Clare shares how motherhood has turned her into a walking bear-hug who can love for 541 days on the trot. From a series of Story of M.O.M. stories collected for our exhibition Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves by Christina Douyon for the Museum of Motherhood.
I am a mother to a fun-loving, zany and very sensitive toddler. When I pick him up from school, his eyes widen, his smile is contagious, and he collides into my bear arms the same way I crash into my mattress at night.
He's been with teachers and friends all morning and he knows he is safe, but I see his relief worn into his sleeve, and know the rush of being held and cradled, safe with mom.
My boisterous boy's energy evaporates into thin air in the ten minute walk from his classroom to our apartment. With sleepy eyes, he clings to me, bouncing to my rhythm until we make it home, and all 28 pounds are slowly dipped into the crib like something so much more fragile than he is.
I whisper my I love you's, he hugs his monkey and closes his eyes, and soon I have my baby back.
I've spent 18 months watching him fall asleep every day, and no matter how tired or tested I feel, those soft eyelids closing still make me melt. They feel like masseuse's hands working at a knot, smoothing away my tension.
I know the power of a big bear hug from someone I love and don't see often enough... that's my power now too.
What makes your child special?
My child is special because I made him. He's special because he forced me into new habits. He changed my circle of friends. He changed the dynamic between me and my family and my husband.
He's special because he can make me scream and laugh hysterically in a 3-minute window of time.
He's special because he can jut out his bottom row of teeth and bug out his eyes and hold up his fists when I ask if I can see his "strong face".
He's special because he's allowed me to fall in love with him for 541 straight days without even trying.
This post was collected by the Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M) in New York, partners in our online and touring exhibition Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves. You can add your own I'm a mum and a... photo here.
And if you'd like to host a virtual exhibition tour stop on your website, we'd love to have you - just let us know!