When we women stand at the brink of motherhood, we have no real idea what we’re getting into.
Now that I’m several years beyond that brink, I’m aware of a strange paradox:
If someone had told me how hard motherhood would be, I might not have considered it. And if they had told me how wonderful it would be, I would never have believed them.
Few things can bring a woman to tears as often and as easily as motherhood. Joys so ecstatic and sorrows so profound belong to mothers alone. When her child emerges from within her own body, a young mother discovers her second heart beating outside her chest . . . a little face she thinks she’s seen somewhere before . . . and a new emptiness inside that didn’t exist before she became her baby’s first temporary home.
Only a mother can really know this. Fathers can guess, or imagine. Poets sense something of the mystery. But only a mother can know. Not that we want to keep it to ourselves, but it simply can’t be transmitted. Motherhood isn’t a piece of exquisite dark chocolate that can be shared; nor is it a heavy burden two side-by-side horses can pull. It is a wonder too wide for words, a road too narrow for two to travel.
A child changes a woman. She cannot be the same as she was before a baby called her womb “home.” A mother is no longer living for herself alone; someone is now depending on her. Then her baby emerges from her body, and she can see who that someone is. What’s a little unsettling—and infinitely precious—is that her little someone can see who she is, too.
Recently, one of our new moms told us—
“The best part of being a mom is just seeing my daughter every day; she inspires me to be the best mom and person that I can be!”
Knowing that her child is watching, she is stretching herself to be the mother her child needs. Another mother shared how she enjoys being her child’s source of love—
“The best thing I love about being a mom is when my son trips and falls he looks to me for that comfort to make it all better.”
What a privilege is ours, to love and lead our children! Oh, those big eyes looking into ours! Sometimes we wonder how we can survive the weight of responsibility, and then the simplest moment of loving and being loved in return lifts our load. One of our young mothers told us she rejoices in those simple happy moments—
“I love playing [with] and feeding my babies.”
Giggles, Band-Aids, spaghetti-sauce smiles, first steps, favorite stories . . . Mothers treasure these beautiful, simple moments more than jewels. A mother is the one who thinks, “Other people may have diamonds, but I hold the heart of this child.”
To any of our readers who are contemplating motherhood, we encourage you to come and talk to us about what lies ahead. At Choices, we get to know many expectant mothers. We delight in seeing these women put on motherhood like a beautiful new garment and then grow into it.
We’d like to help you too, as you ease into this wonderful, unsettling, precious, challenging, and simply lovely part of life.