As previously stated, I do not like babies, consumerist baby culture, mommy culture, the word mommy, the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, baby-talk, and, most emphatically, people who come into the coffeehouses I frequent and assume I do not mind their babies or toddlers or whatever they are running into me repeatedly and screaming whilst their parents exceedingly loudly discuss cord blood or Eileen Fisher whatever it is that Park Slopey mommies discuss.
Let’s be clear: I do not mind the babies being there, I do not mind the babies running around, I don’t even mind the babies screaming. What I really, really, REALLY MIND is the assumption that these mommies (and some daddies) have that I don’t mind or will even ENJOY their spawn running into/on/around me while I am quietly doing my accounting, writing a novel, or whatever the fuck it is that I want to do, quietly. If they were even the tiniest bit as concerned for my space as I am for theirs (breastfeeding? Hooray! Bring (t)it on!), I wouldn’t care what their babies do. Seriously. I just resent the assumption that I’m as adoring of their spawn as they are.
I always resent the assumption. The older and more barren my womb gets, the more I resent the assumption.
But there is a difference between publicly proclaiming a dislike for something based on political reasons (the way we have babies in our society) and having a problem with that thing being done well. When babies are done well, I have absolutely no problem with them. But since the whole baby-makin’ enterprise is usually saturated with the general hideosity that is AmericaTM, I will continue to happily say that I dislike babies even though in practice I have space in my heart for the good ones.
Let me explain that in a different way.
In order to make a point, people often say “I dislike something heartily!” On the internets, this often translates to “I fucking hate that fucking thing!”
Let it hereby be understood that when this writer proclaims her hearty dislike/fucking hatred for something, there is of course space for exceptions. In fact, these exceptions are spots of brightness and hope that make the hatred/hearty dislike ever more necessary, for they throw into relief how truly fucked is the mainstream way of practicing that thing.
I had a baby come to visit recently.
Everyone was all “Dude, Lagusta has a baby coming over! Lagusta hates babies! Dude!” Everyone gave me these coy little smiles, like “Oooh I can’t wait to hear the expletives that will follow this experience!”
What everyone had forgotten – what everyone always forgets – was the fact that babies usually, hopefully, come with their mothers. And in the case of this baby, the mother was Christy, the gorgeous soul-mate best friend I love more every time I catch a glimpse of her.
Christy’s entire life is devoted to remaking motherhood and baby-raising – she works as an abortion counselor, where she walks past protesters daily in her “business casual” vintage dresses on her way to empowering women to take control of their reproductive lives. She helps to run this amazing group that “provides pregnancy, labor, and post partum doula services…to women incarcerated in Washington State,” (donate all your money to them here) works as a doula-for-hire, volunteers for an abortion-support hotline, fixes up her brand new house, and, of course, is a great co-parent to her 8-month-old baby, little E.
When I met Christy in college she was passionate about the injustices inherent in the prison-industrial complex, and it constantly amazes me how she managed to combine her two passions – prison abolishment and feminist ways of having children – so neatly. The knowledge that Christy exists is one of those necessary hand holds I grope for on the days when I feel myself sliding off the thin edge of sanity I’ve worked so hard to build up.
So when my Portlandtastic Christy announced plans for a rare swing through NY, of course I jumped at the chance to see her plus one. And until everyone I knew began joking about how I would deal, I wasn’t nervous at all.
But the visit went wonderfully. I learned how to hold a baby (much easier than a cat), and I am proud to say that little E. never cried around me (secret: babies like shiny things). In fact, my house is so enticing to children that Lil’ E. was moved, on the spot, to learn to crawl in order to explore it properly.
Little E. and I got along so well that one night we invited a few friends over and Christy told them to spread the word that “Lagusta is good with babies! Babies like Lagusta! Tell the world!”
When I started telling people that the baby visit went off so marvelously, I could see it – that gleam, that glint.
“No,” I irritatedly added, “I don’t want one.”
And I got all angry all over again. I was secretly really proud of my feelings – I had been a tiny bit nervous about little E. plus me, and was happy it all went so well. Throughout the visit I gave myself a few check-ups – just taking a minute to quietly ask, “This is what it would be like. What do you feel, deep down?” (It never hurts to check in with yourself, right?) My deep down self, happily, proclaimed that it felt just fine, but it’s not the thing for me.
So I’m more than a little proud of where I am right now: not wanting a baby just as I have never wanted a baby, but excited that the rest of my life will hopefully include some fun encounters with other people’s babies I can bounce on my knee. Oh, and I made little E. a completely-inappropriate-for-children (Kids want to eat buttons! Who knew?) sock dog.
So. Back to “do you make the cut?” I heartily loathe 90% of American culture and society. I have big disagreements with the way that we are living on every level imaginable. I even hate your washing machine. But there is, of course, that 10% (truthfully I feel that it’s more like 3%, but I’m trying to be optimistic) that is really thinking with their whole hearts about how to live. I’m always with that 10%, no matter what. I’m against marriage, but if you’re in that 10% and you’re married, I still love you. Babies are weird, but if you are in that 10% and you have a baby, I still love you. What I care about is the overall thought you’re giving to your life. Once you’re in the 10% club, you’re golden.
Little E is already in it, based solely on the fact that she liked my (forbidden, for now) sock dog and my favorite blue plastic necklace.