Other People’s Children

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It appears that I am in that stage of life where people start having children.

A good two thirds of my friends now have children. I have committed no such offense.

I always thought I was a lover of children. They’re cute, full of wonder, brimming with potential- in short, kids are magic. Right?

When my friends started getting pregnant, particularly my oldest and dearest friend, I practically boiled over with enthusiasm “OMGTHISISSOEXCITINGI’MSOHAPPYFORYOU!!!!” and I became very involved. I’ve thrown more freakin’ baby showers than a First Wife in Utah. But I underneath it all, I thought “Does this mean we’re not going out for drinks tonight?”, and felt vaguely hostile to whatever partner had been a party to this action.

Being the single friend of a herd of mommies is, to say the least, a little boring. Or at least temperate. But that’s ok, right? I mean I get all the joys concomitant with being an Auntie!

So I threw the baby showers and I sat for hours with my hand on somebody’s belly pretending to find joy, rather than mild horror in the fact that their abdomen was actively morphing before my eyes like a lava lamp.  And then the babies were born and that was very exciting and I oohed and aahed and listened to birth stories, all the while thinking “Wow, that’s so neat that you managed to shoot something the size of my cat out of your goods and only TORE a ‘little bit’!”

The other day when I visited the aforementioned “Oldest and Dearest” and her offspring, I finally had to admit- This is some BULLSHIT!

Her ten month old son, my “nephew”, is now fully mobile, trucking around the house forward and backward like a Kenyan marathoner leaving a trail of destruction and paranoia in his wake. Their furniture has been rearranged to more closely resemble a bullring than a living room, and the floor was a veritable sea of baby-friendly trinkets and doo-dads. Our conversation consisted of nothing more profound than “Omg, don’t let him crack his head on the table!” and “Uh, please make sure he doesn’t eat that” and “Isn’t it wonderful that he’s walking at 10 months?! He’s ahead of the curve!” It was complete and utter chaos. To top it off, the darling joy has had a cold for nearly a month and was exuding rivers of green snot as he careened around the bullring. His parents looked absolutely destroyed.

Then my girlfriend’s mother, a fine English woman who was always a second mother to me, arrived and disintegrated into a cooing, babbling lunatic reminiscent of that strange lady on the bus bench that no one talks to. I had to wonder if these weren’t the early signs of dementia.

Meanwhile, Speedy McSnotface was all smiles as he attempted to fill my mouth with bits of pre-chewed wrapping paper from the Christmas gifts I had brought along.

I couldn’t form a coherent thought. All I could think was Oh. My. God. Why do people do this voluntarily?!

But then it was decided we’d all go out to lunch! “Great,” I said “I’m starving”, little knowing that it would be nearly breakfast the next day before we got out the door. I think all told, there was a stroller and two large duffel bags consisting of a million diapers, 25 blankets, 30 bibs, 45 baby snacks, a couple of those two handled sippy cups so Speedy McSnotface could practice double fisting his beverages, and 263 baby toys.

When we got to the restaurant, there was a lot of awkward standing around the table waiting for something to happen while husband and wife quietly bickered over “Well did you ask for a highchair?!” “Yes, he’s bringing the highchair” “Who?! Who did you ask for the highchair?!” “THAT GUY COMING TOWARD US WITH THE HIGHCHAIR”.  Then we sat down and promptly there was strawberry lemonade all over table and baby, as the glass flew out of Speedy’s hand across the restaurant, and it was off to the Lady’s Room to keep Speedy from getting sticky.

As my blood sugar dropped, and every deeply ingrained aspiration of motherhood drained from my soul, leaving a void that only liquor could fill, I scanned the room for the nearest emergency exit and realized that EVERY WOMAN OF CHILD BEARING AGE was watching us and looking wistfully at Speedy. “REALLY?!?!” I thought “Every woman (and some men) wants a piece of this?!”

My girlfriend used to be so cool. She did wilder things than I, went to swankier places and wore shorter skirts. Now she’s a sleep-deprived mass of duffel bags and bulb syringes, and licks spoons full of half gummed baby food.

I always thought I’d eventually want kids. I assumed that there would be this moment when I knew “I MUST do this!!” But there hasn’t been. And I’d love to say that if I fell madly in love with a gentleman who was educated and employed, my body would ache to issue a Snotface of my very own. But my dog and two cats all poop outside. I put some kibble in their bowls and scratch them behind their ears and they’re good. They don’t want college money. They don’t care if I bring home a gentleman caller. They don’t object one bit if I kill a bottle of wine and fall asleep on the couch. They’ve never gotten anybody pregnant and they will never grow taller than me and say “Fuck you, Mom!”

Maybe the ASPCA should take up a new marketing campaign…

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