I was at a picnic last week holding a friend’s adorable one year-old grandbaby when someone said the thing someone always says when a woman of a certain age is caught holding someone else’s baby: “whoa oh, look out, she’s going want another one.”
Really? Can I just say on behalf of all women out there, just because someone has a (presumably) functioning uterus, and is somewhere between too tragically young and embarrassingly old to procreate does not mean she’s somehow spontaneously going to decide she needs to add the complication of a(nother) wiggly, smelly bundle of anxiety to her life.
On my list of things I would want before that ever happened again might be the promise that I would get my figure back before a decade had passed, the blessing of a night’s worth of uninterrupted sleep on a regular basis, and lottery winnings of a level that would compensate us for the next round of diapers, day care, summer camp, school clothes and orthodontists. A new set of boobs might be nice too.
Babies are freakishly hard to handle on a full time basis. This is something I think most of us understand intuitively. Somehow we are still programmed to want to create them. I mean, thank God we are or else the species would die out.
Babies are cute for a reason. Otherwise no one would want them. They have more surface area relative to their frame than normal-sized people, so they get hotter or cooler more quickly than a bigger person, which is something someone else needs to take care because babies come without knowing how to take care of themselves. They need to eat every 20 minutes and have horrible hygiene. They are notoriously self-centered and require constant attention, but can’t tell you what they need.
In fact, they’re completely nonspecific when filing a complaint. I know some parents say they can distinguish whether their baby’s cry means anger, hunger or boredom. I believe that’s a bunch of boloney propagated by people who want to believe it’s true or else they’d have to admit they’re stark raving mad. There were only two cries my kids ever had, the kind I could ignore and the kind that demanded my attention, the latter being the case only by virtue of someone else being in earshot who could label me a bad mom for ignoring my crying baby.
Koalas are adorable too. So are bear cubs and pandas, and sometimes ferrets have their appeal, but just because I stop to look at one, or even want to pet it doesn’t mean I’m under some sort of spell and might just take one home with me.
I’ll tell you what’s all the rage these days, with me at least: teenagers and pre-teens – specifically, the boy members of the species, who will watch Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica with me over dinner. Girls of this age are pretty cool too. The ones I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know are adventurous and outgoing. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to stay in this place nearly long enough.
I was at a wedding this past weekend when a friend of mine gave his daughter’s hand to her handsome, young beau. As I watched my friend trying to look stoic as he walked her down the aisle, it struck me how short this time was that we had left with our own progeny, and how short a time it has been since they were little, round pudgy things whose cries we couldn’t understand even though we pretended to.
I thought that maybe, by the time this newly married couple procreated, I’d be past the age when I could hold their new baby and make people suspect I was having some sort of biological meltdown where I wanted to be the next medical miracle by having another baby well past the age when I’m sure my still barely functioning organs could handle cultivating a living being to term.
Maybe by then people will start looking at our two, handsome boys and ask them when they and their respective significant others plan on giving us grandchildren. I sincerely hope it will be awhile. I hope they wait until they’ve traveled and studied and loved like we were able to. I hope they have a chance to experience enough of life as independent, free spirited adults who don’t have to worry about someone else’s feeding schedule, or whether it’s a school night or if the person to whom they just served vegetables actually ate them or scooted them under the placemat again when no one was looking.
But I would support them getting a koala in the meantime.