10,000 Babies

I’ve been seeing babies everywhere. Little babies jumping in puddles, toddlers holding Mommy’s hands, infants swaddled in body wraps wound around Daddy’s stomach, little kids squealing with delight at a new toy or candy on the subway, and so forth. I don’t think I have ever seen so many babies in my life! Or… noticed them all so vividly before.

When I was a girl, my grandma got me a doll and a whole wardrobe of clothes that was made especially for the doll. I remember worshipping that toy, telling her my secrets, sleeping with her, she was my baby. Her name was Diana and she had brown hair and brown eyes (just like me!) I’d pick out her outfits and dress her in the mornings. I’d brush out her hair and braid it if I felt really creative. Diana was my first time realizing that one day I could have a little girl to dress up and play with.

My perception of babies changed drastically when I began to babysit a couple babies last year. I had one infant of 4 months, one of 1 year and another who was just pushing 2. Caring for these actual kids was one of the scariest and most fulfilling things I had ever done. The fear of changing a diaper quickly disappeared after the first time, and I actually enjoyed feeding the little mouths and laughing at the joy on the kid’s face when I would announce we were going to the park. There was a relief, however, when I would hand the kid back to the parents at the end of the day and then go on my merry way, happy to divulge in a late impromptu life with no string attached, no one to call and no person waiting for me to get home.

Actually having a kid… that takes real courage. I look at my peers who are getting married and pregnant and swallow a lump of fear. How on earth do you guys do it? Where is the decision process made (or not made)? I look at the decision to get pregnant and see it as a decision to sign my life away to the property of my child until that kid is old enough to move out of the house. That’s a promise of at least 21 years! Much more if that kid becomes dependent.

I got scared twice. I remember the earth shaking, bone chilling fear when I realized the possibility that I could be pregnant. The possibilities would race through my head: so where will I live? Where can I raise this thing? Can I live with the dad happily for the rest of my life? How will I make ends meet? and then, the worst one: I won’t be able to be an actress anymore. Done. Gone. Ahhhh! And then: No babies. No pregnancy. False alarm. Whew!

So, is this what it means to turn 25? BABIES! 10,000 BABIES! Babies in my dreams (I had a recent one in which one of my exes fathered an infant with a friend of mine and I had to babysit the kid!) Babies in my restaurant, babies in cabs, on the street, on the subway: everywhere! I also find myself giggling when I see them. Oh, she is so cute! Look at those golden curls! Those toothy grins! I could just squeeze those little cherub cheeks! And then, I heave a sigh and move on, a solo traveler and very grateful for that.

August 28, 2012 at 4:53 am by Natalie Allen