I was talking to a close friend on the phone today about the subject of child bearing. My friend is happily married and up until now has been happily childless as well. She has finally begun to hear her biological clock ticking, rather annoyingly loud, in her ear and wanted to hear my views on the matter. She is very afraid when it comes to the idea of having children of her own. She is afraid to have a child and at the same time, afraid she will have missed a very important boat if she does not. She is afraid of the pain of childbirth; afraid of the responsibility, afraid she is getting too old and just plain afraid.
Usually, when my friend starts talking about her child birthing fears I keep my mouth tightly shut. After all, I have quite a few children, think they are the cat's meow, and cannot be even the tiniest bit objective when it comes to the subject of whether or not she should start a family. I believe, knowing my friend's character, she will be an awesome mother and any child will be lucky to have her. I believe children are a bright light in the lives of those who allow them in. I feel very strongly that my friend will be tragically missing something wonderful in her life if she remains childless, but as a good friend should, I usually keep such opinions to myself. I realize I do not have the right to tell her what she should do or force any unwanted opinions on her.
This time, however, she asked my opinion. I reminded her of the fact that I cannot be objective when it comes to talk of babies. She told me she understood. I struggled with what to tell her. After all, her fears were valid. There would be pain in childbirth, children are expensive, and parents give up much of their personal time and freedom in order to raise children. She already knows these things, however, so I decided to try a different strategy and tell her all about a baby's smile.
I told her that all her fears and concerns would cease to matter when she holds her baby in her arms and he or she smiles at her for the first time. When she is hit with that dazzling smile her heart will melt and she will be totally in love. She will want to laugh and cry with joy at the same time. She will feel both in awe of her tiny bundle and fiercely protective of it at the same time. Her baby's smile will be enough to add dazzling light to even the most dreary day and lift her heart during the saddest of times. That smile alone makes child rearing, even with, all the resulting challenges well worth it.