As a child-free person who enjoys her child-free, Peter Pan lifestyle, I am frightened, Auntie-Em. My husband in no way wants kids. And I get around a baby and I am terrified wondering if I am scarring it for life just by being in the same room with it. Nevertheless, every coo, scream, and wriggle makes me smile.
I also used to think I disliked most kids. Kids always seem to see through my bullshit and say hurtful things. Kids get in the way, kids are the reason that most of my adult friends are no longer available or no longer want to be around me because I'm not "family friendly" or I'm "unpredictable." That is becoming less true as well. As I get older I respect what children feel and think as just as valid as what I feel and think, with fears and concerns and ideas and joy just like I have.
I went to an awesome backyard barbecue this weekend and took to this tall nine-year old girl who was a very old soul. We bonded over laughing at dumb horror movies, the absurd fun of odd yoga positions, and laughing at other people getting hurt from falling. And whenever I left the room she made me promise to come back so we could keep gossiping about her classmates and I could help her come back with awesome things to say to mean kids like, "You are a hater and I don't have time for haters!"
Her comeback was better. This one girl told her she should have a license for being so ugly and she told her, "I do not need a license because I am beautiful. Also you dropped your license, you should be more careful." Girlfriend was wise beyond her years, so aware of her concerns about her changing body and what laid ahead for her in the future like driving or starting a family. I was not like this at nine. At nine I was all about fart jokes and pretending I was Ariel from The Little Mermaid. In fact at thirty-two I am still all about fart jokes and pretending I am Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
I felt like I was nine years old myself and it was awesome to do things that nine year olds do and talk about things that nine year olds talk about. It was like being at a sleepover, something I have not done since my early twenties. I felt needed and loved in a way that made me feel nervous and giddy and maternal like I've never felt in my life. It was both frightening and exhilarating. The best part about it was that my friend Elizabeth was there so I could bond over her with it too.
"That child is me, isn't she? I am like that, aren't I?"
"Both of us were like that once."
I see Elizabeth as a sort of authority figure because, like me, she is not a mother, but she has been an aunt for most of her life and a great-aunt for about five years. Earlier in the afternoon her great-niece, who is normally fussy depending on if the wind blows wrong, miraculously napped in the tender crook of her elbow. It was like magic.
But then I came home and my apartment stunk of rotten veggies in the trash and my clothes were all over the floor along with shopping bags, and the bathtub was still grimy, my financial situation still shaky, and I am still seriously unable to function or take care of myself. And when I think about it I'm not ready to give up my life for someone else. And when I say my life, I don't just mean my lifestyle of being a total slob who can't take care of herself and never makes future plans. I mean my whole life because when you become a mother the person you were vanishes and your child is your whole life. At least, that is the type of mother I think I would be. And I don't want that.
I think I am confusing motherhood with being a child. I do not want a child as much as I want to be a child or redo my childhood. I love the smart women and men my friends and loved ones grew up to be, but I hate their responsibilities that keep us from just calling each other up and rolling in the grass all afternoon with the dragonflies, the tree swings, and the rain showers sprinkling over our ecstatic faces.