Friday, April 24, 2015

The Life of a Non-Mother

Or: Why Your Single Female Friend Always Wants to Come for Dinner

{Side Note: This is a guest post from my dear SIL, Bridget. This space is full of stories about raising kids, and she's here to say you don't have to be a parent to tell them. Read on for a take from a different point of view, then have yourself a lovely weekend.}

When I was little, my absolute favorite toys were baby dolls.

I loved them. I had a little rocking chair and cradle that my grandpa made me, just the right size for rocking my babies and putting them to sleep. I had crocheted blankets for them made by my grandma. My most darling child was Amanda, a beautiful baby Santa brought me with real hair and bright blue eyes.

When I got older, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a mommy. I took care of my baby cousins with the enthusiasm of a tiny new mother who’s been praying for a stork to arrive. I’d sleep in the living room where the pack-n-play stood and get up in the middle of the night to feed, change, and soothe them. It was wonderful.

In high school, I babysat every summer and almost every weekend. After high school, I took a job working in the after school program at my elementary school. From that, I moved onto daycare, spending days alone in a room with nine two-year-olds and loving it. I took care of friends' babies, toddlers, kids. I was Miss Bridget for so long, I forgot my other first name. Unfortunately, however, as I got older I had to find a job with which I could support myself, but even then I still loved caring for kids.

My best friend at my first grownup job had a son, Stephen, and I became a godmother for the first time. I loved being there for her pregnancy and learning everything I could about it. I waited anxiously for the day she would call and say “He’s here!” and I'd rush to the hospital to hold him. I can’t explain in words what that was like, but it was beautiful. He’d spend weekends with me and we created our own little world. Years later, I would see the birth of my goddaughter to two of my best friends, and I would spend every possible second with them. The first time they asked if I’d like to take her for the weekend I tried not to seem insane with the speed of my "Yes!" I had diapers, formula, wipes, and blankets in my closet at home. I bought a car seat for my car.

A year later, my first nephew joined us, and my heart exploded when I saw his face. My second godson, my little monkey baby, my Nate Dogg. Nathan. He was so tiny, with his itty hands and bitty feet and squished little nose and I loved him so much. I very seriously said to a friend, “I can’t bear to have my own children, I’ll never be able to love anyone more.” I got another car seat for my car. I was Aunt B.

Seven months later I believed with all my heart that my future as a mother was in Maine, so I packed up and moved. It broke my heart to say goodbye, but I wanted a love and a life of my own. Instead, what I learned was that my destiny lie somewhere else. I made friends with people with kids, and those kids and I adored each other. My best friend had two amazing daughters and I loved them so much I could cry {and often did}. Another friend had a son who became my third godson, and his big sister was also added to my collection. As I grew older and was gifted with more and more children to love, I realized my heart's desire had changed. Maybe being a mother wasn't my calling, but I could love these children so much they'd never know the difference.

In those five years away, there was another nephew born down south, and then a niece! Then after a tragic diagnosis, I was headed home to Arkansas, to family and a baby I could watch grow from the very beginning. Saying goodbye to sweet kids and hello to others.

I reconnected with old friends and their families and I became Miss Bridget again. I color and play cars, tell stories and read books, and talk about silly things. {Mostly toots. Kids love toots. I am learning to see the humor.}

People ask, "Do you have kids?" And I say "Oh, no, not me." But that's not true, not really. They may not be my sons and daughters, but I have them. I carry them in my heart and love them fiercely, and that love means something. I worry about them. I'm so proud when they succeed, even prouder when they try and fail, but are proud of themselves. My heart breaks when they cry, when they're confused and scared. I get frustrated sometimes and use the "day care voice" and they listen, because it's a good one. I wipe noses and hold hands and fill them with candy and laughter and hopefully love of themselves. They mean the world to me. I'm not Mama or Mumma or Mommy, but I'm Aunt B and Miss Bridget, and I hold that title just as close to my heart.

So, yes. I have kids. A whole tribe of them. They're mine and I'm theirs and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

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Unknown said...

So sweet. All those kids are lucky to have a Bridget in their life. Extra parents are always the best!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Karen! I'm insanely lucky to have all of them!