When I flew by myself last month, I scored a seat in the emergency exit row, with all of its leg room and responsibility.
The flight attendant came by to make sure I could lift the 50-pound door.
"I'm a mother,'' I said. "I could lift a 3,000-pound car if I needed to.''
I believe that.
Mothering has made me strong and fierce. It has showed me just how much mettle I've got and I am not sure I ever would have really known what was in there were it not for this child of mine, this child who pushes and pulls me toward myself and inspired me with her own daily strength.
She came to me only after years of infertility and then only after a labor so long it even exhausted the midwives. Maria pushed me to grow, to be strong, even before she got here.
I'm thinking about all of this, of course, because it will be Mother's Day this weekend. My fifth as a Mami.
And, I realize that this job of mothering also has made me feel weak in ways I never imagined. It has made me look at my shortcomings and strive to change them. I have learned I cannot force the gods to make sure my child always will be safe and happy. What a terrifying realization. News stories about children in pain strike my heart much more deeply than they ever did, and I am someone, who as a journalist, often wrote about tragedy and loss and quickly moved on to the next. The stories didn't mess with my head as much then. So, raising Maria has expanded my heart, strengthened my faith and forced me to admit vulnerability, to entrust her fate to something bigger than myself.
So while this Sunday is about celebrating mothers, I have to say I feel Mother's Day is about celebrating my child, because without her I would not be led into the places -- joyous, miraculous and even the difficult -- that have enriched my life and my soul and made me a woman so fierce I truly believe I could lift a 3,000-pound car.