non-mother’s meditation on motherhood

Joan Didion writes in Blue Nights, “Once she was born I was never not afraid.”

How much more anxious does one become upon having a child—upon being touched by God to bring up a little life that looks a little like oneself? To see oneself in the face of this sweet creature, this beautiful creature that will grow up under one’s own hand and in one’s own embrace? To carry memories of one’s own childhood and beg the good Lord not to let one make the same mistakes, to never let the child think her parent is disappointed in her failure, or make her feel shame for not being perfect, or place eggshells beneath her feet and harsh words in her head to haunt her adult life? And yet one will make those mistakes. And the devil will place those thoughts in her mind no matter how hard one tries to ward them off.

How does one even begin to fathom the fear that something could go terribly wrong? That this child could at any moment be snatched away in body or in soul, never to return? How does one contain all the love that must gush from places one never knew existed until her conception?

How does one so defined by a mother’s hug so desire motherhood?

How is it that the more we love the more we are afraid of dying? Or is that not the right kind of love—not the right kind of love at all?

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