I noticed it on the bus the other day, and now I notice it everywhere.
Babies seem to catch my eye. They see me and lock eyes, encouraging
goofy faces of surprise and glee from my usual deadpan public transport
It's as if they know I'm "of an age" and still childless. They
know the secret of my late-blooming desires. I have always said
that I liked to think I'd want children some day, that I just didn't
have the urge -- yet. And still no "yet."
But I'm under 40 and feel no pressure from an internal maternal
clock. And I'm just about to sanctify for the state and family my
committed relationship to my fiancé. I like to take small steps:
quit the job before getting the next job, decide to move and then
find an apartment, one day at a time. I'm about to get married and
be legally bound to the man I love. I can't think about what's beyond.
And yet babies have been smiling at me lately.
Were I more inclined to paranoia I would view it as a conspiracy
of nature: creating these cuddly-looking bundles of smiles to entice
us into wanting one. How can we resist? Particularly those who don't
mind acting the fool with exaggerated lips and wide open eyes -- "coo-chee-coo, little one." I do get the oddest looks from other
The other day in the local produce market I ran into a friend
with his baby. Lucca looked at me from atop his father's shoulders
and gave me a sparsely toothed grin. Flirt that he is. It's easy
to imagine that he might be like that all the time, perennially
generous and winsome.
Experience tells me otherwise. My friends' children can be alternately
melodramatic, cranky, glum, whiny, inconsolable, or just plain furious.
Just as they can be whimsical, cheerful, wondrous, exuberant, charming,
and so full of life. Like anything, there are trade-offs.
Perhaps when I'm passionately settled in my relationship -- no
longer making the loneliness trade off for being happily single
and unfettered -- I'll be able to consider a baby of my own, tantrums
and all. But for now I'm contented to sit back on the bus and respond
to the babies who smile at me.
I now have a 16-month old child, so I guess it worked.
Amy F. Pitsker
writer - editor - teacher