A Message To My Friends Who Don't Know If They Want Children
Motherhood isn't easy, but I wouldn't trade it.
I see you watching with curiosity the cooing baby in my arms and the demanding preschooler at my feet. I notice you wince when I talk about the sleepless nights and terrible tantrums. I listen to you worry about how hard it must be and I understand your hesitation to take the leap. After all, so much of what you hear are the struggles, the loss of self, the need for a break.
I used to feel the same way when thrown into social situations with groups of children — the chaos, the noise, the boundless energy. How could I possibly ever relax amidst all that?
I even had a panic attack the night we got our first dog. As I stayed awake all night sick to my stomach over the weight of the responsibility, I couldn’t help but wonder if having children would feel similar, just amplified a trillion times. The thought was petrifying. Neither a dog nor a child has an off button.
But that’s what no one could make me understand until I did it. Having children unlocks this space in your being you didn’t know existed. It rips your heart open in the most spectacular way and this new capacity allows you to cope with the challenges because it’s accompanied by a love you’ve never known until the magic of that moment when you first hold your baby.
I won’t lie to you and say large gatherings of other people’s children won’t still be stressful or your own children won’t bring you plenty of overwhelming moments. You’ll worry and you’ll lose sleep and the world will feel so much more complex than it ever did before, but it will also feel so much more full than you ever knew it could.
I’ll never forget when I realized I’d trade all the travel and all the riches in the world just to be a mom. It wasn’t until my first daughter was home from the hospital and life began to take on its new rhythm. Somehow all the things I’d worried I’d lose from my untethered child-free existence didn’t matter anymore. Instead, that pesky aching feeling of a void that kept resurfacing at the end of a busy day or in the quiet lulls of holidays was suddenly filled by an intense sense of purpose.
Maybe all these words sound familiar and simultaneously cliche, but I challenge you to find a parent who truly regrets having children. Maybe there are some who have fleeting moments of these feelings, but I can honestly tell you I haven’t for a single second wished to take it back (even if for a few hours I’d like to runaway at times) and I don’t think I’m unusual.
So if you choose to jump sweet friend, I believe in you. I believe all your fears about it being too hard or your life changing too much will be unsubstantiated. It will be hard, but you will get through it with a love so worthwhile you’ll laugh to think you ever questioned it. And, yes, your life will change, but your life is always changing, and this season will pass into another and someday you’ll yearn to hold your kids close again, even as you enjoy those freedoms you now worry you’ll miss.
If, however, you choose to keep your feet planted in the familiar and instead enjoy the other children in your life, I promise to stop pestering you. Just know my previous questions have been purely out of excitement about whether you’re going to join me in this journey, as opposed to an attempt to drive you insane. If you simply didn’t want them, or couldn’t have them, I would’ve already left you alone.
I can’t pretend to know what’s right for you. All I can offer, if you still find yourself grappling with which path to take, is that being a mom is the calling I never knew would bring me so much joy. It’s exactly what I spent so much time unknowingly seeking, even if sometimes, as you well know, I also need a break.