Short Answer: Yes.
11:37 a.m. - 2007-07-12
One of my best friends from college emailed me the other day with a few questions about children. She and her husband plan to begin fertility treatments soon, and she wanted answers "from the most honest person she knows" about the truths of motherhood. Like, does your life change as dramatically as people say? And, can you still have a social life with a baby? And--most importantly--would I do it over again if I had the chance to change things?
About three paragraphs into my response I realized that I had a LOT to say about the topic. Without realizing it, she'd given me a great writing prompt, and I decided to share some of what I had to say here.
The most honest person you know, huh? Heh. That could be either good or bad depending on the circumstances, but I think I like it.
The truth is, kids are crazy-making. They're incessantly needy, whiny, moody little time-suckers. They're dependant on you for every little thing, and they don't give a damn that you're tired, or sick, or depressed. They take and take and take and don't want to give anything back in return. They make messes--oh, GOD, do they make messes--and refuse to help you clean them up. As a matter of fact, they just keep dragging shit out while YOU'RE trying to clean up. They're incredibly selfish.
If you have a baby, you'll almost certainly lose some of your friends, simply because you have very little in common with them anymore. Single people don't generally want to hear over one or two stories about poop or breastfeeding or the cute thing your baby did the other day, because it's boring and they can't relate. They'll tell you that they understand when you say you can't go out on Friday night because the baby's teething or sick and you don't want to leave her, but inside they're really pretty irritated that you're putting someone else ahead of them....again. You may as well forget about ever getting enough sleep again, because you'll always, always be tired. You'll have to give up your favorite t.v. shows in place of Elmo and Barney, and talking on the phone or checking email will forevermore be full of interruptions.
You'll feel like you're going insane some days, and that if you don't get away from your kid for at least a few hours you may throw yourself--or someone else--down a flight of stairs. (And then while you're gone you'll miss her.) You'll yell, and you'll cry, and unless you're a patron saint, you'll probably end up spanking eventually. (And then you'll feel bad and swear never to do it again, but you'll know deep down that you're kind of lying.)
There will be times when you honest-to-God think that you can't do it anymore. That it's time to give up, and that you've failed as a mother. That your kid is going to be seriously screwed up later in life because of you. You'll doubt yourself more than you ever have in your life. You'll argue with your husband over who has the more difficult job, even if you're also working outside the house. Hopefully he'll eventually come around and admit that regardless of how much he tries to help out, you ARE shouldering the majority of responsibility because you're Mommy. And that's what Mommies do.
And that's just in the first two years.
So, is it worth all that? Would I do it again? Oh, yes. Yes. A million, trillion times yes.
You'll catch yourself looking at her in a moment of wonder, thinking how absolutely perfect this moment is. How amazing it is that you MADE this little person, this wondrous little person with all the best qualities of yourself and your husband combined. You'll finally know what unconditional love is. You may think you know now, but once you become a mother you realize that you had no idea before.
You'll peek in to watch her sleep and look up at the clock to realize an hour has passed without your knowledge. You'll be coloring with her one day and find a lump in your throat at how beautiful and smart she is, how much you love her. You'll find yourself marveling at things you never paid attention to before, like cows in a pasture on the side of the road, because she asks you to stop the car and look at them.
And you'll laugh. Lord, how you'll laugh.
You'll be come acquainted with a fear that you never knew before when you touch her in the middle of the night and she's scalding with fever. You'll have to repress a primal urge to whisk her away from any sign of danger or hurt. You'll have to hold back tears when she cries because another kid pushed her down or hurt her feelings, and then you'll have to struggle to keep yourself from smacking the little shit that did it.
Those are the things everyone says about because they're easy to talk about. But they don't even scratch the surface of why I'd do it again. The most important parts are unexplainable. They're nothing that can be put into words. It's the feeling you'll have when you're holding her skin to skin after she's born, or even later when she's bigger and sitting in your lap as she dozes off to sleep. It's the softness of her hair against your cheek, the lilt of her voice when she's telling you about something that excites her.
It's knowing that you're the most important person in the world to someone else, and that in her eyes, you can do no wrong. It's the sound of, "Mommy?" first thing in the morning. It's being grateful for the time you have with her now, because you know that in the future you'll have to learn to let go. It's looking down the road to kindergarten, high school, college, and her wedding, and trying to wrap your mind around the fact that your baby is going to grow up and that that's exactly what's supposed to happen.
It's sitting down to write an email to a friend about why you'd become a mother again and getting completely choked up at the sheer wonder of it all. It's wiping away your own tears while trying to put this miracle into words.
Yes, I'd do it again, in a heartbeat. That's why I'm pregnant now.
But I don't think I could do it more than twice.