I is for Infant
It’s become a routine in the last few months, I don’t even ask anymore. Some of my favorites have had new babies and I wordlessly extend my hands to receive them. I am not concerned about drool.
I’ve never been one of those girls who loves babies. For a long time, I worried about this. But it’s funny how saying something out loud takes away the power. I said it and no one hated me. I said it, and nothing changed.
But something changed, for the better. I’m less afraid of little ones now. I don’t worry that I’m going to break one with a touch. I don’t worry that their parent will snatch them from my hands if they begin to cry. I would not say that I love babies, but I would say that there are babies that I love.
One of these babies belongs to my pastor. This week, I stopped by her office and watched him roll over slowly. We smiled at each other and I squeezed his little feet. One recent Sunday, we sat together at coffee hour, him bouncing gently on my lap. There is something very nourishing about a coffee hour with a baby held close.
Another friend, a writer, has a little girl who never fails to lift my spirits. They invited me for dinner a few weeks ago and she spit up all over me. I was not disgusted or worried. I am washable.
I think that perhaps these children can sense my lack of fear. I’ve held both of them during brunch at a restaurant. One of them fell asleep on my shoulder in the sunshine. After years of worrying about how kids were responding to me (and more than one babysitting occasion where the children would not sleep) I had started to wonder if I might be an agent of wakefulness. It was a delight to be proved wrong.
Now, during the week, I will sometimes think it would be nice to hug a baby.
When I first went to therapy, before I had even committed to the relationship, I said: “I want you to know that I don’t want kids.” I told her about the therapist I’d had before who told me that it was fine if I didn’t want kids now, but that when I got married I would want to “create life with my husband.” She agreed that this was a terrible thing to say on many levels, but then she said: “I wonder if you’re afraid. I wonder if as you heal you will find that you feel differently.”
My biological clock is not ticking loudly and I’m still not sure where kids fit into my life. But there is a thaw. My desire to have children of my own is in the infant stages.
The other day I was driving when Macklemore’s new song for his daughter came on the radio. I started to cry. As with most music that produces tears, I can’t tell you exactly why, but I think it had something to do with Ed Sheeran singing about how he’s still growing up. That’s how I feel, too. How could I even consider becoming a parent when I’m still growing up?
I once heard Rebecca Stead, wonderful children’s book author, speak about writing. She said that she still worries every day that she is a fraud. She has won the Newberry. If she feels this, it must be all right. I feel this way about writing sometimes, but also about adulthood. Sometimes I wonder when someone is going to walk up to me and ask me what I think I’m doing driving a car, wearing high heels, or filing taxes. These are grown up things. But I’m still growing up.
I’ve always known that any person I fall in love with will be someone that I continue to grow beside. I’m not sure why I didn’t think that would be true of children, even if they aren’t strictly mine.
This past summer, I went cherry picking with my friend and her sweet little girl. My friend stood on the ladder and picked cherries and I sat on a bale of hay so that her daughter could sleep on my thighs in the sunshine. That day, she gave me a nickname I want to print on business cards and hand out to strangers: “Auntie Gravity.” Growing up against all odds.
This post is the ninth installment of a series called A to Z, one for each letter of the alphabet. These posts will be in order, about whatever strikes my fancy, posted each Monday.
To read "A is for Aravis" click here.
To read "B is for Bacon" click here.
To read "C is for Cake" click here.
To read "D is for Depression" click here.
To read "E is for Email" click here.
To read "F is for Finally" click here.
To read "G is for Grace" click here.
To read "H is for Hope" click here.