Probably the most embarrassing thing about having my most recent struggle with a kidney stone was the number of people who likened the experience to that of childbirth. This sort of comparison provided me with a wave of much-needed compassion and gold stars for bedside manner for them, but it only takes a moment or two to spot all the ways in which they really are not the same. Chief among these is the fact that I will not spend the next eighteen to sixty years worrying about where my kidney stone is on a Friday night. Or any other night, for that matter.
No, kidney stones pass. Eventually. Children have a tendency to stick around. That is why childbirth is such an awesome feat. That is also why we have a special day set aside for its recognition: Labor Day. Please feel free at this point to hurl something at your screen, but don't break it. I would hate to be responsible for property damage in addition to that awful joke. I would also feel bad if it were somehow inferred that I don't have the proper respect for motherhood. Mothers are awesome. Mothers are powerful. Mothers are magical.
I can say this with a straight face because I have personally witnessed what would otherwise be considered impossible events brought on by the presence of somebody's mother. Think of how many tons of vegetables are eaten every day simply because your mother told you to. Mothers are responsible for mediating all manner of sketchy behavior, sometimes simply by invoking their presence. They don't even have to be in the room. "What would your mother say if she were here?" I've taken the steam out of plenty of fifth grade boys with that one.
And here's another distinct difference between my relationship with my kidney stone and mothers' relationship with their offspring: I was happy and relieved to be rid of my kidney stone. I did not feel any sort of intrinsic bond with that sliver of calcium. My mother, on the other hand, has endured decades of irritation from me, and yet she remains unflinchingly fond of me and maintains a nearly constant interest in my well-being. This extends to my experience with kidney stones. Ah, the irony.
I confess that at times I benefit from the fact that my wife is also a mother. When those moments arise that test our marriage vows about sickness and health, I feel like I get a little extra TLC because my wife moonlights as a mother. Well, she actually works more than full time on that whole motherhood gig, but it's nice when some of those big time momma concern rays fall on me, especially while I'm flopping around in pain because of (ta-dah!) kidney stones. Whereas it is primarily the father's job to insist that their child "suck it up" an play on, mothers have a way of softening most any crushing blow.
And one more difference: I didn't receive a card from my kidney stone this year. Not even a phone call.