Career idea: baby cuddler

A Facebook friend recently announced that she had volunteered to be a “baby cuddler” at a daycare center. For a few hours a week, she holds, rocks and talks to babies. What a great idea. It helps the busy staff people who don’t have time to just cuddle, and it gives my friend a chance to enjoy babies long after hers are grown.

So many of us never get a chance to hold babies, especially if we’ve never had any of our own. And they are such fascinating creatures, tiny people just discovering the world. For me, I’m always nervous around babies because I’ve never been around them much and also because I have always held back when there’s a baby in the room. But what if I honestly said I wasn’t sure how to do this but I wanted to learn? What if I got my friends and family involved in helping me bond with the babies in their lives? What if I asked them to coach me until I got good at it? What if I became the best “aunt” in the world?

Obviously we can’t just grab any old baby. We’d get arrested for kidnapping. But there are ways to help mothers who never seem to have enough hands or enough time to deal with everything.

You might respond that you can’t stand to be around babies because it reminds you that you don’t have any babies of your own and might never have them. I understand. But you know what? It’s okay to cry while you’re holding a baby. Let those tears out until you start to see the wonder of what you have in your arms right now at this minute. And then when they get older, talk to them, play with them, teach them. With their parents’ permission, of course.

We have can contribute to the world’s children, even if we never have any of our own. If you’re not ready, I understand. It has taken me a long time to get to this place. But don’t give up on having a connection with kids, even if you never give birth.

Ever feel like you’re from another country, the land of no babies?

At the local post office, one of the workers brings her baby every day. I have seen her grow from newborn to just starting to walk and talk. She’s a cute, smiley child. I watch her and her mom with curiosity, but I don’t know how to interact with them. Yesterday as I was collecting my mail, I watched a white-haired man having so much fun talking nonsense to the baby that he couldn’t seem to tear himself away. Clearly he’s had years of practice talking to babies, his own, his grandchildren, perhaps nieces and nephews. I have never been around babies, and I don’t have the vocabulary for it.
At the library, I encounter a group blocking the stairs, two young mothers and three little kids, so busy talking they don’t notice me trying to get to the ground floor to sit alone and write for a while. I edge around them. The children’s room, occupied by more moms and babies, sits at the bottom of the stairs. I feel as if I am not allowed to step into that room.
A friend is hosting a series of parenting classes. She keeps sending emails asking us to help, but I am no more qualified to teaching parenting that I would be to give surfing lessons or teach Mandarin.
Many of my friends have children and grandchildren. When we work on common interests, such as music or writing, we connect. But then they suddenly start talking Mommy, and our connection fades away. It’s a lot like when I walk into the chapel during the Spanish choir rehearsal. I know some Spanish, but they talk too fast and use words I just don’t understand. They look at me like I don’t belong in their world, that no matter how many Spanish classes I take, I never will.
I often feel that I’m from a country that has no children, only dogs and cats. One is not better than the other, just different. Does any of this sound familiar to you? As childless people, are there situations where you feel like you come from another country? Please share. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.