I’ve been a dad for almost a decade and proud to have been blessed with three angelic babies in that span. I still get choked up when I read this piece that I’m about to share with you. The message and meaning becomes deeper and more profound as the years go by, especially if you do indeed become a parent.
Time is running out for my friend. We are sitting at lunch when she casually
mentions that she and her husband are thinking
of “starting a family.” What she means is that her
biological clock has begun its countdown and she
is considering the prospect of motherhood.
“We’re taking a survey,” she says, half jokingly.
“Do you think I should have a baby?”
“It will change your life,” I say carefully.
“I know,” she says. “No more sleeping in on Saturdays,
no more spontaneous vacations…”
But that is not what I mean at all.
I look at my friend, 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
childbirth heal, but that becoming a mother will leave
her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever
I consider warning her that she will never read
a newspaper again without asking “What if that had been my
child?” That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her.
That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will
look at the mothers and wonder if anything could be worse
than watching your child die.
I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit
and think she should know that no matter how sophisticated
she is, becoming a mother will immediately reduce her to the
primitive level. That a slightly urgent call of “Mom!” will
cause her to drop her best crystal without a moment’s
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 successfully arrange for
child care, but one day she will be waiting to go into an
important business meeting, and she will think about her
baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of
discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure he
is all right.
I want my friend to know that everyday routine decisions
will no longer be routine. That a visit to Mc Donald’s and a
five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather
than the women’s room 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 danger may be lurking in
the rest room.
I want her to know that 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 the pounds of pregnancy, but 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 so much to
accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish his.
I want her to know that a cesarean scar or stretch marks
will become badges of honor.
My friend’s relationship with her husband will change, but
not in the ways she thinks. I wish she could understand how
much more you can love a man who is always careful to powder
the baby or who never hesitates to play with his son. I think
she should know that she will fall in love with her husband
again for reasons she would never have imagined.
I wish my modern friend could sense the bond she will feel
with other women throughout history who have tried desperately
to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving.
I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing
your son learn to hit a baseball. I want to capture for her
the laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog for
the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real
that it hurts.
My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have
formed in my eyes.
“You’ll never regret it.” I finally say.
by Dale Hanson Bourke
from Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul