I have a friend who, although pregnant, was not excited about having a baby. She had gotten pregnant because her husband really wanted to start their family, plus she felt the cultural pressure of "How long have you been married? Shouldn't you have a baby by now?" So she went along with it.

I thought this was so sad. I feel strongly that it ought to be a joy and a blessing to bear and nurture children. However, even knowing that, I too have a hard time really wanting to be a mom. That's why I've been studying the desire for motherhood before my husband and I even consider starting our family. That way, when it is time, I'll be able to face that future with delight instead of reluctance.

With these tips, you can get excited about your future role as "Mom" too.

Pray about it

Motherhood often feels so much bigger than anything you could ever possibly handle, but that is an excellent reason to turn it over to a loving and wise deity. Sincere prayer brings peace to our hearts. That's not to say that we pray and suddenly everything is better. As for me, I found that after praying, I could began my search for wisdom knowing that I would be guided in it. I also knew I would be blessed for my honorable desires to love motherhood. You, too, can acquire the serenity I found by beginning your quest to accept the eventual reality of motherhood with prayer.

Notice traits in your husband that will make him an excellent father

When you picture yourself as a mother, try to include your husband in the mental image as well. It can remind you that together, you two can be great parents. Plus, there's just something attractive about a man playing with kids!

Practice childcare

Offer to babysit for mothers in your social circles. You not only extend a gesture of friendship and a welcome relief for their burdens, but receive an opportunity to practice childrearing skills. Before I babysit for my friends, I research age-appropriate ways to play with the children. Research helps you to know what to do that fits the child's developmental level as well as gives you knowledge for when you have children of your own. Also, try to get a firm grasp of the mothers' expectations. This will allow you to practice a parenting technique that might not have come naturally to you without the input.

Remember that your reluctance to have a baby may actually be a gift. It can turn you outward, looking after those who need another pair of hands. So who do you know that would welcome a little extra help with her children?

Love the babies in your life

Once you find children to care for, the next step is to work on sincerely loving them. One of my dearest friends just had her first baby after years of heart-wrenching infertility. Everyone who knows her is ecstatic about the birth of her baby girl, and I am no exception. It doesn't seem strange to love this sleepy little person, even if she is loud and smelly sometimes.

By loving children, whether nieces, nephews, or children of friends, you prepare your heart to love things that are hopelessly dependent. Loving other people's babies will smooth the process of creating bonds with your own tiny child someday.

Discover and overcome your fears

Finding out why motherhood scared me so deeply required many months of soul-searching. As you do the same, consider your interactions within your family, as well as your babysitting experiences.

Personally, I realized I was afraid I would angrily resent my children for what I would have to give up to raise them. Regardless of what your particular fear is, you have control over your character. While it's my personality to be passionate and energetic, I can choose to develop my character so that I control my temper and spread joy.

Maybe you find financial security very important and worry that motherhood will ruin all of that. This is a valid concern. It's nonetheless possible to trust God, make sacrifices and be able to care for your child's needs. Developing your faith, charity and responsibility will resolve your concerns. Work on acquiring character traits now so that later, when you have children, you will have already established helpful, happy patterns in your life.

Just relax

The other morning, I didn't want to get out of bed and was whining to my husband about it. "So don't," he said. "I know you have stuff to do, but if you lay here long enough, the need to get up and start your day will outweigh your desire to stay in bed. Just relax." He was right, of course, and it wasn't long after this conversation that I realized its wider implications. Typically, if you are healthy, happy and hopeful, the desire to have a child with your spouse will come of its own accord.

So take my husband's advice and relax. With these tips, when the time is right, your heart will be prepared to joyfully begin growing your family. You'll love feeling a warm baby against your chest, or talking to a toddler or making crafts with kids. You'll even learn to cope with 2 a.m. feedings, dirty diapers, temper tantrums and opening your heart impossibly wide to the little person that you made. In the meantime, just be grateful for today.

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