I met me a friend’s brand new, four day-old baby girl yesterday.
Oh my dear god do I love babies.
Let me just say that again. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, babies. Always have loved the babies. And cats.
Anyway, no matter how many times I meet a brand new baby (and there have been many times. I am a 32 year old woman, folks, I am surrounded by brand new babies), they never cease to completely floor me. It’s like a religious experience or something. I mean, you really want a miracle, just check out a miniature human being that just got made out of thin air and was living under water yesterday and is now sucking it’s sweet little, perfectly formed thumb, out in the daylight, like it ain’t no thing.
How did they get here?
And then I always look at the mother in amazement and say ‘dude, can you believe you made this??’, and then I look at the stomach from whence this baby just came and already it seems improbable, preposterous, ridiculous that this tiny little version of a real live human being was sitting in there just yesterday.
I mean, really? You grew in there? You came outta there?? Are you crazy??
Now don’t take all this waxing lyrical the wrong way – this does not necessarily mean I am clucky. You see, as much as I love babies, the jury has still been out on how I feel about children. You know, the kind that walk, talk, go to school and generally stick around for 20 years.
Not nuts about that idea. In fact I’ve always been somewhat mildly terrified by the walking, talking variety of child. They’re so demanding. Always needing to be entertained and fed and stuff. Parents, always say some variation of this theme:
‘It is THE hardest, most exhausting, challenging, difficult thing you will ever do. You will be tired, distraught, frustrated and at a loss. You will not shower or sleep or have proper adult conversations BUT, it is the most rewarding thing you could experience’.
And whenever I heard this I always thought:
‘Well that sounds risky’.
These anti-children thoughts were, however, challenged earlier this year when H and I took a trip to Uganda to do some volunteering. Volunteering with children was not on the agenda due to the sweaty, anxious mess they tend to make of me, but once we got there, circumstances dictated that volunteering with children was exactly what was gonna happen. 70 of them. Aged 5 to 15.
Cue sweaty anxious mess. I just dont know what to do with them. I’ve never liked children’s games (even when I was one), I don’t know what they want to talk about and I generally just have the patience of a gnat.
But one day, about a week into surviving the volunteering, I was squatting outside in the dirt watching them play hopscotch, soccer and elastics in their lunch hour. I was hot, exhausted, dirty and mildly annoyed. I had been yelling teacher-ly things all morning, I had been frustrated, distraught and at a loss. And as I sat there in this state, I was suddenly struck by an overwhelming thought:
I would do anything for these kids.
It was accompanied by an intense pain that seemed to come out of the sky and smack me square in the chest.
My first thought was that I had malaria.
But then I realised with unfathomable certainty that I had just experienced that elusive paradox that parents always bang on about. Despite all the crappy stuff, I was head over heels in love. And it didn’t make sense, but it didn’t make it less true.
Anyway, I was thinking about all this when I was holding that brand new miracle of a baby girl yesterday, and I thought well, maybe I’ll have them, and maybe I won’t. But until I decide, at least I’ve got you to coo my heart out to.