I received this email from a friend today and it truly captures the essense of motherhood:
Being a mother We are sitting at lunch when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of ‘starting a family.”We’re taking a survey,’ she says, half-joking. ‘Do you think I should have a baby?’ ‘It will change your life,’ I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral. ‘I know,’ she says, ‘no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations….’ But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know whatshe will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physicalwounds of child bearing will heal, but that becoming a mother willleave 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 had been MY child?’That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she seespictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worsethan watching your child die. I look at her carefully manicured nails andstylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of ‘Mom!’ will cause her to drop a souffl� or her bestcrystal without a moment’s hesitation. I feel I should warn her thatno matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for child care butone day she will be going into an important business meeting and she willthink of her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of herdiscipline to keep her from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right. I want my daughter to know that everyday decisions will no longer beroutine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room ratherthan 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 againstthe prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that rest-room. However she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assureher that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she willnever 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 tosave 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 willbecome badges of honor. My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.. I wish she could understand how much more you canlove 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 shewould now find very unromantic. I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feelwith women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice anddrunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationallyabout most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss thethreat of nuclear war to my children’s future. I want to describe to my daughter theexhilaration 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 a cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts. My daughter’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, squeeze my daughter’s hand and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. This blessed gift from God!Being a Mother.