Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
The pain of childbirth really is nothing compared to the ache that accompanies all of the joys of motherhood. You will love this little being so tremendously that you will often find yourself in physical, almost debilitating pain.
During the early weeks, you will watch your baby sleep. It will be beautiful, and you will be brought to tears over the perfect coloring of your baby’s lips, skin, and eyelids. Your baby’s profile will be complete perfection and you will wonder how you ever thought anything was beautiful before, because nothing will ever compare to the beauty of that face, attached to that tiny perfect body, sleeping beside you. And then they will stop breathing for about five seconds, because babies often do. Either that, or they will suddenly be breathing so soundly that you will not be able to see their chest rise and fall. Then, in that five seconds, while you wait for that next breath, you will want to die. You will panic. You will sweat. You may even jump right to bargaining with God, and then, even though the next breath comes, you will barely get any sleep that night.
About a year later, your little being will be toddling around the house and just barely miss the corner of the coffee table. When you see this, all of the muscles in your body will tense up and you will want to vomit. Your child, having no idea how close she was to slicing her head open, will toddle on. You, however, will feel lightheaded and have to try to regain composure.
About a year after that, your two year old will walk up to you with a box of thumbtacks (or the likes) and hand them to you. Your stomach will sink, wondering if he swallowed any of them. You will try not to ask, because you don’t want to give him any ideas for the future if he hasn’t thought to swallow them yet. So you will simply ask in your most determined calmness, “Where are the other thumbtack?” Then you will pray to God that he will not point to his mouth. Even when he doesn’t, you will still inspect every diaper, looking for blood, wondering if you should just go get an x-ray.
A few years later, your elementary school child will come home crying because someone doesn’t like him. You will feel that pain exponentially. You will try to explain about how that other child must be insecure to be such a bully, but in your head, you contemplate calling the school, calling the other child’s parent, perhaps even calling the cops. You will hold your child a little tighter as he peacefully falls asleep that night in his bed. Then you will get up, walk to your own bed, and cry yourself to sleep.
Every time your child is very sick, time will slow down. Nothing else will matter. You will forget to sleep and even forget to eat.
Being a parent means you get quite skilled at bargaining with a higher power.
It means begging to be allowed to carry their pain instead of them… and meaning it.
And it’s not courage or bravery that makes you mean it. It’s more like self preservation. It’s because that precious little being is “walking around outside of your body” with your whole heart.