As work soulmate, Ms. G, and I finally make it out of the building this afternoon, the stench of middle school boys on an 80+ degree day left us grateful for the breeze that wafted all afternoon. Another coworker stood on the front walk, waiting for the last of her students to get picked up from a field trip that lasted beyond the end of the school day. Her husband waited in an idling car with their infant son. I’d never met the little snuggle bug and I was thrilled when Ms. M retrieved him from the car and gave me a few moments of smiles and squishy baby legs before I headed home to write a 15-page paper on gifted underachievement for grad school (Note: 4 pages down, 11 to go). Ms. G saw me light up at the blond prince and commented with a chuckle, “and this from the one who says she doesn’t want a baby.”
Ms. G teases me in good fun, but she echoes a popular question I get: Simone, you’re almost 29 years old. You’re getting married in two months! When are you going to have a baby?! Don’t you want to be a mom?
I love babies. I really do. I love their soft skin and their little snores. I love their tiny hats and socks. They have itty-bitty fingers and toes that seem almost doll-like. I love little, fat, baby legs. I sat with my sister, holding my newborn niece, arms aching from being in one position for hours so that she could get some rest after a 24-hour labor process. I never reach out and touch a pregnant belly, hoping that she’ll remember and let me hold the wee one when he/she arrives. *hint hint, prego friends*
I even love crying babies. My friend Sofie has a 2-month-old whose hobbies include screaming at the top of her lungs and pooping on her mommy. Aunty Simone will happily hose Jenn-Jenn down in the baseball field parking lot between little league innings with a questionable bottle of water I found in the back of J’s car. I’ll gladly walk the length of the field, humming “If I had words” from Babe (Yeah, the pig movie) until she decides that sleeping is better than causing premature deafness.
But I don’t want a baby.
J and I are relatively young and certainly have time to start a family of our own. But what does that mean, of our own? Does that make Flipflops who would defend me with his life, or MacGyver who makes me laugh when I want to slap him, or Little One who gives the best hugs not our own? Are my kids less my kids because I didn’t give birth to them?
Just as importantly, J and I have the kids full-time. That means a teen, a tween, and a 9-going-on-3-year-old tantrum thrower that make noise and messes in the house like it’s their job. I spend all day arguing with teens and tweens that I’m not allowed to smack, and all evening trying not to smack the ones I’m allowed to. I’ve had to make rules I feel ridiculous for speaking into existence (no kneeing your brother in the genitals when he bends over backward), constructing and reconstructing chore charts, and finding socks and underwear in places you’d never suspect. I walked in on a family in progress and I’ve made myself one of the pack.
So I’ll hold your baby, snuggle them, give a bottle, or run interference when random strangers try to get too close. I’ll stack up blocks over and over just to watch them get knocked down. I’ll be a great aunt, a human bouncy chair, and someday an overindulgent grandma. But I don’t need a baby to feel complete. I certainly don’t need one to be a mom.