Earlier this week I wrote this post about the long road my husband and I took to be at peace with my decision not to have children. The rest of this series, including my last post about a life-changing conversation with my sister Elyssa, is about how that all went to poop.
Strike 2 – Realizing that our child could be a tiny version of my husband
Shortly after Elyssa threw an epiphany grenade into my peaceful mental state, N’s sister got married. Other than that one conversation with Elyssa wherein I contemplated children in a less-than-awful way, I was still pretty anti-kiddo. And let’s just say that the 4-hour flight out to N’s hometown for the wedding, in a plane full of very upset children, only reinforced my aversion.
At the wedding, there was all of the hustle and bustle that is typical of such a special occasion, and we were all on our best behavior. All of except for one of N’s little cousins. N’s cousin is a delightful child, and has a hilariously sarcastic view of the world. He also happened to be the ring bearer, and he was NOT happy about it.
He did not express his discontentment about the wedding in a typical, pouty-child or temper-tantrum-y kind of way. He was more of a tiny curmudgeon who would look at us incredulously, as though he could not believe he was being forced to participate in these shenanigans.
I was the matron of honor, so I got to stand at the front of the church and watch this nugget walk down the aisle. He had his little hands in his little suit pockets and looked around at the many adults that he blamed for betraying him. He made eye contact with each of them as if to say, “Et tu, Brute?” When no one came to his rescue, he just shrugged and proceeded down the aisle.
I don’t know why, but something about this cantankerous child in the midst of the pomp and circumstance of a wedding was hilarious to me. He was a little boy, and he didn’t care about weddings. He was just grumpy that rather than playing outside on that beautiful summer day, he was forced to suit up and walk down the aisle as all of the boring grown-ups watched.
Later, at the reception, I would occasionally see or hear that little nugget do something amusing. His mother, N’s aunt, must have seen me smirking at the ridiculous child because she walked over to me and remarked that he was a near exact replica of my dear N when he was a kiddo! Inquisitive, loquacious, and a bit moody. A little boy who knew what he did (and did not) want to be doing.
And then the astoundingly obvious hit me — if we have a child, s/he might be just like N! I could spend my days hanging out with a tiny version of the greatest human on the planet! I know the idea that children take after their parents is a pretty basic concept for most people, and I don’t know what kind of gremlin spawn I had previously envisioned as our child, but what a revelation this was!
I know that N was a remarkably bright and curious little boy, and as such, he would ask endless questions to the adults in his life. The adults did not always have the time, patience, or inclination to answer them all. During this moment of revelation, when I envisioned myself hanging out with kiddo-N, I imagined him having thousands of questions about everything from religion to science to the way the world works. I imagined how delighted I’d be to be a part of his brain development, and to have the opportunity to encourage his curiosity.
I imagined that once he started asking questions to which I did not know the answers, we could figure them out together. We could go to museums and read books and explore the world.
I imagined that someday, little-N might grow into as wonderful a man as his father.
The pressure of that realization made the prospect of motherhood simultaneously more terrifying but also more exciting.