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I don’t claim to know a lot about many things. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to fly an airplane or rebuild a car engine. But I do know a little bit about being a parent, seeing as how I’ve been one for a while now. And for that reason, I feel qualified enough to give at least one piece of advice to those women out there contemplating becoming mothers themselves.So, what is my advice to those of you who feel your lives won’t be complete without a little bundle of joy to call your own, to those who long to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet? What is my advice to you, my friend? Well, it’s really very simple.Don’t do it.Resist that biological clock you hear ticking. For heaven’s sake, take a sledgehammer to it if you have to! But no matter what you do, no matter what your instincts (and mother-in-law) are telling you, DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN!See, there are things they don’t tell you in parenting books. Things like how there’s a good chance you’ll poop on the delivery table during labor, how your boobs will probably not only sag but also get smaller after breastfeeding, and how you will feel the unyielding urge to maim that three-year old in the park because he threw sand in your baby’s face.
But the most important thing that they don’t tell you, the thing you really should know before you get into the whole “mom” thing, is that the moment that baby pops out, your heart will go with it.
Am I making myself clear enough? You know, that beating, pumping thing you couldn’t possibly survive without? Yes, well now that heart will be in the care of an infant and you will never get it back again. That wee baby, who you wouldn’t even leave in charge of feeding itself, will now and forever be in charge of taking care of your vital organs.
Now as anyone who’s ever met a toddler knows, their grubby little hands are not the safest place for a heart to be. I mean really, they haven’t even mastered their gross motor skills yet, let alone realized the propensity of being in charge of a human heart. Plus, they pick their noses and eat it. For fun! Not really the type of person I would have chosen to protect my most vital organ had I known better.
But apparently there’s some sort of conspiracy among babies to steal their mothers’ hearts, one that has been going on since the beginning of time and one that I suspect you and I may even have been a part of. I can only assume that it’s during that final push of labor, right before her first breath, that your baby will, in one last attempt to remain inside the warmth of your body, reach up, grab a chunk of your heart, and pull it out without you even knowing. That or they slowly absorb it into their growing bodies during the nine months of pregnancy. You can’t really blame them though, since there’s nothing else to do that whole time, other than trying to get their feet stuck in your ribcage.
Anyways, the when’s and whys really aren’t important. What’s important is that if you have a child you should be prepared to give up your heart. You probably won’t even notice right away that it’s missing. After all, at first you’re all caught up in the peach fuzz and tiny socks. And since you have to hold a newborn almost constantly anyways, your heart hasn’t really gone too far yet. But just you wait until you have to drop that baby off at daycare for the first time or send him away for his first sleepover. Then you’ll notice, and only then will you realize the cruelty of it all. The place where your heart used to be, the place you thought became fuller upon having a child, well, that place is now vacant and that little bugger is the one who took it.
So here’s a fair warning. The pain that you’ll feel due to being separated from your heart is so great that it’s almost unbearable. It’s far worse than anything any stupid boyfriend’s ever done. And all of a sudden you’ll realize that the reason you’ve devoted every last bit of energy to caring for this child is not because you have given birth to God’s gift to the world. No, it’s the fact that if something happens to the kid, something will happen to your heart, and if something happens to your heart, YOU WILL DIE.
And nobody wants that.
So before you take that plunge into motherhood, consider that you will have to make it your life’s mission to protect that child of yours because, as you may already know, there is no way to get a heart back from a toddler. They are very bad at sharing. You’ll obsess over it when she tells you she can swim in the deep end by herself. You’ll hyperventilate about it when she goes for her driver’s license. You’ll spend months grasping for it when she leaves for college. But no matter what you do, that kid will never understand the responsibility she’s been given- the responsibility of caring for her mother’s heart.
Not until she has her own child at least…