loving a motherless (and not motherless) child

“I couldn’t love a motherless child.”

So said Catelyn Stark about the boy she thought was her husband’s bastard. Games of Thrones is my new background noise. I wish she could have loved little Jon Snow. I don’t understand how you cannot love a child.

Truth is, I instinctively want to protect all children, though admittedly I feel more obligation towards those in my care. Still, I want them to be loved and cared for, too. Sometimes, I think, it might be easier to love motherless children. Everyone loves you if you love a child who has lost a mother. You’re not supposed to love a child with a living mother. You’re strange, suspicious, even an intruder. At least to them. The outsiders.

I’m pretty certain the munchkins are grateful for my love, which is what matters most.

But they’re also guilt ridden for loving me back. They say, “I don’t think I can say I love you, because I think it might hurt Mom.” It’s probably true. They’re good kids, and they don’t want to hurt their mother. I cannot fault them there.

I don’t know if their mother loves them or not. If you ask me, I think she does. But my opinion means nothing. Whatever her feelings for them, it’s not enough, and it’s too little, too late. I pity her, but I won’t live in a false reality.

In over a decade, I have not seen one shred of evidence that their mother wants them. Only evidence that her own mother wanted her to provide grand children. Which she, being the dutiful daughter, apparently did (like the way she made sure to be a “good mother” whenever her parents came to town, but not when they were out of sight).

It doesn’t really matter, either way.

I suspect what’s worst of all isn’t that I haven’t seen the mother’s love for the munchkins, but that they have not. To the point where the youngest once casually questioned me, spooning apple sauce out of a jar, if I thought she was really her father’s biological child. She failed to see my reaction, thankfully, because she was more focused on the applesauce than me.

I cannot tell them, But I love you more than anything. Your father loves you more than life itself. You have so much love. You don’t need hers.

Even if she were the perfect mother, they deserve all the love they can get.

…and I will keep loving them, no matter who tells me I can’t.

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