There are a great many turning points in our lives, and a prominent one for women is the question of motherhood. Several women I know are at this junction in their lives, and are asking themselves if it is something they really want to do. Like any major decision, how is one to truly decide what is best? Especially with a decision that is affected by both logic and emotion?

The method I have used on many an occasion is completely illogical. I list the pros and cons, carefully weigh each factor in both lists, assign weight to each, and come up with a total that determines the result. Then I proceed based on my instinct anyway! I will always remember a quiz I found in a comic book at the ripe old age of nine. The quiz supposedly should determine whether they guy you “loved” was the man you should marry. It asked you if you could handle having ten little boys JUST like him. Of course the answer would be “Yes”, you were in love, right? I can’t imagine how I mustered that wisdom at that age!

There isn’t a “test” for motherhood, and if you do run into one, it is only another person’s opinion, just as this is. There are so many factors to weigh out: time, money, the state of the world, lifestyle, stability, love, the list goes on. The most common question I have heard is “Would I make a good mother?” This is one of the most crucial question, yet the most easily answered.

I have run into a few women who truly should not be mothers. The loving and nurturing is simply there or it isn’t. The women I know who are pondering this question currently focus their affection on partners, animals, plants, or nature, and I am comfortable each will do well as a mother: the loving instinct is there.

Money comes up as a consideration for most people. I heard this once, eons ago, have not the vaguest idea where, but it always stuck: If you are waiting until you can afford a child, you will never have one. So true! I can’t think of more than one family who has a substantial savings account. (He has an extremely high salary career, and they live conservatively to say the least!) Don’t consider money unless you are forced to live off of welfare or another state agency: instilling pride in your child is crucial! You will always make do, and helping a child save for a desired extra will teach the best values in the world. "Love will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no love", to steal a lovely and so apropos quote from a song.

The state of things makes one think “I won’t bring a child into this world”. You are on your own here! In my B.C. years (Before Children), I felt the very same thing. I knew the world would end in my generation, and it still might. I couldn’t see putting a child through the things I had to encounter. I had absolutely no plans to marry ever, let alone have children with diapers to be changed. Amazing how things change! Well, things are a whole lot worse in the short span between childbirth and now. My son has to deal with gangs at school, (the worse for me was rival fashion cliques), my daughter can’t play in our own front yard without adult supervision (I disappeared somewhere in the neighborhood for entire Saturdays without Mom worrying) and I am antsy when either child is not within “peeking” distance.

Still, the rewards of our family still outweigh the anxiety of an unknown future. We are a nourishing, supportive group flourishing in a society where the family has diminished, and along with it the moral backbone that used to keep our streets safe. If I planned my life based on death tomorrow, I wouldn’t be truly alive, planning a garden, or even writing an article in hopes of benefiting someone's life.

My Great Aunt Mildred lived to be a hundred and four, childless, and perhaps that’s why! She chose her lifestyle, and lived it elegantly. I don’t believe she regretted it, even when she only had my her nephew to rely on when she stopped driving and became fragile. One of my sisters appears to be following the example, even though her loving nature is bigger than the sky. I wish they both could have experienced all the wonderful things that come with children, yet I appreciate they never will go through the pain that is unavoidable as well, and respect their choices.

My mother tolerated our outrageous and continual flow of family pets. When she was called upon to console us at the loss of one, she would remind us of the love and wonderful times, explaining that without the the pain you could not have the joy. How I remember her words to this day as we lose one of our own pets, or my children experience their pain.

Managing your children is an entire subject on it’s own: one that will take a lifetime to learn. Thankfully, it is also done day by day, just as adjusting to a child in your life is done. The day of birth may be sudden, but your growth between conception and delivery is incredible.

The best recommendation is read, read, read. Take notes, start your own reference book. Refer to it often for the next twenty years. Absorb everything you can on style, principle, thought, method. Decide what you feel is best and be open to changing your mind, adjusting your methods and styles, adapting to what you encounter “in the field.” Talk to experts, mothers, teachers, and doctors. Be the best you can be by being prepared. Even all of this is never enough! There’s nothing like practical experience to teach you the most important lessons. I don’t know a single mother who did not think “I would do this differently next time.”

I went into motherhood determined not to make the obvious mistakes I felt my mother did raising her family. I didn’t make those mistakes (don’t applaud yet): I made my own! New ones I hadn’t dreamed of as well as all the not so obvious ones I experienced as a child. I also decided I would never punish my child physically, and encountered a nest of snakes. Everybody had another opinion, and I let their opinion rock my own, insecure ideals. I sincerely wish I could start all over with the knowledge in this area I have now. I would slap baby hands and be much firmer and consistent. There would have be a great deal more time taken for severe “You have disappointed me” conversations during the early years. If you see spanking as the only alternative for an older child (school age, depending), then the preceding years were ineffective.

Meanwhile, make your decision.  Above all, there must be love.  Unconditional, unending love that grows day by day in strength, understanding, patience, and forgiveness.  Even the smallest yet sincerest seeds of love grow to be the most incredible work of art ever seen my human hearts.

Know that you will do your best, it is all you can do, and what you must do.  I did my best with more doubts that I thought could ever exist, and at this writing have two well adjusted children, Scouts without apron strings, independent thinkers with courage, inner strength and confidence.  I must have done something right.  Now if I could get their grades up........

Written by Sharry Anne Stevens 1998, all right reserved

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