A conversation between friends…
We are sitting at lunch when my friend casually mentions that she and her
husband are thinking of “starting a family” “We are taking a survey,” she
says, half-joking. “Do you think we should have a baby?”
“It will change you life.” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.
“I know” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends no more spontaneous
But that is not what I meant at all.
I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know
what she will learn in childbirth classes, I want to tell her that the
physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but that becoming a mother will
leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.
I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking “what
if that was MY child?” that every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when
she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than
watching your child die.
I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no
matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to
the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of “mom!”
will cause her to drop a souffle or her best crystal without a moment’s
hesitation. I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in
her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood.
She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an
important business meeting and she will think of her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to
use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home,
just to make sure her baby is alright.
I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be
routine-that a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather
than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right
there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of
independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a
child molester may be lurking in that restroom. However decisive she may be
at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.
Looking at my attractive friend, I want to assure her that eventually she
will shed pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about
herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once
she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also
begin to hope for more years-not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child
accomplish theirs. I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will
become badges of honor My friend’s relationship with her husband will change, but not
in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man
who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitate to play with his child.
I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would
now find very unromantic. I wish my friend sense the bond she will feel with women
throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she
understands why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily
insane when I discuss the threats of nuclear war to my children’s future. I want to
describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to
capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for
the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.
My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
“You’ll never regret it.” I finally say. Then I reach across the table, and squeeze my
friend’s hand and off her silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal
women who stumble their way into this most wonderful callings-the blessed gift of God
and that of being a mother.
Please share this with a Mom that you know or a future Mom you know.