I knew I had no business being there when I slid into church late but real cool-like — and settled on a pew smack dab in the unofficial infants and toddlers section. For some reason, parents with small children tend to congregate on the right side of the sanctuary. Maybe it makes for a better escape route when they need to scurry out for tissues, potty runs, and hollering infant evacuations.
So in between drooly smiles from chubby babies slung over their mama’s shoulders and little ones toddling up to me with two-tooth grins, my body started to react to all of the overwhelming adorableness hitting me from every angle. I guess it was pretty noticeable to the people around me, too.
My friend leaned in. "Can you stop staring at that child like that? I'm starting to think I'll have to check your purse before we leave to make sure you ain't smuggling somebody out in it."
My own baby had the audacity to grow an inch and a half taller than I am and advance into the eighth grade, so I admit I am struggling with where the time went. I’m also longing for an opportunity to be married, have a chance to do it “the right way” with a husband, and experience the joy (and not-so-joys) of parenthood one or two or maybe even three more times.
Prior to defying my own better judgment, I had put myself on grade A, level 1 baby restriction. Everyone between the ages of zero and four was off-limits — no playing spontaneous games of peek-a-boo, no chit chatting in jibberish, and absolutely no sniffing their hair or touching their insanely soft, irresistibly cute little feet or hands.
Most of my close friends are restless to be with child too, whether they’re first-timers or repeat customers. My cousin, who turns 39 in August, admitted that she’s so anxious to authenticate her tummy paunch, which she calls a “kangaroo pocket,” she’s secretly been creating a stash of maternity wear. And then there’s me, hovering around the infant and toddler department in Target, smelling fresh packs of Pampers, and awww-ing over every teeny tiny sock, shoe, or onesie they put out onto the sales floor.
I think when most women reach a certain age, our reaction to babies shifts from passing admiration to full-out coveting. It’s like some kind of internal thread snaps the day after our 25th, maybe 27th birthdays, like a ribbon-cutting for the marriage and procreation segments of our lives. And since I’ve passed that 30-year mark, my gears are grinding and that biological clock’s been ringing on full blast loud enough for outsiders and passersby to hear. My apologies, y’all.
Now I should say that though this desire to dive back into 3 a.m. feedings, a gatrillion poopy diapers a day, and trying to translate 50 different types of cries does run deep, I would never sign myself up to be a second round “baby mama” just for the sake of bearing another bundle of joy.
With my last relationship in the dust and no prospect for a new one galloping into the present, looks like I’ll be waiting awhile. Some of my girls are threatening to check a dude for diseases, shake his family tree down for any sign of unbearable craziness, and make the procreation process into something like a business deal. Nothing says romance like adding a calendar appointment to your iPhone so that you and a stranger can use your ovulation period to get the baby making poppin’.
I understand where they’re coming from because at every turn in the media, in conversation, even in houses of worship, we’re reminded how hard dating and — if you can get that far — mating is for some women. Even as I struggle to keep my own reproduction organs from becoming the boss of me, I’m encouraging my fellow gals with boomin’ biological clocks to honor what we said back on the playground: Janelle and Idris sittin’ in the tree — oh wait, not that part. I meant this: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the long-awaited baby carriage. Until then, I guess I’ll keep on ticking.
What’s your cutoff age for having more kids, if you want them? How'd you come up with that number?
Image via Daquella manera/Flickr