As the kids have grown, I've learned that the sense of quickening is just a prelude to what is to come. I've learned that the sensation moves up the body to the heart the moment the child is placed in your arms. I've learned that those maternal feelings aren't limited to those who quicken in your womb; but are true for any child placed in your care. That flutter, both amazing and frightening stirs the deepest sense of responsibility we may ever know. It's there as our little ones cling to our leg when we drop them off at school. It's there when they take to the playground, climbing with abandon and the first time they come off the school bus with their little faces tear streaked because their feelings were hurt. The heart quickens as our children make choices about their friends, as they're faced with moral and ethical dilemmas. The heart knows when they are 10 minutes late for curfew. It flip flops the first time they appear so grown up, then make a face or gesture that shows their true age. Those little butterfly wings dance with the joys of proms and weddings, and beat with fear when a child faces a serious illness.
All these years later, I reflect on waiting for a feeling I believed was temporary. I understand now that quickening isn't fleeting. It begins when a child enters your heart, and ends when you die. There is no end to the desire to protect, to correct, to praise, and to downright enjoy the company of the most precious people you'll ever know. There is no manual you can read, no seminar you can attend that can even partially prepare you for what is to come. For all that I didn't sign up for, for all that remains a mystery, for all that has been and all that is to come, I am grateful.