I was having dinner with a friend recently (one of those rare occasions when I didn’t actually have to order off the kids menu). My friend has been married for a few years now, is in her early 40s and is trying to decide if she should just hit the snooze button on her biological clock or keep trying for motherhood.
“Don’t you think I’m too old now?” she asked me over a glass of wine. “Will I have enough energy to raise kids into my 60s? And what about work? By this point I’m making good money and have earned respect in my career. Do I want to give that up?”
I listened, nodding my head emphatically now and then, until she asked the dreaded question: “What do you think I should do?”
I took a deep breath and thought very carefully. This was dangerous territory, offering advice on motherhood.
What if I say “nah, motherhood wouldn’t suit you,” and she winds up missing out on one of the greatest joys on earth?
On the other hand I could say, “go for it,” and then 10 years from now she’s sitting in a padded cell somewhere, drooling, while her children are being cared for by distant relatives. This is tough stuff!
So I took another deep breath, opened my mouth – and ordered another glass of wine.
I mean, really. Where do I start?
Do I tell her that motherhood requires the ability to fall alseep in an upright position while cradling a crying infant (for the third time in one night)? Do I tell her she must be willing to wipe snot with her bare hands, and change the world’s biggest blow-out in the back seat of her red sports car?
Should I mention that it’s entirely possible to burn down the kitchen when sterilizing a pacifier, or that some 2-year-olds like to practice their potty training behind the couch? Should I tell her that she’ll be cutting food into miniscule pieces and peeling every shred of skin from fruit for the next 10 years? Or that she will never sit down to a hot meal again?
Do I tell her it’s entirely possible to have the stomach flu, throw up, and nurse a 1-week-old baby at the same time?
Should she know in advance that she’ll break down in the doctor’s office when she watches her 2-month-old get her first round of immunization shots? Do I tell her she’ll want to call 911 the first time her toddler splits his lip, but that on another occasion she’ll be the picture of calm cradling him on the way to the emergency room, blood gushing from a head wound?
Should I tell her her heart will stop the first time her toddler plays hide- and-seek and can’t be found, or the first time he darts ahead of her toward a busy street? Should I tell her it’s OK to crawl inside the oxygen tent and play trucks with a 2-year-old who has pneumonia, and that watching your child get an IV hurts more than getting one of your own?
And how can I put into words the immeasurable heartache and joy that is the first day of kindergarten? Or the sheer beauty of a purple ragweed and dandelion bouquet brought to you “just cuz.” The quiet togetherness of a backrub at bedtime. The prayers of a faithful 4-year-old?
“Well?” my friend interrupted my thoughts. “Do you recommend motherhood?”
I looked long and hard at my friend’s expectant face, took another deep breath and said, “Absolutely.”
– Happy Mother’s Day! Charla Belinski is a freelance writer and a certified parent instructor for the popular course Redirecting Children’s Behavior. She writes from her home in Snowmass Village and her column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail Charla at firstname.lastname@example.org- Happy Mother’s Day! Charla Belinski is a freelance writer and a certified parent instructor for the popular course Redirecting Children’s Behavior. She writes from her home in Snowmass Village and her column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail Charla at email@example.com
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