The bond between a parent and child is quite simply incredible. Mothers and fathers routinely put themselves on the line for their kids in varying degrees every day of the week. From the seemingly small things, like pacing a floor with a sick or upset baby, to the truly immense acts of bravery, the fundamental bond between parent and child is unbreakable. Yet I don’t think I ever fully understood its magnitude until I became a parent myself.
Last week the world was shaken again by yet another horrifying terror attack right at the heart of one of Europe’s thriving tourist-loved cities, when a car ploughed into crowds of people on Las Ramblas in the centre of Barcelona. It’s a street myself and my husband walked down hand in hand years ago before we were married and the realisation that it could have been us with our baby boy in this pram chilled me to the bone. As I sat teary eyed listening to the names of the victims, I heard how a 35-year-old father of two Bruno Gullotta was tragically killed in the attack and how his wife Martina managed to pull their 5-year-old boy who was walking with his daddy at the time, to safety. Both parents managed to save their small children without a thought for themselves. Thankfully Martina survived, but these two kids will now grow up without their father.
It got me thinking about that fundamental bond we have with our children. When I was a child, I can remember my mum saying things to me like; ‘Niamh you could rob a bank and I’d still love you,’ in that very lovely Irish mammy sort of way. I didn’t really think too much on it at the time or comprehend the profound and deep love it required to say and mean something like that. To me, it was one of those semi-embarrassing lovely-dovey things your parents would often say to you. Like when they’d beam with pride at my performance in the school play, when in reality I was hammier than a tin of spam. Or when they’d say my hair was gorgeous, when truthfully I’d made the biggest hack of it by trying to use my new crimper to get the latest look from Bliss or Big Magazine (yes, I’m showing my age now!) But no matter what, they’ve always had my back in a way that’s quite unquantifiable and I truly believe if I had of robbed that bank, that they’d still love me.
Often, pregnant first-time mums-to-be will be bombarded by articles, blogs and social media posts from women who are busy gushing over the instant bond with have newborns, declaring ‘they didn’t know love like this was possible.’ Sometimes it happens that way, but for many it can take a little longer for those ‘celestial trumpets’ to descend from on high. Unfortunately, I was in the latter camp. Indeed, it took me some weeks to fully start to bond with my baby, due to my horrendous experience of post-natal anxiety and depression. But when I did manage to get through that hell-filled haze of hormones and sadness, the level of deep love I began to feel for my baby boy was something I don’t think I was quite ready for.
Even as a writer, I don’t think I’ve got the words to truly express how I feel about him and I suspect every parent feels this way. It’s this all-consuming love that has a hold on you at the very core of your being. Simply put, it’s the most overwhelming, inspiring, intoxicating, and unquantifiable feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life and as I watched the all too familiar events unfold in Barcelona, I shuddered inside at the thoughts of Martina and Bruno Gullotta who made the ultimate sacrifice for their children. Yet I knew that if it were me, or you, or any other parent who had been put in their position, they’d do the exact same thing without a moment’s hesitation.
I now understand how a parents love is just that strong.