I’d always wanted a child. A little girl. That was the plan for a long time. But I was way into my thirties, still single, and having a kid on my own didn’t thrill me. One old boyfriend even offered, asking me to “bear his babies”. Ha! No thank you. He was a serial baby-maker. He had children scattered all over town.
But two separate events, totally unrelated, took place just a few months apart. And together they changed my path forever.
I’d moved from Chicago to Atlanta in April of that year, taking up residence with F, my high school bestie who’d made the move many years earlier. We shot pool in the dining room and had parties almost weekly. She was a social butterfly. Still is. She’s never met a stranger. Everyone loves being around her.
In August, her mother, Miz T, came to town. F jumped into her Cabriolet convertible, zipped to the Greyhound bus station downtown — Miz T doesn’t fly — and soon returned home with mom, a newly adopted baby brother named Joshua, and a car full of baby paraphernalia.
Within five minutes our party house became a baby house.
There was a foldable playpen, a high chair, a stroller, and a brand new car seat that F had purchased at Target on the way home. Boxes of diapers, disposable bottles, and piles of onesies, towels, and tiny washcloths had taken over the pool table. Rattles, pacifiers, and jars of Gerber baby food were scattered across the kitchen countertops. Q-tips and cotton balls were everywhere.
I stood in the kitchen and did a 360, amazed by the transformation. It didn’t hit me then but the idea of turning my home over to a baby, and how distasteful that would be, had begun to take form.
Three months later my niece, B, gave birth to her first child. I couldn’t get out to Alpharetta fast enough for a visit. B is several years younger than me. Lively and vivacious, she possessed one of the tightest and most beautiful bods I’d ever seen in person. Had, I’m sad to say, is the operative here.
Greeting me at the door, she had barely managed to throw a flimsy robe over her swollen and lactating body. The baby was wailing and as B struggled to breast-feed, I got a good long look at the fresh stretch marks across her belly and hips and the broken veins along her thighs.
B was over-the-moon to be a mommy. But seeing the damage that carrying a baby had done to her beautiful young body scared the shit out of me. I’m ten years older. What would having a baby do to me?
For a month these two events, the takeover of Baby Joshua and B’s ravaged body, haunted me. I waited, expecting to get passed all that and back to my fantasy of meeting a nice man someday and having a child. But I had to admit it. The idea of it now turned me off.
I didn’t want the future home I envisioned to become a big playpen. And with my round tummy, who knew how hopeless visible abs would be for me after carrying a kid in there for nine months? When I realized that I just didn’t want to do it anymore, that I had become too self-centered and set in my ways to make room for a child, I scratched “BABY” off my bucket list. Giving up that dream wasn’t easy. I cried for three days.
Now, I don’t know how the spirits work in your life or if you even pay attention to such things but for me, the blessings of cause and effect come into play pretty regularly. I’ve got to let go of something before something else, something better, can happen.
Sometimes it’s related. Sometimes not. But I can always feel the miracle when it’s taking place and just weeks after making the decision to remain childless, I met my husband-to-be. With two ex-wives and three kids, he came fully loaded. The last thing he needed was another child.
I wondered if God and the universe had been waiting for me to get to that point before introducing such a nice man into my life. I wondered if I would have been a shitty mother. Who knows? But I do have regrets sometimes. It looks like I’ll never be a grandmother either. I was hoping for that at least but it just hasn’t worked out. Maybe I’d be a shitty grandmother, too.
But a few weeks ago I attended a wedding and had the chance to spend some time with the three adorably rambunctious little flower girls. The bride and her bridesmaids had showered the trio of sisters with gifts and their brand new toys and dolls were scattered across the floor. The sound level, with all of them screeching and squealing at once, was off the effin’ charts.
Just the day before, at the wedding, I was in full envy of their mother and grandmother. The girls were so beautiful, swaying in long gowns as they dropped flower petals along the aisle. Why couldn’t one of those little angels belong to me?
But today there was madness, the kind of madness that you just know goes on with them every single day, and after sitting on the sofa for a while watching them wreak havoc — just kids being kids — I stood and made my way to the bathroom. I closed the door, looked in the mirror, took a deep, cleansing breath and smiled. Regrets? Only sometimes.