Tuesday 29 January 2013
The 'b' word
I've been thinking about babies recently: the when, the why, the how. I guess it's been more in my mind as friends of mine have given birth over the last twelve months; and as I sail off into my own marriage the annoying questions about babies are likely to follow. Actually, they've already made it out of the mouths of many.
I am not a person who loves babies. I find them boring, and most people who have them even more so. I like to think of myself as a creative and interesting person, with funny stories to tell, about all sorts of things. Does giving birth mean I will only be able to converse in buggies, nappies, feeds and post-birth body effects? Does it mean all my stories will revolve around impressions of my ever-growing baby; giggles at things only I have seen. Other sane non-baby people will lose their faith in me and my stories. They won't understand me. As I lose blood, my hair, sleep and sanity will I also lose my passion for the written word; lose my desire to do exercise and run the streets of where I live; my love of travelling; my want to cook; my need to be with my friends, just them and to also have time alone? Really alone.
As I was growing up, having a family was something I saw in my future. Then I stepped into my twenties and life passed in a whirl of studying, teaching, partying and lots and lots of travelling. That future family got pushed further out to the horizon. I was having too much fun living to worry about giving life to someone else. I was selfish and independent. To some extent, I still am. Though now my selfishness includes other people. Progress I think.
But I was a baby once and I grew up, so they don't stay that way forever. I think I'd be better with little people, teaching them art and words and dances and place names. I'm not sure how I'll be with teaching a baby not to put Petits Filous pots in their mouths. Babies grow up and become fun sponges: learning, experimenting, experiencing and retelling the world in their own way. That's another fear, though - it has to be their way in their new world. The world is not the same, and I fear for the children I don't have and their ability at 18 months old to search for photos on an iPhone and their knack for scanning multiple screens while never actually reading anything.
Ideally, I'd be able to take my future children to an island where tree-climbing, shell finding and digging holes for no reason are the order of the day; where browsing means wandering the aisles of a shop; and surfing is something mum is rubbish at, but we're great at standing on our boards and riding the waves. Now, I'm a romantic. I know, I know, if that's what my children are going to be able to do when they're grown up, I'm setting them up for failure in this world - something we're not allowed to let kids do these days apparently. Shame.
Yet if I want a try at it, I need to have a baby: that same need that means responding to those prying you've-just-got-married questions with a "not yet". Some time. Soonish. In the not so distant future. I'll never be prepared. How can you be? The 'b' word is big, it's breathtaking. I still need to make sure I can Be. Me.
And when the time comes and my husband holds my hand, reads my eyes and says, "Let's do it" I'll have to not answer with that other 'b' word.