The Big B Word
I've been thinking a lot about babies lately. Not because I’m having one. And not because I’m remotely ready to have one. But everyone else in the entire world, i.e. my entire Facebook news feed seems to be having them, to which I say, “Wonderful!” and “Awesome-o!” And I mean it gal-pals. If you will be/have/or are currently in the process of hossing a tiny human out of your hoo-hah, I congratulate, commend, and respect the shit out of you.
Actually, let me amend that. If you are currently in the process of hossing a tiny human out of your hoo-hah, allow me to say how flattering I am that you chose this little blog as your distraction so that you can pretend your husband/wife/partner isn't there saying annoying and not-at-all-helpful things to you and get on with your deep breathing already. (I’ve never been in labor, but I watched a lot of Lifetime television one summer. I know how it goes.) I’m taking it as a compliment. You can thank me later. Just don’t send me the placenta for my garden. I don’t have one. A garden that is. Or a placenta for that matter. If you’re really thankful, however, you can absolutely feel free to name your baby after me instead of your husband/wife/partner’s deceased great-aunt Ophelia. Then your baby can thank me. But the placenta rule still stands.
I’m at a really interesting point in my life, one that I hadn’t noticed until I got married. You see, for those of you who haven’t gotten married yet, let me tell you - once that ring is on your finger and you’re a Mrs. WhateverYouChooseToBeCalled, suddenly your uterus becomes subject to the public record. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is absolutely fascinated with it. Strangers in Wal-Mart will see your wedding ring, ask you how long you've been married, and then immediately launch into the line of questions about your lady bits. “Are you having kids?” “When do you want to have your first baby?” “Are you pregnant now?”
Or, if you are in particularly backwoods parts of the country, i.e. where I live, you’ll get, “You’ve been married 6 months you said? Well what the hell are you waiting for? Stop practicing and go on and make a baby already!”
I almost threw up all over Carter in that Harris Teeter. And all over the clementines, too. But I didn’t because I am, if nothing else, in control of my gag reflex.
That sounded really bad. But I’m not going to try to explain it because I know myself and I will only make it worse. So, pretend that I am successfully explaining myself to you and how that was not at all meant to sound bad. Be creative. But remember – in this visual of yours, I’m doing incredibly well and not digging a hole to anywhere. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Ok. Now that that’s done, let me tell you a little story. It’s not a story, really, so much as it is an experience I had in Target. Carter and I have a couple/friends who recently had a baby. And she is precious. But this took place while she was still in that beautiful blonde oven of her mama’s. I was in the baby section at Target looking for a gift for the baby shower, which, come to think of it, is still in my living room. (Baby L, I promise I will bring you your present and I’m sorry I’m such a terrible and forgetful friend to your parents. You’re such a gracious and forgiving baby that I just know you’ll understand. Kisses!) Something otherworldly came over me. I was holding the tiny baby socks and giggling over the little onesies embroidered with baby monkeys and baby elephants and cute sayings about how grandparents are cooler than parents. As I stood there, wondering to myself if there was anything in the world cuter than a baby sock, a woman approached me, clearly very expectant, and smiled. She was radiant with pregnancy, absolutely glowing, it seemed.
WOMAN: They’re adorable, aren't they? The socks are always my favorite part of buying the outfit.
They’re the cutest things ever.
ME: Yes they are.
And I thought that we were just sharing something womanly: she, the vessel for a growing life, and me, a person who cannot keep an orchid alive currently but one day hopes to have children. I thought that we were bonding over the simplicity of baby socks and the joy that they represent. But I guess, then, that I shouldn't have been surprised by what happened next.
(And no, for you sensationalists, her water did not break all over my boots.)
She reached out, touched my stomach, and said:
WOMAN: So when are you due? You look like your 3, 4 months along.
ME: Oh, no. No, no, no, no. I’m not pregnant.
WOMAN: Oh, my God. I’m so sorry. Please – I am so sorry.
ME: No, it's fine. I'm happy about it. I’m not pregnant. I’m just chunky. No baby here! Just a pioneer metabolism and some tacos.
She scooted away as fast as that baby would let her. I realized a few things in that moment:
1. The time for excuses was past. The time of Weight Watchers had come. (Did that sounds as Lord of the Rings-y when you read it as it did when I typed it?)
2. People have no boundaries where babies and their production is concerned. They simply don’t exist.
Maybe it’s an anthropological phenomenon, a remnant from our hunter/gatherer days when we all lived together in large family groups and basically raised each other’s children, schtupped in the same animal husk dwelling, and were witness to every single moment of one another’s lives. We have evolved to no longer need our appendix, but we ain’t evolved so far that the uterus is no longer a community affair. Because it totally is whether we like it or not. (Don't believe me? Check out what your politicians are most concerned with. I'll give you a hint. It's yours and it rhymes with shmashmina.)
Is it such a bad thing? I’m not sure.
Is it so wrong that complete strangers are so enamored and overjoyed by the thoughts of new life that they will literally break all comfort zones and social norms regarding appropriate personal space to ask you about your plans to have children? Is it so terrible that people fixate on asking you,to the point that you almost want to pull a Frank from 30 Rock and make a trucker hat that says, “I’m not having kids for 40 years. So don’t ask.” And then to continue it onto a t-shirt that says, “What? You think that when I’m 65 I’ll be too old to have a baby? Poppycock. But it’s none of your damned business anyways.” (Because all of that is way too long to put on a trucker hat, no matter how big a head you may have.)
Again, I’m not sure. Is it a bad thing for me? It’s inconvenient and often embarrassing, but these people mean me no ill will. At worst, they are expecting me to be brimming with an excitement matching their own at the prospect of children. And their enthusiasm albeit wildly inappropriate, is appreciated, even though it’s difficult for me not to run away quickly as my first reaction.
But what about my friends who don’t want kids? What about the hundreds of thousands of women who have taken authority over their reproduction and said, “Hell no! I won’t go!”? I respect them. In fact, I respect my friends who have firmly chosen not to have children more than I respect some of my friends who have wandered aimlessly into having them. (Again - some, not all.) It’s a difficult choice and one which, I’m sure, can be hard to defend at times. Like when the cashier at Wal-Mart asks you when you’re going to start having kids and you say, in a matter of speaking, “No babies coming out of this vagina, ma’am. I’m forgoing the whole mess.”
Odds are that she’ll continue bagging your groceries and not speak another word of it. Odds are. But there are always exceptions. And what about then? What about when your wishes for your body conflict with the wishes society has for your body? I can’t answer that.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, I’m not sure. I’ve never assumed that someone is having children, but I may be in the minority there. Again, I just don’t know.
I wasn’t aware of this public fascination with my fallopian tubes until I got married. I was warned of it, sure, by other childless, married people, but I never believed them. But here I am, 5 months married, and still I carry on, childless and more than happy about the fact, brushing off the questions with as much grace as is practical. But what I am slowly becoming aware of now, is how this lack of children places me within the Blogosphere.
I’m in an odd space. I love reading “Mommy Blogs,” but only the good ones, both for their fierce honesty and their pluck. There is a lot of pluck. And often a lot of utterances that rhyme with pluck. But that’s another story. I read these blogs written by amazing women, all going their own way via Attachment Parenting, Tiger Mothering, or, and this is how I was raised, “Are you bleeding from your head? Are you dying? No? Then walk it off, sugar!” Parenting.
I read these blogs and realize a couple of things. First, I am nowhere near ready to be a mother. Maybe it’s because I’m still too selfish. Maybe it’s because I still have to buy generic dish soap. But either way, we’re not there yet. Second, these blogs make me realize just how odd I really am, even if I’m not alone.
Everyone’s got a schtik. Chris, at Life Your Way!, writes a humor blog, and a damned good one, but she also nurtures to a growing empire of followers suffering with chronic illnesses like her own, readers who come to her every day for commonality and a place to air their grievances about their “glitches.” I read Mommy Blogs, Craft Blogs, shit, I just started a Food Blog. But Nested remains this awkward little place that, I think, has yet to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. And is there anything wrong with that?
When I do have kids, will Nested become a Mommy Blog? Or will I be able to do what Bev and Amy and akl andJenn have done - to blog about both my children and myself? It’s an interesting thought, readers, and one that has been creeping into my mind with increasing regularity now that sperm has apparently been dumped willy-nilly into all the public water sources. And I mean that, kittens – literally 4 out of every 10 people I know are pregnant or just got done being pregnant.
That’s right: e’erybody’s pregnant. I’m ecstatic for them, but I’m just not there. Maybe Nested and I are growing up together and maybe it doesn’t matter when we have kids or if a book comes out of this or if I never ever become a respectable Mommy Blogger and always stick to the schtik that I know – which seems to be pointing out horribly uncomfortable and oft embarrassing aspects of my life that make you, my dear readers, thankful that you don’t dream of giving birth to baby penguins or debate with your husbands the syntax surrounding the introduction to Lord of the Rings and whether Tolkien got it “perfect” or not.
So yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about babies, not because I’m in the least bit ready to hoss a tiny human out of my hoo-hah, but because I’m in the holding pattern. I’m in that transitional phase in between “F*ck no, I ain’t havin’ no babies for a really long time” and “It’s not gonna be for a while, but I’ll be damned if those baby socks aren’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” It’s transitional and it’s not going to last forever so I’m enjoying it. My blog and I both are.
Maybe it’s because I’m ok with this holding pattern that I’m learning to not become enraged when a random stranger asked me about my reproductive plans. Sure, it’s annoying as hell, but is it wrong that they ask? Probably. But I can’t hold them to standards to which I don’t hold myself, a person who has been described on multiple occasions as “intrusively curious.” I may not ask you about your vagina and it’s produce, but I sure as hell will ask you why you put a herringbone vest on your cat and “Don’t you know that he has claws and will probably seek revenge for that by murdering you in your sleep and then slipping out the doggie door before the cops can get there?” Because I care!
I’ll figure it out, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll have kids. And maybe I won’t. There are thousands of tiny steps between now and then and I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’m enjoying the walk, if you will, and will, perhaps, begin to fight fire with fire.
STRANGER: So, when are you and your husband going to start a family?
ME: I don’t know. Maybe when I’m 50. (Which is, what I thought as a young child, to be the age at which one had a child.) Or maybe when my blog gets 20,000 followers. Or when my husband wins the lottery and/or Nobel Prize for Ethical Leadership. Or invents one if there isn't such a thing already. Or when my doctor tells me that if I wait any longer my uterus will literally petrify and fall out for me to keep in a little glass jar on my nightstand. Have a nice day!
And y’all have a nice day, too. Happy Friday.
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