, every time I turn on the news and see a mother in a war-torn country, crossing borders so that their kids can live. What would I do if I were like them? If I weren’t born into the privilege of being an American? Anything—I would do anything.

Motherhood is something that seems perpetually under attack, something to be questioned, scrutinized, judged by strangers on the internet. It seems like everywhere I turn, society finds more and more ways to trivialize what a mother is or simplify what it is they do. To me, though, being a mother is the most unshakeable, sure and powerful part of myself.

The truth is this: the lengths to which I would go to protect my children are limitless. It’s almost otherworldly, divine.

That’s how I would describe it to someone who doesn’t understand, and even still, that’s not good enough. Not sufficient to help someone comprehend what it means to be a mother, what it means to love and protect someone the way I have since the day they were placed in my arms.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.