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Feb. 24th, 2008 at 6:01 pm
They say it the same way they used to say “boy crazy.” There’s amusement, tolerance and ultimately dismissal. From some, there’s the assumption that those who are “baby hungry” are victims of either hormones or patriarchal brain-washing.
How much they misunderstand.
In Robin McKinley’s novel “Spindle’s End,” there’s a moment when the disguised princess, unaware of the enchantment laid upon her at birth for beautiful embroidery, picks up a needle and thread. At the encouragement of her friend, she begins to try a few stitches. To her surprise and horror, her hands fly across the cloth, stitching in a gorgeous scenery she knows she’s never learned.
In Wendy Pini’s graphic series “Elfquest,” a group of immortal elves, seeking to protect themselves from the harsh outside world, create their own little utopia within a mountain. Their safety becomes their doom however and the stagnation they made for themselves kills their spirits long before it kills their bodies. In the process of all this, the healer — she who has the talent to knit bones, mend flesh and soothe hurts through magic — finds her skills unneeded. With nothing to do, no purpose, her magic festers.
For me, to hold a baby is to feel both of the above situations at once. I have dreamed of being a lot of things in my life. I wanted to be a pilot because I thought that was the way to get to be an astronaut. I thought about becoming an ASL interpreter. I was going to have my own knitting business; I was going add a quilting business to that. Someday I’m going to write a book. I may yet do some or even all of these things. (Hey, maybe the first aliens we meet will only communicate through signs and they’ll need ASL Astronauts. It could happen.) But the one career I have always aimed for, always practiced at or read up on at every opportunity, is motherhood.
I have the love to give. I have the skills to use. Perhaps most importantly, I have the desire to do. When Devyn S. posted about married graduate students on welfare, my response was “Great! Where do I sign up?!”
I’m surrounded by families. My husband’s cousins — one of which got married the same year we did — each have two little ones. One of my friends from the ward is working on her fourth. Another of those friends recently became pregnant with her third. All three of my husband’s groomsmen have kids. (4, 2 and 1, respectively.) The couple who introduced my husband and I? They had theirs within the first year of their marriage. Soon we’ll be entering our fifth year of marriage. Soon I’ll be 30. I ‘d planned to at least have a start on a family by now.
I talked about this briefly with one of my friends last fall. He told me not to worry, it’s not a race. He doesn’t get it. It is a race; it’s a race against myself. I only have so much time in my life — and that’s even assuming I don’t die in a crash tomorrow or this cursed cyst on my kidney doesn’t turn out to be something worse. There are so many reasons I want to have kids now, dagnabbit. Some are physical, some are emotional and some are theological. They all boil down to this: it’s my nature. Right now, circumstances are crippling my nature.
That’s what it is to be baby hungry. You have skills but no way to use them. You have knowledge but nothing to apply it to. You have desire but nothing to focus it on.
To be quite honest, it sucks.
Somewhere in the comments someone is going to bring up the trials and difficulties of parenthood, the lack of sleep, the cleaning of body functions, yada yada yada. Don’t. Just don’t.