Sunday, May 9, 2010

Being a Mom

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127:3

Being a changes your life.

We were sitting at lunch when my friend casually mentioned that she and her husband were thinking of starting a family.

"We're taking a survey," she said, half-jokingly. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I said, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she said, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations..."

But that is not what I meant at all. I looked at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I wanted her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I wanted to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I considered warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been 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 her own child die.

I looked at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and thought 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 soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation. I felt 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 child-care, 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 wanted 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 wanted to assure her that eventually she will shed the 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 wanted 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 hesitates 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 could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I wanted to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing her child learn to ride a bike. I wanted to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or a cat for the first time. I wanted her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My friend's quizzical look made me realize that tears had formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally said. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my friend's hand, and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful calling. This blessed gift from God--that of being a Mother.

Dale Hanson Bourke from Everyday Miracles and Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul


Nel said...

What a perfect post!

Hannah said...

I love it!! How true, about the world she will leave, and the one she will enter!

Buffi Neal said...

Happy belated Friday Follow! Love your post! Hard to describe how a child will change your life forever. They are a blessing and undescribable.
My Wonderfully Dysfunctional Blog

Wendy said...

WOW! Captured beautifully. Brought me to tears!

sanjeet said...

lovely post
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