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 hold a 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.

Holding the baby

I think I’m beginning to understand why so many women gather around babies and vie to hold them. Lately my dog Annie, the one in the picture only two years older and 50 pounds heavier, has taken to lying on top of me whenever I relax in a chair or on the sofa. Spread over my lap or chest, she is warm and soft. As I pet her, she relaxes to sleep. Sometimes she snores. Sometimes she whimpers and her feet paddle as she dreams. I stay very still, stroking her fur, loving her. Of course a dog is not the same as a human baby, but there’s something so elemental and right about that closeness, that young life against my body.

Human babies grow so quickly. It is not long before they’re too big and no longer willing to lie in their mothers’ arms. Most mothers can have more children, and they can look forward to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren that come in the never-ending circle of life. They ache to hold babies again. My mother always seemed so happy when she had a chance to hold a little one, but it didn’t happen very often.

For those of us who are not mothers,we can only imagine that feeling. And hold our dogs, if they are willing to be held.