Monday, May 9, 2011


Lo those many years ago, when I was working in Seattle and thinking about having a baby, my dear friend Cindy gave me this article.  Every now and then, I pull it out, uncrinkle it, and read it again.  I got it out today so I could share it with my son's teacher, who will be having her first child any day now.  In honor of the lovely Mother's Day we just celebrated, I thought I'd share it with the rest of you, too.

Motherhood:  It Will Change Your Life
by Dale Hanson Bourke

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 considering the prospect of motherhood.

“We’re taking a survey,” she says, half jokingly. 
“Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say carefully.

“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 will never learn in childbirth
 classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of
 childbirth heal, but that becoming a mother will leave
 her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever

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. That a slightly urgent call of “Mom!” will
 cause her to drop her best crystal without a moment’s

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 
child care, 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 desire to go to the men’s room rather
 than the women’s room 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 danger may be lurking in 
the rest room.
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
 eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but 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 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, but 
not in the ways she thinks.  I wish she could understand how
 much more you can love a man who is always careful to powder
 the baby or who never hesitates to play with his son. I think
 she should know that she will fall in love with her husband
 again for reasons she would never have imagined.
I wish my modern friend could sense the bond she will feel
 with other women throughout history who have tried desperately
to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving.
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 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
 that it hurts.

My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have 
formed in my eyes.
“You’ll never regret it.” I finally say.

1 comment:

Heather said...

That is a great one for sure.