I know lots of women who always knew they wanted kids. I was never one of them.
We already have enough people in the world, I always thought, so why do I have to go through the bother of having more? Plus, kids seemed like a total pain. They shit in their pants and whine and generally get in the way of you having a good time.
I wasn’t particularly excited when I learned my brother and his wife were pregnant, and when my baby niece came I didn’t care much. She reminded me of all the other babies I had ever seen. I remember my brother bringing this little bundle of boring humanity into the bathroom early in the morning, saying “look! Auntie is brushing her teeth!” It was too early for baby talk, and I barked at him to leave me alone.
I did have to admit she was spectacularly cute. But she just did what all babies did: cried, pooped and demanded a lot of work. My brother and sister-in-law were over the moon, and clearly expected me to be.
About 11 months later they came to visit. They were staying with her sister, who lives in New York as well, and I grumbled all the way to the Upper West Side to see them. As I walked into the apartment, I prepared myself to have to goo and gah over a little baby who wasn’t very interesting.
But then I walked in and stopped in my tracks. Crawling around on the floor was this gorgeous, adorable little creature. She had delicious ringlets of dark blonde curls and a killer smile. She looked up at me with big, shining blue eyes, as if she had never been so happy to see anyone in her entire life. She was babbling random nonsense words with great conviction, as if she knew what they meant. Then she grinned at me and I said:
I honestly didn’t know what had happened to me. I felt my heart grow huge and glowing and then it burst out of my chest and expanded and grew as big as the room. Who was this spectacular thing? Was this the little squirmy baby ruining my morning bathroom time just months earlier? How did she get so cute, so fun, and so full of love?
“Oh my god,” I said out loud. Inside I felt the questions keep coming. What just happened to me? And how did I never understand this before? Who am I now?
I was 31 years old. I didn’t know then if I wanted a kid, but I sure understood why people had them. I think it was the first time I really understood love. And why love is so great.
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