By Laura Snyder
To all the childless women I have ever talked to about having children: I'm sorry.
Why is it that when women who have children are in a room with childless women, we want to impart every horror we have ever encountered in child-rearing to the unsuspecting, wide-eyed novice?
Most times it doesn't take anything more than a simple polite query to set us off
"How are the kids?"
"Oh, they're fine, now, but I nearly had a heart-attack when I found them on the roof preparing to see if our cat, who was tied to a plastic garbage bag would survive a free-fall of two stories."
Now, my childless friends, this is where you must not even raise an eyebrow. No evidence of shock on your face, no gaping mouths - nothing. Because if you show the slightest sign of interest, you will undoubtedly hear the rest of the story whether you like it or not. One quirk of your lips is all it takes.
"Yeah, they thought they'd try the cat first and if it survived they were going to try it with the smallest of them because she weighed the least. Good thing I caught them when I did."
Invariably, there will be another mom who joins the conversation. "You know my little Johnny weighs the least now, but when he was born he was 9lbs 2 oz.!"
The floodgates have now been opened and you will now hear about enormous baby weights, maternity room horrors of 30-hour labors, Cesarean Sections, water breaking in the grocery store, Lamaze and all its subsequent lies, and needles in your spinal cord to alleviate the pain (which sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it?).
Good heavens, ladies! Do we really want to so shell-shock the younger generation into never having children? Do you ever want grandchildren? What is wrong with us?
The truth is, our stretch marks and Cesarean scars are badges of honor. Our story-telling has the same therapeutic effect for us as the stories of a war veteran. We have been through the sleepless nights, the endless worry, the terrible twos, potty training, and the countless boxes of Band-Aids, cases of Lysol, 409, and Kleenex. This is what we do because we love a child. The pain and fear of child birth is just the beginning, but it prepares us for what is to come like nothing else could. If we can get through that, we know we can get through anything!
What I don't understand, though, is why we never mention all the good stuff to these potential new moms. Are we really being kind to prepare them for the worst, without mentioning what they would miss if they never went through with it?
Why don't we talk about the sweet good-night kisses? Or the way it feels when a toddler takes his first steps? Or how soft their hair is after a bath? What about the pride in our hearts the first time he recites the ABC's flawlessly? Or catches a football? Why don't we tell them about the spontaneous hugs or the Kool-Aid smiles or the way she dances when the Sesame Street song comes on?
What about the times they crawl into bed with you in the morning for a quiet half-hour of snuggling? And all the homemade Mothers Day gifts that we save forever?
Did I ever mention how lonely we would be without our children and how empty life would be without them?
No?... I'm so sorry.