I’ve always viewed motherhood as a role essential to womanhood. Then I had a baby. Now I understand that some women just aren’t meant to be mothers.
Camille Paglia once suggested that sex ed classes include a serious dialogue for female students on life planning. Do you want a career? What kind of career do you want? Will that career afford time to devote to a family? Do you want children? Are you willing to sacrifice career progression for a child, or possibly give up on your career aspirations completely in order to raise children? All of these are valuable, realistic questions for young women to ask themselves as they prepare to become adults. But there are a few more key questions I’d add to the Paglia-inspired list for those considering motherhood.
Can you accept the idea of your body shifting and changing more times than a Jell-O mold shaking in the backseat of the car on the way to your aunt’s house for holiday supper?
Will you tolerate the postpartum mood swings that put PMS annoyances to shame?
How well do you handle sleep deprivation? Five months in I compared parenting to being locked up in a Chinese prison, because you Never. Get. To. Sleep. And I formula feed. If you’re thinking of breastfeeding, especially if you aren’t pumping a night bottle for the hubs to take over, start sleep training in 90-minute intervals now.
Are you willing to completely give up your social life? My holiday greeting this year came in the form of a Facebook message that read: “Really, I’d love to chat, and I do still care about you very much. I just have a baby who doesn’t nap and likes to ‘talk’ (i.e. scream) whenever he sees the phone in my hand. Have a wonderful holiday and I swear, when I surface you’re first on my list.”
Can you manage never going to the bathroom with the door shut again?
These are only a few of the many personal sacrifices women make when they become mothers. Hence, the key word: sacrifice. Motherhood is a complete and total sacrifice of oneself for the life of another. Which leads to the most important question to ask those contemplating motherhood:
Are you willing to change everything about your life and never look back?
You will still be you. But you will change. More than giving up that perfect pad for a more kid-friendly location, adjusting work hours or turning your back on what you thought would be a lifelong career, you will change. Your priorities will be different. Your values will shift in turn. If you’re the person who can’t ever imagine eating a cold dinner at 10 p.m., saying no to a girls’ night out, or giving up that big office for a desk in the spare bedroom, maybe you shouldn’t have kids.
But if you’re the person who can’t imagine going through life with only yourself to love, a cold dinner eaten under the living room play tent after a wild kids’ night in might be exactly what you need.