A musician friend of ours, a lovely woman with a gorgeous, sultry singing voice, had a baby in April. Very few of our friends and acquaintances are reproducing, so this baby was a big deal in our musical circle. We had bought a baby gift when we were in New Orleans in March, figuring we would be able to deliver it before very long.

For various and sundry reasons, not the least of which is that a new mom's schedule is pretty crazy, it took three months. But last week, we finally got together over coffee: me, Sweetie, our friend, and her now three-month-old boy.

Sometimes a mother is reluctant to let others hold her baby. But as soon as our friend walked into the coffee shop, she asked me if I would. Methinks she needed a break! And I was happy to be the baby holder. Sweetie is not big on infants. Her favourite age for kid interaction is about nine or 10. But I love babies! The little guy and I got along quite well. He has had a lot of family and friends around him since he was born, so he didn't have a problem with me even though I was yet another stranger.

I'm pretty good at this stuff for an old broad who never had kids. He's too young to sit up on his own, so I supported his head as he sat on my knee. I'm big on talking to babies, and mostly not in baby talk either. I had a great time keeping the baby happy whilst simultaneously engaging in an adult conversation with his mom and Sweetie. We took a break so his mom could change him. I'm afraid my lack of experience would have been obvious there. But I was totally enjoying being foster granny.

I felt a little tug at my heart when it was time for him and his mom to go home. Later, when I was doing my nightly gratitude ritual, I expressed thanks for the encounter. It was not easy. Sometimes, I get rather emotional during my ritual. Hanging with the little guy was a really good thing, but it was also a very emotional experience. I cried and cried. For me, being with a baby is always bittersweet.

Sweetie and I made our choice not to have children a long time ago when we first got serious about our relationship. And really, it was the right choice for us. Neither of us had the best childhood. We were busy with lots of other things in our lives, such as playing music. We did not want to be selfish, neglectful parents, too busy with our own thing to do a proper job of rearing our children. We both took a long time to grow up. (I'm not worried about my friend and her baby. She and her husband are ready for this.)

Especially within the last few years, however, I've felt the consequences of this choice. It's a bitch that when I final feel mature enough to take responsibility for another life, it's too late. I don't regret our choice. I really don't think I would have been a good parent at the time. I love that I got to do all the things I did in music and theatre. But it hits me sometimes. I will never have children or grandchildren.

Where the heck does this late emotional surge come from? Is it genetic? Hormonal? Societal? I suppose it's the usual combination of all of the above and more. It's nothing I can't deal with. But it's weird to be going through it.

Maybe I'll get to do some babysitting. If I do, I'll probably have to learn that diaper changing thing. Nothing like a little poo to take the romance out of having a child! But I think I'm always going to have a baby-shaped place in my heart, ready for whenever a tiny human being comes along.


holly said...

Great post! Touches me 'eart. I've been thinking about this lately too...friends are spawning and I'm 85% sure I don't want kids, but I'm a tiny bit afraid I'll have a hole in my life when I get older. I'm pretty sure I have a destiny as a crazy cat lady, though...

Ashley said...

I have this same conversation with myself, almost every day. I'm at the age where a lot of my friends are having babies, and every time I hold one, I think of how wonderful it would be to have one. We just bought a house with two bedrooms we aren't even using at the moment, so we have the space and we're in a pretty good financial place. But, this week, our dog used my office as her personal restroom and I was up cleaning dog poop until 2 in the morning and I thought, "Wow, this would suck with a baby every day!" There are so many positives and drawbacks to having a kid that it's not an easy decision at all. Sometimes I wish I'd get pregnant on accident and then the decision would be made for me. :)

All of this is just to say that I feel exactly what you're saying.