April 14th, 2008
By show of hands, how many of you think your wedding day was the most important day of your life? Of course you don’t. You can get all esoteric on me, and rationalize that your wedding day was so significant because otherwise you might not have gotten to the really important stuff, but don’t bother. You may have had a dream wedding. It may (like mine) have been a beautiful day. But if you’re a parent, you know that the most important days in your life are the ones when your children are born. Or when they do something fantastic. Like last Tuesday.
I know a woman who is planning her wedding to a man 10 years older, who has teenagers from his first marriage, and who (so I’m told) had a vasectomy. Now, the bride has always been pretty candid about lacking a maternal drive. She admits to being a little intimidated by babies and small children. Personally, I think it’s just a sign of her denial, since babies have an inherent ability to make you realize you’re an adult.
She may never have a baby, and she could certainly live the rest of her life quite contentedly without one. Or she could wake up one day, like that iconic Lichtenstein print, saying, “I can’t believe I forgot to have children!” Women like her are the reason that piece is so famous.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. We left our daughter with her grandparents and went out to dinner. And sitting there, we talked about significant days in our marriage, the very worst and the very best. Neither one of us ranked our wedding day in either category. For me, the best day was the day our daughter was born, because I remember thinking so clearly that he and I had made a family, and that we were ready to live up to that. For him, the best day was an afternoon when our daughter was about 18-months-old. He came home from work to find us dancing to Professor Longhair’s “Crawfish Fiesta,” and he says he felt all his stress just melt away.
It makes me a little sad for this bride, to think that it’s unlikely she’ll ever know that kind of joy. Yes, there are plenty of other ways to happiness, but there’s only kind of motherhood.
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