Sunday, May 08, 2005

Being a Mom

We are sitting at lunch one day 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 what she
will never learn in childbirth classes. I want 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 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 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 soufflé or her best
crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many year she
has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed
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 discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure
her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day 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 daughter, I want 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 herself 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 daughter's relationship with her husband will change, and 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 daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women
throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and
drunk driving. I want to describe to my daughter 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.

formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then
I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and
offered a silent prayer for her,and for me, and for all the mere
mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of

Please share this with a Mom that you know or all of your
girlfriends who may someday be Moms. May you always have in your
arms the one who is in your heart.


  1. Wow! There sure is a lot of truth there! Never the same is an understatement.

  2. I send her a prayer myself.