Maternal Instincts: A Child Idolizes, A Mother Reflects

LIGHTS ON

The Wonder Of New Life -- Plus All Those Gifts!

May 12, 1991|By Anne Haddad

The revelation that I sort of qualified for Mother's Day brought what was probably an inappropriate reaction.

But amid all the anxietyof a first pregnancy, I couldn't help but think: How nice, another day in the year when I can get gifts.

My co-workers looked thoroughly disappointed at my materialistic reaction to the holiday. I was half-joking, of course -- but only half.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the profound joy and fear of having a baby. I have a constant reminder of the baby's presence through its movement, or what is better described as fetal aerobics.

For both my husband and me, having children is a choice we made because we know we want it enough to make sacrifices of freedom, money and even sleep.

I find myself turning into a morning person for thefirst time in my life -- a miracle almost as wondrous as the one that's expanding my belly.

Somehow, biology seems to be helping alongthe social adjustment I will have to make. I'm glad biology has beenon our side, because it's one of those parenthood areas where we have little control.

But while biology hasn't changed since my mother gave birth to me 30 years ago, everything else has.

She didn't work outside her home until her youngest child was potty-trained.

An extended family living within three blocks provided her with an endless supply of support and baby-sitting. My closest relative, however, is nine hours away.

My parents bought their first house for $12,000 and paid it off within 10 years. But my husband and I can expect to have mortgage payments for 30 years, overlapping with the days when we'll be helping put our children through college.

I've read a lot of books about pregnancy and childbirth, but there's no book to answer my hardest questions about being a mother.

How do I raise a son to be strong, but not so strong that he bullies others? How do I indulge myself in all the pinkness of dressing up a little girl whileraising her to be an intelligent and assertive woman?

We planned carefully to have our first child after we jumped the hurdles of job switches, buying our first house and saving some money to carry us through a few months of unpaid maternity leave.

But we know one thing -- plan as we might, the rest of the way will be full of unexpectedturns. We can't plan when the baby will get sick, get hungry, cry orwet (or worse) the diaper.

Finding day care will be the first problem. In 4 1/2 years, how will we choose a school? Will we find one that fosters non-violence, respect for individuality, a passion for free speech and compassion for others?

Probably not, but those are our jobs anyway. It's just that we could use some help from the rest of the world. My country went to war during my first trimester. Just as scary was the way many who supported the war for democracy also undemocratically insisted on silence from peace activists.

Other days, there will be bigger decisions and responsibilities. But I don't want to dwell on them now. I'd rather anticipate the warm, cooing bundle of baby soon to arrive.

After all, it's Mother's Day. Where's mygift?

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