When we were home for Christmas, DH, BG and I went out to breakfast with some (childless) friends. They fussed over BG, and she hammed it up, of course.
Then my friend's wife turned to me and asked me, "How did you know you wanted a baby?"
I took a sip of my decaf coffee to give myself the pause I needed to think of an answer. This woman had been making kissies at my child 5 minutes earlier. Last summer, at another friend's wedding, she had offered to hold the baby and then *disappeared* with her for ten minutes to "give me a break." I was surprised by the question, to say the least.
"Do you mean at all or now?"
"Oh. Well, I've always pretty much known I wanted to be a mom. I mean, I was actually kind of afraid of babies because I'd never spent much time with any, but something told me that being a mom was what I was meant to do."
My friends and my husband laughed. "Yeah. We knew that when she was 15."
She looked at me and nodded. "Okay. But how did you know you were ready?"
"Oh. You're never ready."
She startled. "No?"
"Well, how could you be, really? I mean, until you do it you have no idea. I guess at some point, you just have to take a leap of faith."
"...That's really terrifying, do you know that?"
"Oh. Well, no, I didn't mean it that way. I mean, well, you figure it out as you go. You know?"
"But...doesn't it completely change your life?"
How do you begin to describe motherhood, or parenthood in general? How do you tell someone how wonderful and magical and horrifying it is? How do you explain that it is the hardest thing you've ever done in your life in a way that makes it seem attractive and appealing? How do you make someone understand that yes, it changes your life, and yes, it changes you but at the same time it doesn't stop you from *being* you? How do you reassure someone that it is possible to find ways to do what matters to you, but that what matters to you will probably drastically change? How do you say, "Hey, it's okay to be scared, but don't be scared"?
So, instead, I just said, "Well, umm, yes. But that's not necessarily a bad thing."