You know that person who adores babies and runs right up to the new mom and asks to hold the baby and then does so just perfectly, lulling said baby into a perfectly sated state of sleep? I am the opposite of that person. Don’t get me wrong, I like babies, but mostly to look at. I just think that of humans that are not my offspring, those capable of walking and talking are more fun to be around.
There are many reasons for this aversion, but there are a couple of things about babies that are particularly vexing. First, babies are prone to spontaneous eruptions of bodily fluid. Poop, pee, vomit, drool; you never know when or what is coming. The tiniest baby can cover sixteen times its own square footage with a layer of one of these toxic substances without even a second’s notice. Thus, after a couple high school and college babysitting sessions, I started referring to babies as “sticky things.” When I found out my cousin was having his third child, all I could say was “Wow, another sticky thing, congrats! Hope it learns tricks and gets as fun as your other kids quick!”
Even as a mom, I have really never been able to identify that “yummy baby smell” unless people mean baby shampoo and Dreft, which are products you have to use to cover up the other smells that babies emit. I remember how moments after my son was born my husband posted a pic of him online and someone remarked that they wanted to smell him. I laughed out loud. Almost immediately after his grand entrance, my son had pooped green meconium (newborn poop) numerous times all over me. The beautiful moments right after a child is born do not smell good at all.
Also, it takes a considerable amount of time before a new human learns the tricks that makes him or her interesting. Babies really don’t do anything. Even the grandparents of my children, when given the choice of spending time with one of my children, will choose the larger of the two. She is potty trained, which I’m sure is another benefit, but it’s not like she wipes her own butt or anything yet. It’s about nine months into the life of an infant, when they’re a little mobile, smiling, playing with toys and obeying some commands before you want to hang out with them for an extended period.
Finally, and probably most importantly, infants are terrifying. For instance, that whole “soft spot on the top of the head” thing. So scary. No skull there, just skin to brain. I think Robin on “How I Met Your Mother” said it best when she said “If you’re going to give something a self-destruct button, at least hide it a little.”
My husband loves to hold babies and when we first started dating, he would frequently hand them to me. Imagining he was sizing me up for motherhood (I think he actually just assumed I was normal and wanted to hold babies), I would smile and try not to look awkward. In my head, I was screaming at him, “Are you crazy? Do you know how long this thing was inside that woman over there? It’s obviously perfect and very important to her. One wayward flick of my clumsy wrist and she is going to lose her mind. She’s probably watching me and knows I’m not doing this right.” It wasn’t until after I had my own babies that I realized that babies are tougher than you would think and that new moms typically disappear quickly to enjoy a couple rare moments of two-handedness once someone who looks fairly normal takes responsibility of their infant .
(By the way, do you want to hold my baby? Here’s the requirements: you must have at least one good hand that is clean and know someone I know and not look like a serial killer. Take him. Enjoy. I’ll be over there drinking wine until I have to take him back because he’s spewed something out of one end or another.)
After openly admitting my avoidance of infant-holding to other people, I learned that I’m not alone. I won’t call anyone out, but you know who you are. You might even adore children overall and be fantastic with them, but you just don’t like holding something covered in smelly fluids that doesn’t do anything and seems so fragile. Perhaps you even want to have your own kids someday. Fear not, there are cool things about babies. I speak from experience – I’m on my second one. And my first one made it through infancy wonderfully and she knows so many tricks now that she is a blast. So here are some fun things about being the parent of an infant:
1.) You get a special parking spot. The spot “For people with infants and young children” spot is usually right next to where you get or return a cart and very close to the store. Awesome.
2.) Your Klout score goes sky-high. A website that uses algorithms to measure your influence in social media, Klout gives you a score based on the popularity and reach of your posts online. About a month after I had my son, I checked out Klout. My Klout score was pretty high. Higher than local celebrities like weathermen and some of my most respected social media expert friends, so obviously I thought Klout was very accurate. Now that my son is an ancient 5 months old, my score is a lot lower, and it’s obvious that Klout is bologna. Still, I see these social media consultants trying to boost their score and “+K”-ing each other (that’s a Klout “like”.) Here’s the secret to getting a great Klout score: Have a baby. No other content on social media is going to rival the popularity of the post of someone who just went into labor except for pictures of the resulting newborn. It worked for me.
3.) You will now be able to talk to yourself in a store. It will be acceptable because you can act like you’re talking to the baby. You can also “tell the baby” things you want your spouse or other adults around to hear. “Daddy left his socks on the floor again, didn’t he, Buster? You can hardly breath over the smell, huh? Poor Buster!!!”
4.) Your baby will have a special smile for you. It sounds simple, but you know that scene in Goonies where they finally see all the treasure? It’s a thousand times better than that. It really does make all the vile liquids they produce tolerable.