Part I Recap:
Naomi is hovering around 40 years of age. She is not happy with her life. She’s heard that one needs “more” in order to achieve some type of contentment in life. She made a list of “more.” We are now dissecting the list.
List of more:
1. Spouse/Long-term boyfriend. Status: Unachieved (see Part I for details.)
3. Satisfying Career
4. Financial Stability
Part I: Introduction continued
ITEM #2. Baby
When I was an optimistic youngster, I envisioned myself married with four children by the time I was thirty. Four, I learned from my parents, is the minimum number for a decent card game. As I matured, I recognized four kids would be too expensive if I wanted maintain the lifestyle to which I had intended to become accustomed, so I decided to settle for two and maybe a guppy. But then it happened. Age. I was never one to get herself knocked up in a science lab; I’m old fashioned that way. If I’m going to spend nine months of my life with swollen ankles and a beach ball belly, I want to have the sex part too. So, there were only two choices, get pregnant or see the Great Wall of China and pick up a baby at the duty free shop.
I was thirty-five years old when I moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn, my biological clock was thudding away, and I was not entirely at peace with my lack-of-baby/single status. The two were intertwined. Having a kid alone was out of the question. Along with my aversion to a laboratory conception, I never had the desire to be a single mom. Plus, if I was struck by lightning and suddenly becoming a single parent seemed viable, I’d have to move. The only space available in my apartment for a baby would be the cutlery drawer, and then where would I put my knives and forks? And seeing as how this apartment was rent stabilized and had great subway access, moving was out of the question. And, in the name of all that is wrong, I still had the fantasy of too many damn Disney movies stuck in the deep recesses of mind. Maybe, just maybe, my prince, in the form of a French pastry chef would ride up on his Vespa and whisk me away to his brownstone in Cobble Hill where we’d make beautiful bilingual babies together.
Perhaps it was a stroke of good luck, or divine intervention, but because Park Slope was teeming with infants I couldn’t help but notice them. As the objective sociologist I had christened myself, I formulated a hypothesis: If everyone was having babies, then babies are good and fun and make you happy. And if in fact this theory proved correct, I would become a one-goal automaton: an inseminator-seeking machine. I set out to observe my subjects.
Babies are loud. And messy. And they poop in their pants. A lot. And they don’t come with any guarantee you’ll like them. Sure they have cute little fingers and toes, and when they yawn you want to melt, but what if you get a lousy one? It’s not like you can just go to the Gap and exchange it for a pair of khakis. I looked at the begetters of these babies and didn’t notice any particular blissful glow of joy. Maybe their aura of happiness would shine through once they got rid of those bags under their eyes.
A good number of Park Slope mommies and daddies seemed to bathe in a certain self-satisfaction at their triumph of producing a child. This caused me great confusion. It’s not as if reproduction requires any special skill or training. The entire animal kingdom is proof of that. And from what I’ve seen on PBS, most mammals actually pay attention to their offspring. Not in Park Slope. Toddlers run screaming through the very tight aisles at the Park Slope Food Coop demanding another organic mango yoghurt while the parent is obliviously chatting away on their cell phone. Over-priced, tricked out Bugaboo and Perago strollers block the aisles of restaurants, coffee shops, and sidewalks, while we, the childless ones are inconvenienced to the point of invisibility. It’s not that I saw myself rearing a child in that manner, but it did make me think twice about joining the ranks of parents I’d be forced to interact with.
But beyond anything else I deduced from my sociological observation, I realized that babies take up ALL of your time, and that means they always come first. Always. And that’s the way it should be. Last I checked, infants are helpless and they didn’t ask to come into the world. When they are small and gurgle and just need cuddling, motherhood seems great. But when they are toddlers and they learn to talk back, break things and lie, motherhood doesn’t look so good. Fact is, it’s them. Them. Always them. As my life was heading into a therapy-induced torpor, I could not imagine actually being able to take care of someone else (hell, I could barely remember to buy myself toilet paper, you now want me to remember diapers? Puh-lease). Fact is I realized I had become too selfish to put in the work that requires raising a decent human being and not the spawn of Satan/reality TV star.
So it seems my theory proved incorrect. As of now I’ve come to the conclusion there are lots of things in this world that I need in order to feel whole and/or happy, but motherhood is definitely not one of them. I’ll stick to being an aunt to my three nieces and three nephews. I’m their “cool” aunt, aka Tanta Nono, in New York City who swears and passes them booze and junk food when their parents aren’t looking. At thirteen years old they each get “the talk:” Sex, drugs and the perils of high school. They confide in me when they can’t talk to their parents and in turn I experience unconditional love. Plus, I don’t have to pay for braces, college or post bail if it’s so required. And when they reach adulthood and head to therapy, it’s not me they’re going to blame for all their woes, I’m their fabulous Tanta Nono in New York City who can do no wrong.
1. Spouse/Long-term boyfriend. Status: Unachieved (see Post #1 for details.)
2. Baby. Status: Over it.
Join me next time when we delve into items 3, 4 & 5!