August 20, 2008

What Maternal Instinct?

I was over at a friend's house last night. I held her two-month-old baby for a bit because, you know, it's polite to express some interest and it had been a while since I'd held a baby. One gets to thinking of them as fragile if one goes too long without touching them. Well, I do.

The baby was well-behaved, past the wrinkly stage, mostly healthy. Everything that is supposed to make babies so adorable was there. Tiny, wee fingernails? Check. Dimpled fingers and wrists and knees? Check. Instant grasp of proferred finger? Check. Deep dent in the upper lip? Check. Overlarge, luminous eyes? Check. Impromptu, trusting nap? Check.

Impulse to talk baby talk? Nope. Desire to have one of my own? Huh uh.

I was perfectly comfortable holding her. There was no fussing or crying. I recognized when she got hungry and gave her back to her mother. No relief. No regrets.

I know people who are kid-phobic. I know people who think children are the most annoying things in the world. I'm not one of those people. Kids are fine and all--for other people.

I just don't find them interesting, aside from their being examples of human development in action. They stay dull at least until they're verbal. I did enjoy teaching the two-year-old how to say "preposition." They don't get really interesting until they start to separate their identities from their parents'. Then they're human.

Until then? Yawn. I'm glad they make my friends happy, but I have other things I'd rather do.


bioephemera said...

i can relate completely! Sometimes in certain social settings I pretend to have a maternal instinct, just to make things go smoothly - people think it's so abnormal if a young woman doesn't ADORE babies. I don't want to have to break it to a proud parent that their drooling, inarticulate baby is totally uninteresting to me. . .

Stephanie Zvan said...

Jessica, this is the one scenario I can think of in which allergies are my friend. If I'm with someone who just doesn't get it, I can always sniff experimentally and say, "Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't got too close, just in case." Actually, it would probably work just fine without the allergies, too.

At least people have mostly stopped asking when we're going to have one. A few more gray hairs....