People have been inflicting babies on me lately.
Perhaps I have this maternal look about me and some sort of glitch in the Shenandoah Valley birth rate has manifested an abundance of infants being dragged among the public. Or maybe I’m just more aware of them in view of my increasingly frantic attempts to prevent the Heirs from producing heirs until they at least have: 1. an education; 2. a job; 3. majority; and 4. a committed relationship in which their partner is not spawning a child so she has someone to play with.
I’m sure that, as when the Heirs themselves were born, hormones will kick in and I will one day look forward to having grandchildren bouncing on Dirtman’s knee. But my general attitude towards babies is that they’re about as much fun as a log of salami, only for the most part the salami smells better and always makes a better sandwich. (Did she just suggest eating babies? I can’t believe she just hinted at baby eating! Oh, grow up. I would never suggest eating babies – it’s too hard to find a wine to pair with them.)
I know, I know. It’s probably very unfeminine to not want to coo and cuddle babies. And, really, for whatever reason, hormonal or otherwise, I was a good mother to my own babies. But I put in my baby time. Now leave me alone.
The problem is, parents with infants seem to think the whole world is as engaged with their blanket-wrapped mini-Churchill as they are. Why else would they dress a baby in anything other than a diaper and a t-shirt? Those cute little booties don’t stay on and if they do, they cause more edema in their ankles than you’ll see in my eighty-three year-old diabetic aunt. I do like the trend of putting frilly elastic around baby girls’ head so you know they’re not boys since most babies look like Curly.
It’s a given that babies will be in attendance at any party that is geared toward women, the most common being wedding and baby showers, accounting for my disdain and avoidance of both. But sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and go to one. It doesn’t matter if the invitation stated for adults only, there will always be one woman who insists this can’t possibly apply to her baby. Or there’s always one woman breastfeeding who, God forbid, can’t bottle up ahead for some reason. At some point during the party she will develop that worn look on her face because now there is food and she has a baby on her lap. She will begin scanning the room for the experienced baby handlers.
Back in the day this was never a problem. There was always an abundance of grandmotherly types who were perfectly willing to hold the baby. These days, though, as I approach 50, I am the grandmotherly type they’re looking for: not too frail, competent, sober, and with a strong dislike for “shower food” (little sandwiches, strange pastel-colored gelatinous salads, nuts in dishes with spoons. Who eats nuts with a spoon?). I always end up with strange babies on my lap, little time bombs waiting for the perfect moment to urp on my silk pants.
Ironically, Dirtman loves babies. He goes out of his way to draw the attention of babies, setting off a chain reaction of parental expectation. They figure if the husband likes fussing over random babies, his wife probably won’t mind distracting littler Finster while his parents finish their meal. Long grocery lines with Dirtman behind a one-year-old are an eternity of dopey facial exchanges between the two of them because babies have no sense of “enough, already.” Neither does Dirtman. (My favorite Dirtman/child story was over Christmas. Dirtman, 15 pounds heavier, sporting a red turtleneck sweater and with his beard and hair getting whiter every month, walked past a toddler in a shopping cart and winked. The kid was so excited he couldn’t speak, thinking Santa Claus had just run by the grocery store for a gallon of milk.)
And, let’s face it, not everyone is born The Gerber Baby. And it’s always the parents with the baby whose face looks like a thumb with eyes who want you to agree to their kid’s superlative looks. A friend of mine used to say, “Homely in the cradle, pretty at the table!” as some sort of assurance to couples like this. And then she’d walk away. Quickly.
I don’t have quite the chutzpah to pull that off, so I just smile and say, “He (she) looks just like you!” which is generally the case anyway.
Just so you don’t demand I tear up my application for Mother of the Year, just know that, in general, I love kids, especially when they can warn me verbally before projectile vomiting.
See? I’m not all that evil.