How Motherhood Changes One's Life...

...As told by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen.
I have just read the most poignant story about motherhood that I have EVER come across in this post by Faboolosity. If you are a mother - or mother to be. Please read.

We are sitting at lunch when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "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 weekends, no more spontaneous vacations...." But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, 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 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 matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. 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 all right. 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 child accomplish theirs. 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 nuclear war to my children's future. 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.

27 comments:

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Wow, that was really touching! And so true. So true! I felt each one of those tangled emotions as I was reading, I feel them everyday in fact!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I am on the West Coast, Portland, Oregon. So you were looking at the Pacific Ocean!

I hope you will visit again soon! Your blog looks great!

heidi said...

Hi Marie Louise! Thanks for stopping by my blog... I wanted to drop you an email after reading your profile, but i couldn't find your email addy anywhere on your blog. Just wanted to say that I did it. I followed my dream, & quit my corporate job to be a WAHM. Go for it! Your site is beautiful.

Marie Louise said...

Hi Heidi - I would love to hear more about what you did and how you did it! My email addy is
marielaura2@gmail.com
Look forward to hearing from you!

Ciara said...

What a beautifully captured paean to motherhood. All so true and yes, complex and impossible to really explain to one who is yet to embark on that bumpy, grassy, flower lined road.

High Desert Diva said...

That was beautiful.

Rebecca said...

I'm so glad you told me about this. I read this a few years ago before I had my daughter but didn't realize it was Anna Quindlen. What a treat to have you bring it back to me. It was beautiful the first time I read it, but now - oh my, it's heart wrenching. She gets it. What can I add? I have to bookmark you!

~ Rebecca

littlebyRD said...

oh wow - thanks for sharing this. It is true beauty!

Jen said...

Such a moving piece and I thank you. I remember telling a friend of mine, having her babies well after mine were growing into women, that motherhood can turn the most selfish of individuals into the most selfless ones.

A-M said...

Oh yes, my heart is heavy every day... with love, with worry, with joy. Motherhood is a true blessing.
A-M xx

Star of the East said...

Beautiful story!

Marie Louise said...

Rebecca - I always found it amazing that there are a million books on pregnancy and child birth, but no one really tells you what it is to be a mother. Maybe it's just something one has to figure out for themselves.

Lydee said...

lovely read, thanks for sharing it.

brookeahanadaily said...

Thank you for sharing this - it is truly beautiful...I agree, it is something one has to discover all on their own and in their own time. I am not there just yet, but when we do take the plunge I will surely re-visit these words.

la la Lovely said...

Hi Marie Louise.. what a great post.. and so true. Thanks for stopping by my blog.. hope to see you back soon!
Trina
la la lovely

Lisa Conmara said...

that made me cry - its exactly what motherhood is.

vosgesparis said...

That is a wonderful story , altough it is the most beloved job I have It is exc. like you say ,.. the never ending concern about your children is the thoughest thing of motherhood. Anyway nature will speak for your daughter ;)

pve design said...

My Mother told me that your hands and feet no longer will belong to you. I never realized the true meaning till my twins arrived into my life. My Father told me that the reward would outweigh all the lost sleep, worry and gray hair. They both tell me what a "fabulous" job I am doing as a Mother. It certainly is the hardest job. I was just with a group of gals and told them how I cried several months after the birth of our sons - I was crying tears of joy but blurted out "This is a job for life, and I can't even quit"-
Hard but all worth it. Very touching.

Marie Louise said...

Love the "hands and feet" thing. And so true, my youngest especially, is always underfoot. It changes though - I subject my teenager to my hugs and thank goodness she still tolerates them.

Arctida said...

Hi Marie Louise! Thanks for stopping by my blog, I have no idea how you’ve found me all the way in Sweden :) but I’m thankful you did! This is such a moving piece! Reading it actually brought tears to my eyes :) Motherhood truly is a blessing! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us.

Dianna said...

Wow, that is really beautiful! I'm not a mother yet myself, but hopefully I will be one day. Love your blog!

The Lil Bee said...

That is wonderful. Thank you for such a beautiful post! All choked up...and I'm not even a mother!!

pretty kitty publishing said...

Thanks for sharing this Quindlen piece. I will share it with my sister who is expecting ...

Elements of Style said...

So wonderful, and incredibly poignant for me, as we are about to start trying for our first baby. Is it bad/funny/pathetic that I feel this way about my dog already?? :)

Marie Louise said...

Elements - congratulations on your plans to take the baby plunge. No, there is nothing wrong about having the same feelings for your dog. The thing is, you have yet to feel the way you will when you have your baby. You can't imagine it until you are there. I had my first at 32 and believe me, I had no idea.
But you'll see!!!

Dariela said...

Hi Marie Loiuse! I came by to thank you for visiting my blog and bumped into this story that I couldn't stop reading. So amazingly true, I love how it describes the feelings that we get aas mothers!

kat said...

So glad I came across this, beautiful.

Persephone said...

This reminds me strongly of a column Dave Barry wrote a few years back about his 12-year-old son being in a bike accident. Like many funny writers, he can be very affecting when he has to be. The column is entitled Uneasy Rider, and I believe it also appears in the collection Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up. I guess dads are as unnerved by the vulnerability parenthood bestows as mums are.

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." --George Eliot