14 August 2012
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Everyone I know is pregnant. Okay, not EVERYONE, some of them already have kids, but I swear that it's a baby invasion. I guess I'm at that age.
I only use "invasion of the body snatchers" as a joke. Sort of. The reality is that the concept of pregnancy and delivery scares me on a level so extreme that all I can think of is that scene in Alien when the alien bursts out of John Hurt's chest (and I end up totally pulling the face that Ian Holm is at the start of that scene). Every time I learn about a new aspect of pregnancy or delivery from my friends who are mothers, like that time I Googled "episiotomy" (do not do that if you don't know what one is), I seriously consider sterilization. And all the people are having the babies.
Don't get me wrong; I am happy for my friends who are expecting because they are all so excited and enthused at the prospect of growing their families. I just don't know what to do with the idea on a personal level.
That more than anything demonstrates that I am in NO WAY ready for babies myself.
I say, "Oh you're pregnant? Fantastic! Let me tell you how that makes me feel."
Gah! I'm a selfish tit! I'm still going to write this though.
Babies are kinda cool. Kids can be hysterical. Adam says I light up when I'm around babies and children. I say they amuse the shit out of me and I can light up because I can always give them back to their parents when they start crying or pooping or trying to gouge their own eyes out. I have momentary commitments to these small persons, not a minimum of 18 years.
I also have no idea how to talk to kids. I cannot gauge the ages of children, either, or determine what is age-appropriate.
"Oh, he's four? So, what is he reading lately? Moby Dick? War and Peace? ..."
Teenagers frighten me on a level even beyond the chestburster scene above. Like scare me to my core. Eventually, I will explain my most recent interaction with teenagers en masse and why I think corporeal punishment should be brought back in a big way, but that's a story for another day. I know some wonderful teenagers, but I've known them since they were born and I used to babysit them and they're chilled out and independent and non-judgmental. They are, from my experience, not the norm.
The thing is, I'm pretty sure I didn't understand kids when I was one. I certainly didn't understand teenagers when I was one. Nothing confused me more than the way some of my peers thought and acted in high school. Make fun of the way I dress? Um, okay. Make fun of the fact that I speak up in class? Fine. Insult the kid with disabilities? Or the fat girl? Or the poor kid? Pretend you don't know someone's name after four years and 15 classes with them? What in the name of fuck is wrong with you people? And now I see teenagers have only gotten worse. They have more Internets now. (And also, get off my lawn!)
My point is, I am not ready to sign up for being responsible for one of those things. And from my understanding and limited experience, babies will inevitably grow into teenagers, even if you try to put them in jars to keep them small.
Babies and toddlers are frightening to me on a different level, though. I get so panicky around them, and the only way I can describe watching a child do something potentially dangerous is that the backs of my knees get nauseous. Watching a friend's 18 month-old leap into the pool into her grandmother's arms made me feel faint. I suppose these are my Olympic worrying skills at work. Obviously, she was safe and watched by an entire party of like 40 people, but I still freaked out (on the inside). She's also damned cute, which doesn't hurt.
Little kids are fall-over funny though. Friends of ours have three boys between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, who are probably the smartest, funniest little dudes out there. And their parents are totally laid back and cool and just take everything in stride, which is probably why their boys are so chill. My kids? Holy neuroses, Batman! I'd probably give birth to 7 lb., 6 oz. Woody Allens.
More than those realities, though, is the idea of carrying around what I can't help but think of as a parasite for 9 months. Yay! It's a miracle! (No one ever says that about a tapeworm.) I know they're not technically parasites, but like, okay, it scares me when mothers-to-be are like, "Look! You can see the baby's foot pushing out from my uterus!" And all I can think is, "That is some Wes Craven shit right there."
It's fascinating, sure, and I do believe that it has to be so truly and utterly amazing if you're excited about parenthood. And I'm not even such a sourpuss that when people post their ultrasounds or 8 million baby pictures on Facebook that I get annoyed. Certainly not. Kids are adorable. I support the theory that nature ensures that babies of all species were cute so we wouldn't kill them, but that's another issue altogether.
I actually welcome those baby pics, and I wouldn't install those horrible Facebook apps that actually filter out your friends baby photos. Frankly, you're a shitty friend if you do that. Friends SHOULD be happy for one another when such monumental things occur. If you're not happy for your pregnant friend, your friend who cannot stop posting about her wedding plans, your friend who thinks his kid is a six-year-old Picasso, then maybe you don't deserve to be their friend. They deserve better. Their kids deserve better. You should just get the fuck over yourself. Sometimes, the highlight of my horribly-stuck-in-job-search-mode day is a friend posting a video of his daughter talking at him for a half-hour straight while he attempts to install a garbage disposal. Hysterical! Or a friend sharing her day at the beach with her awesome son. Adorable!
I think more than anything, I'm simply cut out for vicarious parenthood. I want to be the awesome aunt, like my own aunt Karen. Or like, the kooky cat lady who lets your 3 year old into her oil paints and sends the munchkin home with a painting that won't dry for six months, because that makes sense.
Our society places so much onus on women to procreate, sometimes distilling us to nothing more than uteruses with heads. I don't really have a desire to procreate, but that doesn't mean I am not happy for those who do. Some women are made to be mothers, in addition to all that they are, some are not. It's that simple.
But it's not simple. I still don't know if I truly do not want my own kids (whether natural or adopted). Adam doesn't know, either. He says he would love to be a coach for a kids' sports team, but we live in an ugly world where if he weren't a father, we both fear he'd be regarded with suspicion should he do so.
For now, though, I can be ecstatic for all the wee ones popping up here and there in my social and familial life. I can share their parents' joy, because that is kind of what life should be about; not necessarily having children, but sharing the happiness of others.
Even if that happiness comes in the form of a sticky, sweaty, first grader.