Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You're never ready

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?"

"Well, either."

"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."


  1. I just had this conversation yesterday. I was tongue-tied, saying "Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me, even thought it's the craziest and scariest, too." I explained that even the bad sleep & PPD don't deter me from thinking my kid is the coolest person on the planet & motherhood is awesome. It's so hard to put that into words & not sound like you're insane. It's a feeling, you know?

  2. Sounds an awful lot like she's ready to take the leap!

  3. I've stopped trying to explain it to people. You really do end up sounding like an insane person when you say "its such hard work, but I love it". uhhhh... I honestly think there is no way to capture all that it means to become a mom until you actually are one. I've compared expectant moms to a person jumping off a cliff. That's how unknown and drastic the change is. So, yeah, leap of faith!!!

  4. I think we think we are ready (financially stable, married, decent house, etc) but you're right--nothing prepares you for the shock of it all. It's nothing any person or any book can prepare you for. It's literally jumping in with both feet and learning to swim. Because you have to.

  5. Being a parent is changing everything you have ever known. People will tell you how it was for them, but it's different for every parent. The unrational, unbridled joy. The pride that you feel for the littlest things. That is what becoming a parent does to you. It is magical.

  6. I just visited your blog for the first time and I absolutely love it! So many of your posts coincide with my exact feelings. It's crazy! I really enjoy your writing. I'm a mom to twin 10 month old girls and I blog too at It helps me still feel like myself amidst motherhood. Thanks for sharing your stories and feelings.

  7. That is a much better answer than I would have given. I struggle not to blurt out, "Run away!!!" ;)