Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't Know Nothin' About Babies

Some women can't wait to get their hands on a baby. If a mother brings her child to the office, they reach out for the little one, anxious to feel the magic of a child in their arms again. Me, I back away because I don't even know how to child properly. Babies take one look at me and start crying.

My mother had the gift. Babies always seemed to know they were in good hands with her, but she had lots of practice. Her brother was much younger, and Mom was the designated babysitter. She had lots of younger cousins, too, so she knew how to handle babies, how to hold them, how to feed them, how to diaper them, how to get them to stop crying.

I grew up in a different era in a different kind of family. When my brother was born, I was still a baby myself. My parents didn't have any more kids. All the children on our block were the same ages as Mike and I. I did not have babies around to take care of--unless you count my Tiny Tears doll. When I tried babysitting in my teens, it was a disaster. I'll tell you a story about that in another post.

As a young married woman, I was surrounded by other young married women who were not ready for children. If they had had babies or if my first marriage had lasted longer, maybe I would have gotten used to being around them. But I got divorced, and when I married again, I married a much older man whose kids were nearly grown and whose friends' children were already adults. I missed the baby train altogether. I got a small taste with the stepgrandchildren, but not enough to compete with experienced mom-types. I still can't put on a diaper so it doesn't fall off.

Dogs are a different story. I am a fully qualified dog mom. But I missed the training for people moms. How about you? Did you grow up with lots of babies around? Were or are you surrounded by women who have children? Are you comfortable around babies, or are you stranded on the Planet No-Kids like me? I'd love to hear your experiences.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I spent a lot of time around babies, I'm pretty comfortable but more so around puppies!

professionally childless said...

As a teenager, I'd say I was a professional babysitter. Comfortable around kids, their parents liked me, the works. But then I went to college and then grad school. I went through a phase where, as a 20-something, a baby meant the end of your career. Babies were to be avoided, not cuddled - they were simply not part of my life and I didn't think about them. I figured I had plenty of time to get back to that some time in the future. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way for me! I love babies, children. I have nephews who I love spending time with, the crazy monkeys. It is the biggest regret of my life that I didn't focus on making a family sooner. I am in my 40's, married only 2 years, and childless. After 6 IVF attempts, it looks as though it will stay that way and I am heart broken, in a state of despair. I am glad I found this site. I don't know what else to do.

Suelick said...

Professional, my heart goes out to you. I'm glad you found us. Maybe someday you can show me how to handle a baby. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have been around a few babies, but I'm not entirely comfortable around unfamiliar babies. Years ago I lived two doors down from my sister. She had three children, all spaced 2 years apart. I was there for all three births and was at her house every evening after work to help cook dinner, bathe kids, and just play. Those kids, I could do anything with. Then she moved to the other side of the state and now I only see them a couple of times a year.

Other kids, well, I just haven't had a lot of time with them. And it seems to me like they must be able to pick up on that... the tiniest ones always howl when they are handed to me. :-)

As for puppies? I'm a pro! I can take care of any dog, any size, any age, any temperament. They all love me. :-)

My name is Libby.

professionally childless said...

Thank you, Sue. My advice to you is, next time someone plops a baby in your lap, think of it as a puppy with a big head. Not too much difference, really. They both need food, sleep, and warmth. They may even like the same type of toys. The calmer you are, the calmer they can be. As you know dogs, other animals, and human beings can sense fear and anxiety coming from someone. Whether an infant is capable of doing so ("I make babies cry"), I'm not sure. But it's a start to set your anxiety aside (if it's there at all) and to think of the lovely new "puppiness" in your presence and what joy it brings. The good news is that you get to hand it back to the parent when it starts to cry!

Suelick said...

Libby, I'm with you. Pass the dog.

Suelick said...

Pro, thanks for the advice. Puppy with big head. Got it. Next time I have the chance, I'll put this advice to work. Somebody pass the baby. :-)

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this site. I have always been great with kids of all ages. I even worked with infants who were born drug-exposed for many years. I love babies as well as kids of all ages. For many years I was the one who everyone left their kids with. They always said "someday you are going to be an incredible mom!" Unfortunately I guess they were wrong because today is my 42nd birthday and I am about to marry a man who has 1 child and does not desire to have any more due to my age. As the years went by and Mr. Right didn't come along, I always figured I'd adopt. But now he has come along and that is no longer an option. We rescued a dog about a year ago and I was hoping that would help fill my need to nurture. Now he is one well-loved mutt but my desire to parent has only grown. I hope at some point I can come to some internal resolution on this and the pain won't be so intense. For now though, I'm taking solace in the fact that I am not alone.

Suelick said...

Anonymous,
Happy birthday.
You are not alone, and the pain will recede to occasional waves of grief. I don't think it ever completely goes away. Meanwhile, you have Mr. Right and your dog. Don't let your sorrow over not having kids keep you from enjoying what you do have.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I must say that I'm so glad too that I have come across the blog of Sue. I'm not a native speaker of English and far away from US but it seems that the childless women have same concerns. The only problem is that I haven't found any Sue's-blog-like sites to share the experience and find comfort and support/advice so will have to improve my English!
Secondly, I might be a little younger than most of you - and what I'm also looking for here is your experience - what will I be like at my 40s, will I regret, will I be unhappy with my life etc.
Thirdly, regarding the topic - I could always get along with children (not babies). I was a teacher at summer camps, had younger cousins and brother and other children around. But no babies - I would be helpless with diapers too. When my friends started a baby boom one after another, I wasnt really liking the situation and felt I'm coming from another planet and ... of course didnt know anything about baby-food, injections and deceases and couldnt participate in the conversations. I was desperate at this time as I just acknowledged my husband is infertile. A year or two passed and I can handle now the grown up babies - but it doesnt make me happy - I want to escape from the place where they babies are.

Suelick said...

Anonymous, thank you for joining us. Your English is fine. How will you feel when you're older? I think you'll probably feel happy sometimes and sad at other times. Just yesterday, as I was leaving my motel to head home, I watched a young father loading his car with a stroller, diaper bag,tons of other baby gear, and a screaming child. I had my guitar and computer. At that moment, I was relieved I wasn't dealing with babies.
Stay in touch, okay?

Olga said...

Hi Sue!
Thanks for replying! Just right now I have read a post of yours about forgiveness and New Year promises. And as for the last point of the promises - my name is Olga (wont be anonymous anymore) )
I'm still thinking as I havent decided yet whether I can sacrifice the future kids for my husband. At the moment I guess I could, but honestly I dont know how I will feel in future. Im am very much afraid to feel what you feel - when you had a chance and you didnt use it and times passed by and stay in my 50s alone.
I thought about situation you told - the father is charging the car with baby gear - I believe I would look at it sadly and regret that my husband will NEVER have a chance to do it ((

Suelick said...

Olga,
Thanks for sharing so much with us. I pray that you and all of us find peace with this issue.