A daughter, visiting her mother, shared that she and her husband were thinking of starting a family. The mother reflected on what to tell her: “I want her to know what she will never learn in child birth classes. I want her to know that the physical wounds of bearing a child will heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound that will leave her vulnerable forever. I want to warn her that she will never read a newspaper again without asking, ‘What if that had been my child?’ 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, no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. 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.
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. I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drink driving. I hope she can understand why I become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children’s future. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a cat or dog for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real that it actually hurts.
My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realise that tears have formed in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I finally offer a silent prayer for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings, this gift from God – of being a mother.