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I found out this week that a work friend is expecting her first baby. Her smiling face as she told me her ‘secret’, simply made my day! The happy news sent my mind and heart reeling… right back to the very beginning of my own motherhood journey.
It's a magical place filled with anticipation... that sacred space of wonder just before you become a mom.
Your mind is filled with infinite unknowns as you wait the endless stretch of months until you finally meet your firstborn face to face.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a favorite article. One I first read almost 20 years ago. Long before email or screen shots, a dear friend offered a Xeroxed copy of these powerful words. My friend was a few strides ahead of me, already the wise mother of two children… a toddler and an infant. At the time, I was pregnant with my first child and couldn't even fathom the years ahead.
Note: Matthew and I were leaving for the hospital in the photo above. That baby bump just completed her freshman year of college;-)
The following thoughts on Motherhood are the words of Dale Hanson Bourke...
"It will change your life...
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 being forced to consider the prospect of motherhood.
“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 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’ll never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of childbearing heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.
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 of a she-bear protecting her cub. That a slightly urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation. That the anger she will feel if that call came over a lost toy will actually be a joy she has never before experienced.
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 childcare, 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 McDonald’s and a five-year-old boy’s understandable desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the mist 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 the restroom. 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 she’ll eventually shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same away 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 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, I know, but not in the ways she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to always powder the baby or who never hesitates to play “bad guys” with his son. I think she should know that she will fall in love with her husband again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.
I wish my modern friend could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried desperately 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 friend the exhilaration of seeing your son learn to hit a baseball. I want to capture for her the belly 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 it hurts.
My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize I have tears in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I say finally. Then I reach across the table, and squeezing her hand, I offer a prayer for her and me and all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this holiest of callings."
I recall trying to process the author's words and struggling to grasp what it must truly mean to be a mother. I thought I had a pretty good idea. Funny thing is… I didn’t, I couldn’t.
I believe that motherhood is something you must experience to fully understand. It’s a calling like no other. And I completely agree that it changes you… in the best possible ways.
This coming Sunday, there will be countless women waking up to breakfast trays and handmade cards. Women treated to brunch and hand-picked flowers. There will be those who pause to honor mothers or children no longer here and still others filled with longing as they wait for the day when it will be their turn.
I am beyond grateful that I’ll be spending the day with my family. All three of my children will be home… and my own mother arrives the next day. There might even be a breakfast tray and a handmade card:-)
Regardless of the actual celebration, I will be reminded that motherhood makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world.
How has motherhood changed you?
Wherever you are on this incredible journey, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.
Thank you for reading.