If you are the mother of a small child, it is hard to imagine that someday she  will come to protect you.

When she is little and playing outside, you go to the window to check on her every ten minutes. Is she still in the yard? Are her friends playing nice? Is she climbing too tall a tree?

When she is sick, you get on the phone with the doctor. You watch for high fevers and dehydration. You stand in the doorway of her bedroom and listen for her breathing. You put your cool hand on her forehead like your mother did yours.

When she is a teenager, you give her the keys to the car and you lie in the dark in your bed waiting to hear her come up the driveway. You stare at the bedroom ceiling in the dim light cast by the streetlight hoping for the clanking of the back gate.

When she goes away and life breaks her heart, you try not to treat her like a hurt child but you probably fail. Then you back away, knowing that she has her own life to live, but you wish you had a million dollars and magic answers to give her.

When she is a mother herself, you marvel that she is so good at it. She is confident and able. And kind. You see reflections of yourself in her but they are small snapshots because the bigger picture of her is larger than anything you every imagined or hoped for.

And then a tough time hits. And you realize you need her. She comes without being asked. She puts everything aside as if you are the most important person in the world. She travels a long way. And then she lays her calm hands on you. She sings a song. She mends things.  She quiets the others. Her laughter echoes. She is resolute and clear. She protects you.

I know this is hard to imagine if you are the mother of a young child, the one playing in the yard, the sick one in her bed, the one driving your car home late at night, the crying one on the phone, the young mother starting out. But trust me, I know it to be true. There will come a time when the child you protected will come to protect you.