On babies

Last night I held a baby. I was at the children’s museum, standing by our Fresh Air Fund table, when a neighbor lady walked in with her four little girls and newborn baby boy. As soon as she ushered them all through the heavy, glass doors, I pounced, oohing and aahing until I forced myself to back down.

I returned to my station and sat down, demurely smoothing my skirt. I picked up some brochures and tried to focus on the task at hand—recruiting host families—but then it occurred to me, maybe my neighbor lady’d like to have someone hold the baby for her? I snaked my way back through the crowds until I found her. I smiled warmly (but not overbearingly, I hoped) and said, “If you want, I’d be glad to hold your baby for you while you walk around. I’m just sitting over there and can easily take him. If you’d rather not, that’s fine, too. But I’d sure love it.


“Well sure,” she said, handing him over.

I floated back to my seat, hardly believing my good luck, a huge grin pushing my cheeks up so high that my eyes almost squinched completely shut. I waited till I was sitting again before examining the little snoozing bundle. He was perfect. A round head, creamy complexion, dainty, perfectly-formed features, a downy-soft head. I sniffed his top-fuzz—so warm! so milky!—and melted. My whole body relaxed. Intense feelings of complete well-being washed over me. I felt drunk.

I swayed from side to side in my blue plastic chair, patting his little bottom and smiling wildly at anyone who made eye contact with me. I wanted to shift him so his head would rest on my shoulder so that each time I inhaled I could fill my whole respiratory system—my very cells—with whiffs of his baby scent, but they had warned he was a fussy baby, and he was sleeping so peacefully that I didn’t dare.

When the family gathered around me a half hour later, ready to leave the museum, I stared straight ahead, pretending they weren’t there, trying to suck just a few more minutes of baby therapy out of that bundle.

This baby crazy maternal weirdness just shows you how very far out of the baby stage I am. I have never been a baby person. I like them well enough, but generally my rule is, if it ain’t mine, I don’t need it. Or even want it. For the last decade I have been up to my eyeballs in my own babies’ scent. The little ones drained me so thoroughly that I never even had one iota of interest in holding someone else’s baby.

with Sweetsie Baby (and my mom)

But now. Now I get misty-eyed when I just think of holding a baby.

It’s not like I think about them all the time, ’cause I don’t. And I don’t want to have another one of my own (though the thought has occurred to me). It’s just that when I see a baby—and it must be a newborn; right around the six-month mark, I lose interest—I get a little delirious.

On the other hand, I got a taste of my future—a very baby-less future—this morning, and it was intoxicating in its own right. What happened was this: in less than two hours, we, all six of us, cleaned the house from top to bottom. Every single person pulled his or her weight. We got along together. Parents supervised and kids promptly obeyed. No one argued (except for one minor blooper). We were a well-oiled machine. It was perfectly blissful.

I really like babies. And I also really like not having babies anymore.

This same time, years previous: ice cream cake, lemon tart


  • Mavis

    I must admit… I'm a baby stealer of sorts… If I see one at a party I must hold it… I even call my neighbor up sometimes and tell her I need to hold her baby… I love them soooooo much. I just can't get enough of them… although I do draw the line at changing diapers… no thanks.

  • The Renwicks

    Im SO glad you got tiny baby cuddles. One of my close friends had her little girl last week and I was cuddling her today to get my baby fix in! I REALLY look forward to the day when we have a babyless future that including getting little ones ready without the collapse onto the floor two and a half year old tanturms – the thought of them actually HELPING is too much to bare! There will, however, be more babies through our home yet. At some point – not tooooo soon! When they come, if you're holidaying in London, youre MORE than welcome to get in as many tiny bity baby cuddles as you like! x

  • Anonymous

    There is nothing, nothing better in this world than an hour with a newborn baby! I had my "baby therapy" – as I called it too at the time) while my daughter played basketball. The baby belonged to a parent on the OTHER team, but I didn't care! When they showed up, the Mom would just hand over that little bundle of joy and I was in blissful baby mode! I felt so much better after the game going home with my not-so-babylike children! Maybe we need to reconnect with the maternal oxytocin that explodes when we hold a baby!

    L in Elkton

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