malala yousafzaiI've been trying to imagine how I would feel if I were Malala Yousafzai's mother, and the image I keep coming back to is one from the churches of my childhood: A sorrowful Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, her only son a martyr. Because it doesn't matter that Malala survived that Taliban bullet to the head, she is still, in the truest sense of the word, a martyr: She knowingly and willingly put herself in danger for the sake of others. For the common good. At this moment, in critical condition with severe cerebral edema, Malala is Christ crucified. And she is only 14 years old.

My own daughter is 11 years old, the same age as Malala when she posted her diary as a blog on the BBC’s Web site, revealing the Taliban’s horrific acts against women as they destroyed girls’ schools. How would I feel if my daughter followed the same path, becoming a true political activist before the end of puberty? The answer is complicated.

I would, of course, feel fiercely proud. And astonished. And humbled and inspired and about a million other things, but more than anything, I think I would feel absolute, bone-chilling terror. To my very core.

Because she is my daughter. And when I look at her, what do I see? I see unlimited potential, yes. I see a human being who is capable of changing the world. But I also see my beautiful little girl. And if anybody ever shot her in the head I would lose my fucking mind.

Maybe that makes me a coward. Maybe it makes me selfish. I don't know if I care, as long as my child is safe. All I know is that my heart bleeds for Malala's mother. And I hope to god I'm never in her position.

Can you imagine being Malala Yousafzai's mother right now?

Image via CNN