Baby Haters

I think I’m really sensitive to this because I, too, spent most of my younger days being grossed out by babies and poop and spit up. I felt like omg, everyone expects me to just swoon because a smelly baby is right in front of me. That being said, none of my family members really ever pressured me to have children and I think a lot of that kids-in-my-face business was my imagination. In retrospect, if I didn’t want to hold a person’s baby, they didn’t force me; they left me alone if I said, “Oh, no. I’m afraid I might drop him” or “I don’t want to be thrown up on.”
I was married for six years before we even discussed the idea of thinking about it. He loves children and wanted to have them if I was up for it; I was child free by choice until I was almost 34.
What it all came down to was my own upbringing. I was scared that I might royally mess up a kid because I was afraid I didn’t have the skills or emotional strength to keep my shit together. My mom had a notoriously short fuse and would often throw at or hit me with anything in her hands.
I was also petrified of the idea of childbirth. I grew up thinking I would never get married and never have kids.
But then I did. Both. And now it seems I run across people like I was, but worse, a lot. Is it karma? Did I bring this on myself? Maybe you just have to get older and know yourself better to understand the exact reasons why you think you can’t stand children.
I mean, I wasn’t especially vocal about my feelings. I would never have had said I “hated” children, and I wouldn’t have posted about it on the internet all the time. I see this a lot on pages I’ve “liked” on Facebook. I’ve seen entire web sites dedicated to how retarded parents are. People yank photos from their social networking pals’ pages and submit them to web sites that pass judgment and point fingers and call the parents nasty names. It seems really popular and super trendy to despise children.
Do I love every child I meet? No. Do I ooh and aah over every infant I meet? No. Do I scream in baby talk at kids? No. The older my daughter gets, the more interesting I find her, and the less interested I am in taking care of another infant.
Like I said, maybe I’m just hyper aware, but it seems as though there are hordes of child-hating females on the interwebz. Maybe it’s just that the anonymity allows people to be more open about it. Maybe there have always been women like this throughout history, but they’re only now comfortable enough to discuss it openly. But they all like to talk about how different they are, how they’re going against the grain, how they’re bucking the system, how alone they are in this. And then twenty other women agree with them on one post.
I want to scream at all of these people that they, too, were children once, and how would they like it if they knew that a stranger they’d seen at the grocery store or a restaurant was thinking, “Jesus, I just fucking hate kids.”
I don’t want to get all hippy-dippy and kumbaya on you, but kids really are the future and it really does sometimes take a village to raise a child. In the US it seems we have two types of people that are the most vocal: those who are so focused and extreme in their parenting that they can’t be flexible with their children and parenting styles at all (baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding, cosleeping, baby-led weaning, everything has a name and EVERYONE has to find a way to identify themselves), and those who think kids are soul-sucking, filthy, disgusting creatures whose mere presence is an insult. I don’t think either person is right, but I wish they could all step outside of themselves for a moment and notice how ridiculous they sound.

Shitty Birthday

Today has been one of the shittiest birthdays I’ve had since . . . well, last year. That was pretty bad because we were facing eviction and the landlord threatened as much when we called her out on all the rats and bugs and mold.

This year, though, it’s been even more special. Right before heading to bed last night, I found out that a friend from high school passed away earlier in the day. She and I were arrested together in the 1992 Broad Ripple sweep.

Then I discover that both my remaining grandparents’ health is declining dramatically. My grandfather is in a nursing home and has suddenly lost the ability to get in and out of bed on his own, bathe himself, or even feed himself. My grandmother (from the other side of the family) apparently had skin cancer removed from her arm and it isn’t healing properly, but she won’t go to the doctor because her regular doctor is on vacation until the end of the month? What the fuck?

Then I spend all day waiting to hear the results from my biopsy that took place on Monday. I called yesterday. The nurse calls at 1:30 to say I’ll hear from the doctor later on. No one calls me. I call this morning. Nothing. I call this afternoon. The nurse finally calls again around 4pm to say I “might” hear from the doctor this weekend if she “does homework,” otherwise, the doctor won’t be back in until Tuesday. But I can call on Monday if I want to.

Jesus. 

This Week

Monday afternoon I have an appointment with a fibroid specialist downtown at Northwestern. This will be the third time I’ve made the trip and I will be getting an endometrial biopsy. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little freaked out.

Tuesday Bea starts preschool.

Friday is my birthday. Thirty seven. What the hell?

The Beginning of Letting Go

Yesterday we took a tour of Bea’s preschool. We met her teachers and the kids in her class, she got to see where her cubby will be, and finally had an opportunity to go on the playground that she’s been staring at wistfully for the past year. We had to physically drag her out when it was time to head home.

But when we got home, finished lunch, and started reading books in her room, she asked who would be snuggling her at nap time when she’s at school. I didn’t know how to answer that other than to say, “Well, you nap by yourself at school, like on a cot that we take with us on trips to Indianapolis.” And I realized that being able to stay home with her for three years has been a pretty amazing opportunity. Even though there are days when I have to go sit in my bedroom and take deep breaths while she shouts at me through the door; even though I can’t always go to the bathroom by myself; even though it’s been a real financial struggle at times; even though I’ve been working and going to school all this time and am not, actually a “stay at home mom” . . . I have had a hand in creating this little person, molding her into the person she is now.

Almost everything she knows, I have taught her. She can count to 20 in English and to 10 in Spanish, knows a couple dozen signs, spells her name, recites the alphabet, recognizes shapes and colors. She is outgoing and social, friendly, good at sharing, listens, responds to nonverbal cues, empathizes with other people, behaves herself at restaurants (for the most part).

We don’t drill her with flash cards. She watches a lot of TV. We spend time just playing. Sometimes we do nothing. I try to keep her time with electronics limited, but Charlie likes to just hand off the iPad and chuckle as she navigates her way to and through the Netflix app to watch the shows she enjoys. I try to show her how we read from left to right, top to bottom. I don’t force her to write or trace or color in the lines. I let her be a kid. 

But there are still things she needs to learn that I’m not capable of teaching her. Math, for one. There are times when she really needs to be with other people and I’ve had my fill of socialization. Times when I can’t chat with one more mom about her kids’ food allergies. Times when I’m so irritated with the parents and their children’s screaming that I have to plop Bea into her stroller and power walk home. 

And there’s a large part of me that, after three years, will feel a little lost when I’m at work and school while she’s learning new things and meeting new people and making new friends, and I’ll have no part in any of it. Hours of her day that are unaccounted for. New words she comes home having learned. One day she’ll be able to write her own name, tie her own shoes, or pass some milestone on her own, without me or Charlie being the ones to hold her hand as she leaps.

That realization breaks my heart a little bit, but I hope that I’ve given her the tools she needs to feel independent and secure in taking those leaps and that there are plenty more I can still walk beside her for.