Oh sure babies are wonderful, cute and cuddly. And the smell… Trust me, you’ll never love another living thing in quite the same way. But becoming a mother is not a life choice to make on impulse, because friends are having babies or you hear that biological clock ticking away. Too many women make this choice without any idea of what they’re getting into.
Well let me tell you, motherhood is a tough, thankless job that calls for lifelong commitment, regular sacrifice and the ability to put another’s needs before your own. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’ve done it a thousand times already. Even when you think you’ve done enough. I focus on motherhood here not because fathers aren’t important (they are!) but they are typically not as central to another living thing’s existence as the mother. The mother carries the life inside her and delivers (possibly nourishes) it. The bond is incredible, deep and lifelong. Of course the mother also bears the brunt of the blame when things go wrong; she rarely gets any kind of acknowledgement when things are good.
Rather than giving couples a license to marry I’ve always thought there should be this kind of process for parenthood. Perhaps IQ testing. Certainly mandatory parenting classes and non judgmental support are critical. Wishful thinking, I know.
Because, much as we sometimes might like to, you cannot divorce a child. Once they come into your life, they’re there to stay. Nothing stops at 18, don’t believe anyone who suggests a time limit to this task of parent, mother. You fool yourself if you think you can turn off mothering that way at the flip of a calendar. Take it from one who knows, you can’t.
If you’re considering taking this step, please stop to think:
• Am I willing to make sacrifices (big, life changing ones and small, annoying little things) for the rest of my life for the good of this child?
• Am I capable of putting my own fears, hopes and dreams aside in deference to the needs of a child?
• Am I willing to look the fool to advocate for this child when necessary?
As a mother you’ll need to do things you don’t like, step way outside of your comfort zone (more than once) while becoming immune to what others (sometimes significant others) think or say about you. You’ll have to toughen up.
Motherhood does make you more assertive, stronger in a way you can’t imagine now, but this will only take you part of the way. You’ll need the inner resources to take yourself the rest of the way. If you don’t have them, a child will make you nothing but miserable. If you are at all unsure, really truly in your heart of hearts where no one sees, that you cannot do this job well, don’t do it at all. You’ll save yourself, and that child, a lifetime of difficulty and many years in therapy.
There is no shame in knowing that this level of sacrifice and commitment is not for you. I applaud anyone with that kind of awareness.
There’s no rule that says everyone has to have children. Adopt a pet. Take care of people in this world already in need. Volunteer. Be your best. Don’t judge.