I was a history major in college. The way the world has arrived at the place it is now, the causes and effects, the victors and the victims, the passive people and the active, their environments and thoughts and words, all of it fascinates me. I ate it all up, jumping from book to book like a frog on lily pads. I could read all about the triumphs and tragedies of mankind and come away from it with my mind lit up like a flame, the fire set and smoldering by the spark of curiosity and knowledge colliding. It was all a fascination, a sense of satisfaction for my minds cravings and it still is, but it’s different now.
It’s different because I’m a mom. When I became a mom, a trail was blazed deep and long and wide between my heart and my mind. The two cannot be separated. You’ve heard the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” Well for a mom, all roads lead to the heart.
Because of that, I can’t look at war and oppression and tragedy with an objective perspective anymore. There’s no possible way for me to read about all that’s wrong with human history and human present and then just tuck it away like a book on a shelf.
All I think now is: That was someone’s child.
Someone’s child who was harmed and battered. Someone’s baby who was forced into oppression. A mother had to watch and grieve as that happened to her child. The same mother who spent months sheltering that person inside her body, who came to terms with the stretch marks, and the sacrifice and the weight of love that is incomparable, had to witness that. That was the product of all of her investment. All of the days she spent hoping and dreaming and loving, and loving, and loving some more, culminated in utter heartbreak.
I think these same things when I see the ordinary hurts that happen each day. I wonder how the mother of the bullied child or the child with no friends sleeps at night. I can’t even watch movies where bad things happen to people anymore because I simply can’t stop the thoughts and images that start in my brain from bolting down the road to my heart, the one that was carved by the hands of my children.
Once those images have been converted from scenes on a screen or facts from the news or a book to images of mother’s crying over the pain of their children, I can’t help but feel utter sadness and panic at the thought of how that feels. How that would feel if it were me.
Maybe this is dramatic, or much too sensitive. Maybe it’s the embodiment of worry. But maybe it’s something else, something that is altogether powerful.
Maybe the transformation that comes from motherhood is one that ushers in empathy. Empathy that can change the world.
What if we saw this for what it is? The power to feel what others feel, to understand that every person is someone’s person, and the impact of hurting them would have far greater affects than we could ever know.
Actually, we would know because we’re moms. We know how it would feel to be pierced with our children’s anguish and sorrow. We can imagine how the mother of the soldier or the bullied or the refugee or the lonely is feeling. We can put ourselves in their shoes because we all wear the same size; the size of love that can’t be measured.
What if we saw this soft spot as power? Power to look at the pain in the world through a mom’s eyes.
Moms have the power of empathy. It’s a power because we have the opportunity to do something with it. We can teach our kids to look at others like the treasure they are to someone else. We can train them not to see an enemy where someone’s child stands and an object where there is a heart. We can train them not to take people for granted because what lies in everyone is the sum of someone’s heart, and love and hopes and dreams.
We can turn that soft spot deep within our hearts into a place of strength because we are the people-makers, the heart-molders, the generation-shapers. We have the power to instill within our children the ability to love others over themselves. We can blaze a trail from their minds to their hearts and pack it down tight with our love.
May our children be moved by the softness within us. May they be marked with empathy.
Kelsey Lasher is a wife and stay-at-home mom in her home state of Colorado. She is unapologetically passionate about little people in footy pajamas and the women who are raising them. You can find her blogging about all of this on her personal blog, whilewemother.com or pick up her debut novel, Where Our Stories Leave Us, releasing this September.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Hello, Dearest. If you didn’t get a copy and would like your own, you can subscribe to get Hello, Dearest in your mailbox every season. If you subscribe, forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll shoot a copy of the current issue in the mail to you for free … just because we like you.