Mother to Daughter
We are sitting at lunch when my daughter
casually mentions that she
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
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 children accomplish their dreams. 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, 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
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.
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