When Phoebe answered my call (plea) for maternity leave guest writers I was thrilled because she is one of the best writers I know. I felt doubly blessed when she offered to write on such a personal topic, reminding me how grateful I am for the girls’ “aunties” and prompting me to rethink what it means to “have kids.”
I’m going to say it: I hate the word “kiddo.” And “hubby.” And not to be a killjoy, but I could do without the phrase, “lucky gal,” too, as in: “Family night with the hubby and kiddos—I’m a lucky gal!” Or: “Love my hubby and my five kiddos! I’m a lucky gal!!!” Day in and day out it’s all over Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere, the daily bombardment of these “lucky gals” with their “hubbies” and “kiddos.”
I am 34 and single. Perhaps that’s evident by the above declaration. To be fair, it’s not that I don’t appreciate their gratitude; I could just do without the mom vernacular. And sure, perhaps these 15+ years on the dating scene, plus nine (yes, nine) stints as a bridesmaid and countless wedding and baby showers have made me a touch jaded—just a touch. Which is, in fact, why I so appreciate the “kiddos.” It came as a total shock.
I dreaded my friends moving into the children phase of life. I could get through the long-term relationships and the weddings and the early-married life. But when everyone starts having kids, I thought, that will really be the end of everything. Those kids will steal my friends. In some cases, they did. I’d go to the baby shower and dutifully hand over a Sophie the Giraffe or a Goodnight Moon and that would be it. I’d never really get the follow-up. Sure there’d be a text that the baby had launched, but after that, the baby—and my friend—existed only on Facebook or on the new “family blog.” It felt like a bum deal to be honest.
Then my best friend Katie made me godmother to her son, Zachary. Suddenly I was a major player in a baby’s life. This baby would actually know me. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day. And I took the job seriously. I thought about what I would teach him, what books I would introduce him to, what we would do together, and what kind of role model I wanted to be. This baby wasn’t going to just take the Sophie and run—he was in it for the long haul.
Zachary is now 2, and we are very close. Admittedly, I ply him with donuts, but Katie reports often finding him chatting on his toy phone to “Auntie BB” as I’m called. I see him, and therefore Katie, at least once a month. Rather than ending our friendship, he’s made it more meaningful.
Not to mention: he’s given me a lot of street cred on the baby circuit. As more of my friends have kids, they’ve asked for my help or included me at family dinners or movie nights. The babies beam when they see me. They recognize me as part of their people. And I now have a niece, just six weeks old, who fills me with overwhelming pride every time she burps or navigates the hiccups.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly frustrated by the dating scene and a touch morbid, I think about dying alone. Who will straighten out my affairs? Who will sit with me at the end? Who will come to the funeral? But then I get a vision of all these kids—Zachary, my niece, my friends’ children—all of them as adults gathered around me, laughing, crying, and sharing memories of Auntie BB. And then I think: I’m a lucky gal.