Amy and Mackenzie

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 what she will never 
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 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 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 daughter 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 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 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 caesarean scar or 
shiny stretch marks will
become 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 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 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 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 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 . . .
that of being a Mother.

~~Author Unknown~~

FOR ALL MOTHERS

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