Or maybe I’m weird. Or maybe kids are weird with me, and I am weird with kids. Either way, there’s some weirdness going on.
When I was younger, I never gravitated towards the baby dolls. You know, the one’s you had to feed, to nurture, to burp when they cry. I used to gravitate to the play kitchens, because I thought being my own chef would be cool (Gordon Ramsey – if you’re looking, I have years worth of fake experience). I used to play memory games, because I wanted to exercise my brain. I used to play with Bratz, because I always had a passion for fashion and the ability to express that through these dolls was something I valued. What I never found myself doing, was playing the role of ‘mommy’. My parents bought me toy babies, and my friends would try and play ‘house’ with me, but I was always disinterested. Growing up, this lack of maternal interest manifested. I detested baby-sitting, I found it redundant to try and speak to little kids, let alone babies. I was terrified of holding a baby up until last year. Throughout high-school, when I finally had an adult-ish brain, I would always be the “no babies for me” friend, to which all of my other female friends would gasp in disbelief. Always met with, “how don’t you want kids?” or “don’t worry, when you get older that will change”, I found it pretty exhausting to try and justify myself, so I would change my answer to “yeah, maybe one day!”, or a simple shrug and a laugh. Only when I really started to grow and become more of an actual adult, rather than ‘adult-ish’, did I find myself questioning my values about child-bearing, and kids as a whole.
See, to me, I never saw the appeal. I remember going on a trip with my little cousin and my family 3 hours up North, in which we were stuck in the backseat together. The entire ride, I was met with questions that made me want to rip my hair out. “Why is a tree called a tree?”, “How old are you?”, “How do you say Giraffe in X language?” – all to which I replied half-heartedly, waiting for the minute she’d shhhhh. Every moment of silence I would use as an opportunity to pretend to go to sleep; earphones in, eyes closed, regardless of how wired I truly was. This was all to gain just a little silence from the pestering questions that I didn’t have the patience to answer – I never did the whole dumbing down something to explain to a child in your highest pitched voice thing; wasn’t for me. But EVERY TIME my eyes would close, not even 5 seconds later, I would feel a little tap tap tap on my shoulder, and I was forced to remove my earphones and entertain another game of 21 questions. Soon enough, I would have her asking me if she could play with my hair after licking her ENTIRE hands, front to back, clean, Post-Cheeto’s. I can’t even try to paint a picture for you all of my face when she asked to run her sticky, saliva’d fingers through my hair, but I’ll just say that I was absolutely horrified at the idea.
No lie, these were my exact thoughts. Here, though, is where I should explain that I do not HATE kids. Hate is a strong word. Let alone, my family. I actually love my family, and all of my little cousins to death. But, do I find myself disconnected from some kids more than others? Absolutely. And that’s because sometimes, I just can’t produce that maternal, loving aura that other women around me know how to do so effortlessly.
Anyone who’s ever known me will say that my feelings about kids has evolved in some way. It used to start off with a general dislike for all children of all ages, before I got to know all of my wonderful baby cousins. It then evolved to being able to tolerate the idea of them, but force me to hangout with one and I’ll be the one crying and throwing a tantrum. Now, I’ve found myself in limbo. I sort of dislike them, but I sort of think some of them are really cute?
Somewhere around last summer, not long after the horrific Cheeto-fingers incident, I found myself seeing super cute, fresh out of the oven babies, and not being totally repulsed, even expressing how cute I thought they were. No, not EVERY baby – but some. And to my friends around me, this was weird. I held my first baby ever last winter, after years of fearing I would drop them/not knowing what to do with them, and I cried the entire time. They weren’t tears of sadness or fear, but more of awe. I was in awe that something this beautiful, this innocent, this peaceful, could be created by two people. Two people! It’s SO simple! A wonderful little creation that drowns out any background noise is brought into this world (unknown to them that this world is actually a soggy pile of dog-shit at the moment, but that’s neither here nor there), and they can’t even hurt a fly. That’s when my relationships with new-borns, specifically, started to change a little bit. I found myself constantly questioning the new mother’s around me about the experience, and am still so intrigued. But still, my feelings constantly slide from one end of the spectrum (get that child away from me) to the other end (Awwwwwwww that kid is sooooOOOOooOO cuuuuuute).
I used to think that maybe I was just a frosty bitch who possessed zero maternal instinct. I don’t think that’s true anymore. With my friends, family, and even animals, I possess a very strong maternal instinct. I care deeply, I love passionately, I am unwaveringly loyal, I am protective and I put others before myself all the time – all qualities I see in the mother’s that I am surrounded by that I adore and admire. But put a kid in front of me, and ask me to converse with it? I can’t quite seem to make that instinctual maternal connection. I treat them as if they were my equal and it’s just another day at the office, when really, that’s not the case. Kids at different ages mature differently, and must be treated accordingly. But if I’m not talking to a kid who possesses the same level of maturity as me, with the ability to form full sentences and competent thoughts, then I’m not talkin’. I’ll find myself becoming uneasy and out of my comfort zone, clambering for the right words to say – almost as if the little thing is judging me? But does that make me a cold-hearted bitch who is unfit to be a mother, should I choose to become one? No.
I’ve come to learn, based on observation and discussions with current mothers, that there is no rule-book to being a mother, or even a woman. Sure, there may be a guideline that gets ‘Dropboxed’ into the files of your brain once you give birth and somehow you find yourself KIND OF knowing what to do and say – but how you raise your kids, and what kind of mother you’ll be, is all up to you. It’s comforting knowing that if I ever do settle on a decision and choose to have kids (because I’m always wavering), that when I push those suckers out of me, I don’t HAVE to do the whole baby-voice thing. Will I? Maybe. Will I also talk to my hypothetic kids as if they were already grown adults? Probably. Will I decide that I actually definitely do not want kids, but instead, adopt a heap of dogs that I can mother? Seems like a great plan too. My options are so endless.
The whole stigma around not having kids is total bullshit. Does it make me a monster if I don’t want kids? Absolutely fucking not! Am I unlovable because of this? I don’t think so. I used to be scared to tell my s/o that my feelings on the whole “having kids” thing change like the seasons because I feared they would think I was mean, or even worse, stop dating me because they can’t see a future with me. But I know I can still be a kind-hearted, philanthropic, feminist bad-ass boss-lady, and not have kids. I can still invoke some kind of good change in the world, and share my love with animals, my family, my companion and OTHER people’s kids, without having my own. Why do women who bare children automatically get the title of “best woman ever”, as if they’re fulfilling some kind of ROLE that all women were ‘meant’ to fulfill? I’d like to think that in today’s society, we are becoming more accepting of shifting family roles/relationships/sexuality/marital institutions and what it means to be a woman, and that’s pretty cool. More and more, the dialogue surrounding motherhood is opening and expanding, and the stigma around it is being challenged by those who are unable to have kids, or simply don’t want them! You don’t need to justify yourself to the naysayers!
Listen, maybe in a perfect world, we’d all be baby booming! But this isn’t a perfect world. And people aren’t perfect. Fuck, some of the mom’s I’ve heard of kind of really really really suck. You know, the one’s who get their babies high and that kind of thing.
So I’m going to try and sum this up but I’ve also been told that summarizing isn’t my strong suit (3 hour storyteller over here):
Kids are weird. I am never going to think of them differently, and you can quote me on that. I still think a lot of kids are pretty gross, sticky, and cry a lot, and their inability to be on the same wave-length as me until they’re teenagers drives me up the wall. But, on the same coin, there are kids who I can shoot the shit with despite all of those annoying little characteristics. Right now, I think I want to have 2 boys. That can change! But what I know is that I will not be the cookie-cutter, baby-voice, ‘cutesy-tootsie’ woman that society thinks is the ‘right’ kind of woman. Sure, It could be that in a few years time, should I actually choose to have kids, that will change and you’ll see me toting a “#1 Mom” mug, driving a mini-van . But I doubt it. It’s how I’ve been since I was old enough to walk, and how I’ll continue to be, because that’s just who I am. Can’t change myself all for the sake of fitting societies definition of the right kind of woman.
So, to all of you women who aren’t sold on the idea of pushing a big head out of your vagina (or adopting!): you’re still lovable and loving. To all of you women, like me, who are extremely unsure about where you stand: you are allowed to be uncertain, and you will know when you know. And if you never know, well then there’s your answer. To all of you women who are so excited for motherhood: you are strong as fuck! just don’t ask me to babysit!
Looking forward to updating you on my status of children in the very, very far future!
Do your kegels,