Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Please Explain?

Let's just say, if the continuation of the human species depended on me, a lot of wildlife would breathe a sigh of relief.

Seriously, I was at lunch today with another woman, and about 5 young women, most carrying baby car seat things (you know, the ones for really little babies that come out of the car and then people carry around?), came in.

The other woman was totally fixated on the babies. She talked about how much she wished she were a new mom again. She stared at them yearningly. She talked about how cute they were. How irresistable.

Don't get me wrong. I'm careful when I need to lift or carry a baby. I've changed my share while babysitting. I try to be decent and respectful to people of all ages.

But, I have not one iota of fascination or interest in babies. Never have.

(If you're female in the US, you're really not supposed to say that.)

When the other woman talked about how she wished she were a new mom again, I thought to myself that if I found myself in day to day charge of a baby, I'd take it to the nearest hospital and then find a way to do myself in (without making a mess). Seriously, just thinking about spending even an afternoon in the company of a baby... well, I've done it plenty, and it didn't make me want to do it more.

I imagine maybe it's like color-blindness; color-blind people know that other people see green or whatever, but they don't see it. I know that some people find babies irresistable, but I don't see it.

I thank science every day for the development of effective birth control, and thank my luck for the luck part, too. I thank science and the legal system for the development of safe abortions, too.

Anyway, I asked the other woman why she'd want to be a new mom again, because I don't get it, but I'm curious.

She said, because they're cuddly and they're completely dependent.

Cuddly I can understand.

But the dependent thing? I don't get that, really. In fact, I find it sort of creepy in a power-mongering way.

So, if you're someone who likes babies, help me understand what it is you find irresistable or attractive or whatever, please!


  1. Anonymous8:33 PM

    I really like babies but I do notice that some women make a big show of their fascination and I don't really do that. at least, it seems like I'm not nearly as fascinated with other people's babies as some of my friends are. I like mine fine. I do like to see them make cute faces. I talk to babies and children because well, they're people. And they're cute. And I love to overhear sassy toddlers say random funny things.

    I think I was more obsessed with holding babies before I had them. by now, I'd rather not have small people all over me. I've got enough. Maybe when my kids get older the nostalgia will kick in.

    And the dependency thing? That's creepy to me, too.

  2. I can't help you - except to note that I often feel the same way. I don't have a desire to get pregnant -- I'm 38 and would like to have kids -- but they don't have to be babies first... which is a good thing at my age.

    I suspect we'll be adopting younger kids in the next few years (once we can live in the same city... sigh). That is fine with me, as I kind of like the idea of having kids who are potty trained and able to feed themselves. They are more like cats that way--- as cats know how to eat and use the litter box right away :).

  3. Yeah, the dependency thing to me is definitely NOT a reason to want babies. In fact, it is the main reason why I seriously think about never having kids. It freaks me out to think of someone else being totally dependent on me all day every day for so many years.

    I'm not sure I get why people are fascinated by babies, either. I am always amazed by how small they are, but that wears off pretty fast. I find toddlers are bit cuter. But cats inspire the same sort of OMG THAT IS TEH CUTE! I HAVE TO CUDDLE IT _NOW_! reaction that I see some of my friends have to babies, so I can kind of imagine what they are feeling, even if I don't feel it myself.

  4. ITPF posted while I was writing my comment, so I swear I had no idea that both of us were going to compare children to cats. Oops. Maybe it's a conspiracy.

  5. God, this just came up yesterday when we were talking about this pediatrics test. The "really bad with small children" medical students. This girl had a practical exam and the first thing they did was jump all over her for not being "cutesy" with the baby.

    It was funny. I also am not a big fan of the babies. Thought it would be better if I really need kids to adopt a 12-year-old. I find the little ones a little frightening too.

    But man, talk about the one thing that is really taboo to say...

  6. Anonymous1:33 AM

    Well, I can't help you with an explanation of the baby obsession. I don't get it either. But what really scares me is these infertile couples and what they endure for the sake of perpetuating their genetic line. Years of fertility treatments, failed implantations, miscarriages...maybe tens of thousands of dollars spent. It borders on obsession. And all the while, there are existing kids who need parents. Okay, I know that a lot of those kids have problems, but they're already here, and they need families.

    I you can tell that I'm a big believer in adopting dogs and cats from shelters or directly off the street.

    My cats (to continue a tradition in this comments section), make me ooze goofily all over them. They turn me into a gibbering idiot. Babies, on the other hand, do nothing for me.

  7. I like other people's babies, but I have no interest in having one of my own. I'm the oldest of 7 children, and so I know exactly what it takes to raise a kid (as much as anyone can know without actually having one), and I'm not interested in all that work. Babies are cute and that's why I like them, which means I don't have to have one of my own but can simply appreciate the babies of others.

  8. Anonymous6:39 AM

    Friends of mine who have chosen not to procreate (yup, he got snipped) told me they think newborns look like eggplants. Upon further inspection, I have to agree. I'm not a big fan of the squash family either.

    As character Luke on Gilmore Girls says, "Kids always seem to have something sticky on their hands, like jam. I have no patience for jam hands!" Me either.


  9. I'll admit that I love babies (and I hate cats). My eye has always been drawn to children and they're rather fascinated by me, too. Little ones love me - always have. I'm legend in my family for being able to put any baby to sleep in 10 minutes or less. It's a great party trick when there's a fussy baby!

    I grew up in a big extended family surrounded by children of all ages, so I'm under no illusions about the work and the sleepless nights and the dependency. It's more than overwhelming, even when you know you can return them in a few hours. Still, I'm perfectly content with the world when I'm making faces with a toddler over a restaurant booth or a six-month-old is snuggled up under my chin.

    I think I'm just fascinated by little ones. How small they are, how quickly they change, how utterly they trust the big people around them, how unintentionally funny they are. And yes, how cuddly. Maybe I'm taken in by the small measure of hope they offer. No matter how crazy life seems, it falls away for a few minutes when I'm holding a baby.

  10. Now that it's too late I find I am more interested in looking at babies and toddlers than I used to be. It's still not exactly that I want them, because I don't and never did, but they look cuter, somehow.

  11. I'm firmly in the camp of liking kids but not wanting any of my own. Some find this strange, but I really do like hanging out with other people's kids - I just don't want to do it 24/7. If - and it is a big tentative if - I were to have kids, I don't think I could handle being a stay-at-home mom (but if that works for you, by all means do it). My mom worked and I think she would have gone crazy if she stayed home with us. Working made her a better mom. Of course, it probably didn't hurt that my babysitter had all of my siblings and I from infant to age 12 [stability] and lived 1 block away from where my dad worked and 3 blocks away from where my mom worked.

    But no, I don't want kids and I don't think it is odd to not want them or to not want to go crazy over babies. And, fwiw, babytalk drives me crazy and isn't necessarily good for kids to hear, either.

  12. Anonymous4:26 PM

    It's not the same as a baby fixation, but I have three kids and each time the first few weeks were a really pleasant time, sort of calm and focussed on the little cuddly, immobile thing. Later...


  13. I've noticed the dependency thing in some people too, and it is troubling. I don't think we should like young people because we can control them. I do like young people because they are hopeful, though, and sometimes I think that's more useful to me than to the young people (babies, toddlers, kids, whatever).

    I like babies because I happen to just think they're all around great humans. I like paying attention to babies because adults don't always pay them the kind of attention they deserve because they have feelings that get in the way of being as effective as they could be (not that every adult doesn't make a valiant effort every day, and not that I don't make an equal amount of mistakes compared to other adults). But I like to think that I make a difference by making the effort to pay attention to a baby and getting close to them, without expecting any control, any particular learning of a skill (I know a lot of parents who talk to their kids with the sole intention of giving them a big vocabulary for later in life), or anything else. I don't know if it makes a difference to them, but I like to think it does. And I like that when you pay attention to a baby you often get great attention back and can enjoy a real moment of connection with him/her.

    All that said, I also understand when folks DON'T have any particular compulsion to be close to babies. I don't think it's some requirement of femininity, or partnership, or adulthood, or whatever. I just think different life experiences lead people to have different views of babies, from the problematic love-of-control, to the in love for whatever reason, to the ambiguousness, to the dislike. They are all feelings so none of them are better than any other.

  14. Anastasia, So it sounds like having your own kids at least temporarily reduced your fascination with others?

    Philosophy Factory, Adoption seems like a reasonable response!

    StyleyGeek, Funny, I always want to play with parrots :) Cats, babies, do nothing for me. Parrots and dogs, I'm a happy person.

    MSILF, Absolutely taboo to say, indeed. And heaven forbid I don't go gaga over a co-worker's screaming kid visiting the office.

    Malkin, Yeah, I don't get the need to pass on my genetics thing, either. But lots of folks seem to feel VERY strongly.

    Dorothy W, I don't get the "cute," though.

    Roarringrrl, Jam hands! and sugar cane hands... /sigh

    PhD Me, I'm interested that you see babies as offering hope. I worry about the environmental effects of multitudes, and about what sorts of world we're making for them by having so many.

    Marcelle Proust, Hmm, concensus around here seems to be that a cat would help?

    K8, I think my Mom would have been happier if she'd worked outside the home, too.

    Anonymous, Well, you managed three without ending up in jail, right? Better than I would have done.

    Kate, that's interesting about wanting to interact differently with kids than other people do.

  15. I never really liked kids or babies - I think it is because I babysat so much when I was a kid that I never got to the point of seeing them as anything other than a chore.

    Now that I have my own, of course, I have converted to being a complete baby and kid lover, and if my kids make me wait till they are 35 to have my grandbabies I will kill them.

  16. tbtam, I think my Mom finally forgave me for not having kids when I was about 40. Well, mostly, anyways. I hope you were kidding.