Having gone through a relatively long period of time, let’s say 15 years, wherein I didn’t want children, finding myself viscerally hungering for one is a change of pace. Because, you see, I didn’t just sort of not want one, I REALLY REALLY didn’t want one/any.
In the early days of my lesbianhood (or discovery thereof), I imagine I just didn’t consider children as a real possibility. I mean, sure, this was the early nineties, of course I knew that lesbians COULD have children, but the lesbians in question were still appearing on Oprah and talking about how complicated it had all been; how they’d had to cross state lines to find a doctor willing to inseminate; or they’d had to fly to Uganda or some such faraway place to even locate the sperm in the first place, and well. It just seemed like an awful lot of work for a squalling wee thing. Plus all these lesbians were LARGE AND IN CHARGE, if you know what I mean, and they sported mullets. I was as guilty of wearing ill-fitting men’s clothes and ties as the next babydyke, but the mullet? Everyone knew better than to grow a mullet. (Until, of course, it became the province of the eternally hip and bored, the same look that comes in skinny jeans and ironically dirty plaid shirts, and I think I just proved my point about the mullet ALL OVER AGAIN).
After college, I continued on my merry non-baby having way, first preoccupied by first jobs and first apartments, first cars and first mortgage payments. Incidentally, my choice in LOVER at the time leaves much to be desired, making even the contemplation of motherhood totally ridiculous, not to mention OUT OF THE QUESTION. I mean, I dated some real yahoos in my day, and given how poorly suited they were for dealing with me, a full-fledged adult mostly capable of forming complete sentences, their potential skills with an infant were, uhhhh, SUSPECT.
As per usual, I must make an aside to say, that with ALL, and I mean ALL, due respect to single mothers everywhere, that is not something I could do. I know not all single mothers are that way by design, but some are, and to both types, I SALUTE YOU. But for me, the concept of single motherhood, much like black holes and basic physics, is not something I am capable of comprehending. I just cannot conceive (OH HA HA, I SLAY ME) of trying to raise a baby on my own, especially not given my tenuous grasp on my own mental health. That is some shit that requires BACKUP.
And thus I considered myself to be essentially headed down the path of permanent childlessness. And this was fine, as I dated other women who were steadfast in their desire to remain childless, and I started to grasp the sheer cost of raising a human being, and well, it still did really seem like an awful lot of work.
I must also mention that my mother went back to school to become a genetic counselor when I was a teenager, which means I sometimes helped her with her studying. What sticks out most in my mind is the MINDBLOWINGLY enormous stack of flashcards she made herself, these listing every single possible genetic anomaly, and the impression I am left with is that it is motherfucking amazing “normal” people even happen AT ALL.
And then a woman I sort of knew through a friend had a baby. And OH MY GOD, did I become everything I had heretofore considered myself to be above, to wit a babbling, googly-eyed baby crooner, loathe to let anyone else hold that little bundle, even sometimes (I KNOW, I AM ASHAMED OF MYSELF), his mother. Good god, could I have made a more complete about-face? I am happy to report all my friends had (and continue to have) a good laugh at my expense, and richly deserve it I DID.
Since then, there have been more friends with babies (what’s up, my thirties?), including a non-large, non-mullet-sporting pair of lesbians. Speaking of which, does EVERYONE now have a set of lesbian neighbors? The number of stories I hear that start with “well, the lesbians down the street…” is sort of astounding.
Which brings me to my point (AT LONG LAST), which is that a friend has a six-week old, and since I am currently gainfully unemployed (have I mentioned that?), I agreed to spend Wednesday afternoons tending to little D so that mom could, oh, I don’t know, shower, or pee, or whatever other thing seems totally normal to do daily until you have a small helpless appendage with you. So D and I walk around the yard, or hang out on blankets, or spend some time on our tummies (D finds this incredibly annoying, while I find it disgustingly charming), and I know this makes me deeply cold-hearted, but I giggle when she gets so mad she screams- she’s just SO ANGRY for such a wee munchkin.
Here’s the thing though- I get to hand her back. When dad gets home from work, I hand D off to him and head home to the three cats, who’s needs are painfully simple by comparison. I open a can of wet food and plop down in front of the television, my responsibilities complete for the day. But D’s mom is still there, still trying to figure out if one scream means she’s hungry or wet, if she needs to be swaddled or unwrapped, if she’s cold or hot or tired or just motherfucking over it all.
It turns out I was right when I was younger, it REALLY is that hard. But watching a little baby try and figure out how to smile is just about the most heartbreakingly beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I should have been wondering about all the things having a baby brings to you, instead of how hard it is to raise one.
So I’ve officially changed my mind (and my hormones have had their own opinion about the whole thing for some time now)- I’d like to have a baby of my very own someday. I’ll start saving for my plane tickets to Uganda.