Yesterday I went to visit my 5-month old, translucent-haired, blue-eyed angel of a niece, and I was reminded of the amazing power a baby can have over a room of grown-ups. Something as simple as a smile or a burp can turn every adult in a 20-foot vicinity to mush. In my family, we’re definitely whipped.
My mom and dad bought the baby a stuffed animal sheep on their most recent vacation, and every time I tapped it against her tummy and made a psst noise, she broke into hysterical giggles. She had the entire family mesmerized and cracking up right along with her. Every belly laugh she gave sent all of us into a frenzy.
On the drive home, as we gushed about how cute she is, I was hit with the now familiar mix of “I want” and “I’m terrified of having” a baby.
I’ve always seen myself as being a mom one day. I’ve spent hours and days of my life babysitting and working as a nanny. I’ve taken care of 2-month old twins, out of control toddlers and even unruly teenagers. I feel like I’ve accrued an ample amount of experience in the child-rearing arena. But the older I get, the more afraid and unsure I am about having kids.
I think the reality of what it all means becomes more crystallized with each passing year—making my fear grow and grow. When I was young, it just seemed like you had them, fed them, changed them, helped them with homework and sent them to college. However, now I see that you have to change your life. A lot. You can’t just take a nap whenever you want and stay out a half an hour later than you ‘d planned. You can’t eat girl scout cookies for dinner because you have someone else to cook for. You have someone else’s life in your hands. You have to protect them and shape them and teach them. It’s a huge responsibility that just gets more gigantic each time I think about it.
And this makes me wonder: Am I really cut out to handle it?
I’m really great at being an aunt and a babysitter. Maybe that’s all I’m supposed to be. Maybe that’s how I’ll get my kid-fill for eternity. Just plug those yearnings with other people’s children.
Then I think about being pregnant. In addition to always thinking I’d be a mom, I definitely always wanted to be pregnant. The thought of someone else invading my insides, moving around when they felt like it, keeping me awake at night, giving me a big fat stomach—it all seems fascinating. I cannot imagine not experiencing that. And maybe that’s enough.
Maybe wanting to take the first step is all it takes to handle becoming a parent. After that, you just tackle the next step when it’s in front of you.
I’m sure I’d be filled with trepidation if I stood at the bottom of a 14,000 foot peak. But I also feel confident I could climb it. Especially if there were cute smiles and belly laughs along the way.