The 23-year-old sat typing at her desk at VH1, where she worked as a production assistant. It was early Autumn, her skin was fair, and she wore a black David Bowie t-shirt made to look more professional with a plaid blazer thrown over it. She had recently gotten bangs and her hair contained a feather hair extension. This was 2010, back when the feather trend was new to the East Coast and had not yet spread to the fur of little white fluffy dogs.
New to the city, she was thankful for her entry-level job in a career path that suited her, and knew how lucky she was to have it. Many girls her age she knew worked as nannies. A nanny. She would never be chosen to look after someone else's children, she lacked the experience. At times she wondered if she was the only girl who had never babysat in their entire life. Upon contemplation, she realized she had never even held one.
Without a babysitting gig to fall back on should she lose her job in media, she knew she must work very hard, and minimize exposing quirks and oddities that might lead coworkers to wonder if she was a sociopath. So on that Fall day when she heard the tell-tale signs that a baby had entered the office: oohs, ahhs, people getting up from their desks to surround the proud parent and request exuberantly to hold the thing, she remained in her cube and hid, sliding down in her office chair with headphones on as to avoid being seen. She wasn't a good actress, and a terrible liar. She knew if she joined the herd to admire the baby her secret would be revealed: The girl did not like babies.
The girl described above is me, and three years later babies still scare the shit out of me. Thankfully, the feather hair extension is gone.
As a 25-year-old recently-sober woman struggling to make ends meet as a creative in New York City, imagining myself with a child is sort of like imagining my funeral. It seems like a life event (knock on wood) that is distant, foreign and just fucking terrifying. I have enough understanding of life and change to know that perhaps I will not always feel this way, that in five, seven, or ten years, desires for offspring may kick in and I might feel empty without a child.
I am not, in fact, a sociopath, I am sure if I do ever have a kid I would love it and find it adorable. Perhaps in order to adore a baby it would have to be my own, because when I see others, while normal humans seem overcome with desire to hold the thing and honest in their proclamations of its cuteness, to me the creature induces fear and panic. I see a smushy, smelly, messy, wrinkly bald human ball that would hijack my body and rip through my beloved vagina then proceed to take over my entire life. (Mothers, I send my deepest apologies if I have offended you, but does childbirth damage your vagina to the extent it does in my mind? Please inform/correct me/or tell me to fuck off in the comments section.)
Little kids are OK, I think they can be pretty fun and hilarious actually, I like them because you get to play and they just say whatever they want, their fifth throat chakra not yet blocked by society. I have one good friend who has a young son, and I like hanging out with him because he thinks it's a fun game for me to throw stuffed animals at him full force while he ducks and covers.
Yet when it comes to my desire to cuddle and ooh and aah, I much prefer animals to babies. Kitty cats are furry and snuggly and independent. I have a four-year-old orange female tabby, named Mama Cat. It is quite rare for orange tabbies to be girls! Sure, she may have bit me when I first got her and caused me to spend a night in the hospital hooked up to an IV full of antibiotics, but at least I wasn't in the hospital bed squeezing her out of my vagina. She may wake me up earlier than I would like by licking my face wanting to be fed, but at least she lets me sleep through the night, and I would much prefer the gentle yet awkward sensation of a cat's tongue on my forehead than the head-splitting scream of a miniature human.
In certain situations I suffer from social anxiety, and have always been a bit of a loner, so perhaps my distaste for babies boils down to my wariness of the human race in general, coupled with the knowledge of what an inadequate mother I would make at the time being. Last night, shortly before my 11PM birth control alarm went off (it reads “NO BABIES”), I caught Mama Cat doing something she was not supposed to, perched up on a cutting board on the counter voraciously slobbering on the remnants of cheddar cheese caught in a cheese grater.
I imagine molecules of cat saliva will exist in the holes of the cheese grater long after many scrubs, but since she licks me awake and has sent me to the hospital by injecting me with her mouth venom, I figure my cat and I are already fluid bonded and it's not a huge deal. Anyway, rather than yell or properly reprimand Mama Cat, I picked her up, looked her in the eye and said “No Mama Cat! If you are going to do that, you must be sneakier!” In situations like these, I question my parenting skills.
I have a problem with the tabloid-ridden sobriety that paints an image of a woman's happiness defined by marriage and children. I applaud women who embrace a life without kids, yet also hold the utmost respect for mothers, understanding it is perhaps the hardest and most important job in the world. The amount of change I've gone through in 2013 alone has taught me that nothing, even baby phobias, are promised to be permanent, but for now, on bring-your-baby to work day, you can find me slumped down hiding at my desk pretending to be unaware the creature is near me, wondering what is up with everyone else to wants to hold that Homo Sapien glob.