There are moments when the future rushes in and you are suddenly faced with the reality of time passing. As I watched my best friend since third grade care for her newborn baby yesterday, the proverbial wind was knocked out of me. Megan, the little freckle-faced girl with whom I used to choreograph Madonna dances, ride bikes through Monument Valley Park, and cry on the phone from our respective colleges is now a mother, and a damn natural and inspiring one at that.
It made me think a lot about the invisible and profound transition between non-mother and mother. Megan has always been maternal, always loved babies and cared for them naturally. (We had a co-owned babysitting business as tweens; we would take good care of the kids, but our favorite part was when they would go to bed and we would raid the kitchen and watch movies till the parents got home.) But it was still wild to see her as an actual mother, to see her both exhausted and overjoyed by the prospect of being responsible for her little fella for the rest of their lives. I feel a fraction of that responsibility for him, by virtue of being so close to his momma, but I know it is nothing in comparison to what she feels.
Is this what makes women mothers–a sense of eternal responsibility, the deepest possible manifestation of our interdependence? Babies are so incredibly helpless. As I would sit with baby C in my arms, feeding him a bottle, or experiencing him nuzzling into my armpit and falling fast asleep, I was so aware of how fragile and helpless he is, how completely dependent he is on Megan. And in turn, I was humbled by how courageous and committed she is to be embarking on this journey of raising another human being.
If feminism is, at heart, about recognizing our interdependence and fighting for the care and consideration of others, it makes even more sense to me why people so often frame mothering as a radical feminist act.