What a heartbreaking thread this has been for me to read, but it proves once again that it does take a village to raise a child.

My mom had a lot of children and loved us all pretty equally (OK, she liked the boys better, but dad loved the girls, so it balanced out. And then, when we became teenagers, they switched!) But without all the aunts and uncles and visiting cousins, I don't think either of them would ever have had a moment for themselves.

I do understand how a person could feel that they wished a child had never been born. I felt this, guiltily, about most of my younger brothers and sisters. They wore me to a frazzle. (Some still do, if you want to know the truth...but I love every one of them.)

I think that it's the intensity of the responsibility that is causing most of the unhappiness. Some people have colicky babies, and these even scare me. I don't know how I would have handled it if I had had a difficult child. (Probably not well, since the one I did have was incredibly easy-going, and I was still stretched to my limit raising him.)

Sometimes it is the inevitability of labor that frightens a body nearly to death. I can remember during labor a feeling that there was no escape. Never had I felt so trapped. I was tied down on a table, wired for sound, and in agony, and there was no stopping it until finally the doc decided to do a C-section. If I tried, I could conjure up that feeling even today, 18 years later. Had it persisted, I would have wanted to leave my child somewhere to escape the dread.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that as these children grow, they will become less dependent and more companionable. You will be proud of their accomplishments because you worked so hard to help them achieve them.

One thing I do know, though, is that if you want to love your child, you will. Even if you don't now, if you want to, you will grow into it. Children are nature-designed to be physically appealing just so our ancestors didn't leave them behind when they changed caves. Granted, sometimes they can behave so abominably that you might want to leave them on the steps of the church, but that's where your village comes in. In a large family and community, mothers, grands, aunts, friends, etc. all help each other to raise their children. If you're doing it all yourself, you're exhausted. If you don't have the support of a family and/or friends, please try to cultivate relationships with helpful, loving people. You may still feel overwhelmed at times, even most of the time, but over time and with love, you may find that your little one will love you more than you've ever been loved in your life.

God bless all the struggling mothers.

Mary Sweeney
Irish Culture Editor