Children make me feel so uncomfortable. At best, I treat them like miniature adults but without work related things to talk about, or the latest book I’ve read to discuss, our interactions are short lived. I’ve found only so many ways of asking, “How’s school? Do you come first or first from the end?” Children don’t find me funny either. My tactic to deal with this has been to generally ignore them in hopes that they’ll do the kindness of ignoring me back, and we’ll go our ways.
But while I have developed means of avoiding not-yet-adults, trying to escape being trapped into conversation with those proudly wearing badges of a “parent” is a completely different matter. That being said, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel for them…at times. More so, for women who have entered mother-hood.
I’m a “wicked haaad cooah” public transport-wallah and fairly often I find myself in a crowed bus with a young mother with a child on a hip, and a toddle hanging off her arms. Even I’m not so cold heart-ed as to not feel bad and want to help them. If possible, I offer my seat, if not possible I often request someone to have a heart (because I do. duh) and give up their seat for a mother who has a child (if not two) and usually a couple of bags to boot.
Yesterday, a fine example of an asshole man held onto his seat and so I, who was a little away and awkwardly positioned offered mine. The young mother declined, but I insisted, and when I made the move to do a quick seat-swap the jostle of the bus and the people in between us made it impossible for her to get to me.
It was then, I did the unthinkable – I took her baby. I, in my right and fully functional mind, told her to hand over her child so I could seat it on my lap and even put a protective arm around it to offer it some stability.
Thank my lucky stars, this child was rather placid. It sat and was no trouble. But a few minutes of having a child sit on you, and you’ll soon begin to feel their weight press into your thigh. How much more difficult to have the weight of a child on your hip. Holding this combination of two strangers passion I feel weird. No emotion. No connection. Like I was just holding someone’s precious package. At some point I thought to myself, “My God, I’m holding a human“, a thought that still strikes me as weird. I thought about how much the mother must love this bundle that bounced on my knee, but then I became more worried about what would happen if the kid decided it needed to pee.
Eventually, it was the mother, more than the child, who caught my attention. I examined her face and behind messy hair and tired eyes I realized she couldn’t have been older at me. If anything, we were probably the same age.
And there we were. Two women. Two lives. Her’s filled with a child who pooped and peeped and cried and kept her up at night. And mine, with work and trying to do all I can to avoid marriage and motherhood. Because my maternal instinct, the one that aches to take care of and dole all my attention on something, is already booked with work. With friends. With being more sensitive to my parents who I must admit are aging. And while people may ask, what of my uterus, I will response in kind – what of my uterus?
It bleeds every month, it aches, and it does not want to be filled with life. There’s no need for me to bear judgement for that. Being mother to a while ball of fur is quite enough.