There’s something to be said for a mother’s intuition. Somehow, even when her kids don’t explicitly tell her what’s happening in their lives, she knows when they’re struggling. And if her child is on fire, well, a mother just knows.

A mother just gets a sense exactly at the moment when her son or daughter has been lit on fire. She can smell it. If you don’t have kids, it’s not something you’d understand. This is simply one of those things that we mothers can feel deep down inside. We don’t need fancy monitors around the house; we just know. Whether my child is running around our backyard covered in flames or frantically rolling around on the ground, I know. I can’t tell you how, I can’t tell you why, but I do.

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Before I had children, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. I thought “mother’s intuition” was a folk tale. Cut to six beautiful years later, and I feel a bond with my son, Geoffrey, that I have difficulty explaining myself. Call it intuition, call it a sixth sense, but it’s there.

This is simply one of those things that we can feel deep down inside.

I understand if you’re skeptical—this is exactly the kind of thing I’d roll my eyes at before I had kids of my own. But once you’ve nurtured a living person inside you for nine months, you’ll feel it too. That weird little prickle on the back of your neck every time your son or daughter reaches over the stove while wearing a loose sweater and finds him or herself sprinting to the pool, consumed by flames.

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A mother just knows.

Why, it happened only yesterday. I was washing dishes when I suddenly stopped and perked up, knowing instantly that Geoff and his friends must’ve broken into that abandoned chemical plant near the reservoir and pierced a pressurized drum of highly volatile something or other—and sure enough, when I got there, the firefighters were struggling to free him from beneath a collapsed I-beam. Mothers can tell these kinds of things.

When my son is on fire, I know it. I don’t know whether it’s just our deep biological connection or something more, but I can feel him rolling on the ground, writhing and shrieking, wondering what’s happening to him and whether the pain will ever go away. I simply have a feeling. It’s just like whenever my daughter is struggling in quicksand.

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