One night, last summer, I arrived at my friend’s house and found a baby. Actually I saw the baby walker and began to frantically ask where the baby was. This was not a usual thing at this particular house. I have friends who have kids, but these were not one of them and I had never seen a baby toy near these three boys. One of them pointed towards the living room, where a baby was being changed on the couch by one of the roommates.
After he was done, I asked if I could hold the baby and then proceeded not to wait for an answer, instead just scooped up the little boy. A little over a year old, he took to me like his own mother, or maybe I just thought that, because I had his bottle in one hand and that’s what he wanted. I took a picture of me with the baby and sent it to my friends, the caption: “Hey, look what I found!” I got more than one message telling me to give the baby back.
I’m a little baby obsessed. *hears friends disagree in my head* Okay, a lot baby obsessed. Most 26-year-olds are concerned about finding the right job or finding the right significant other or even just about having fun. Me? I’m concerned about having a baby. Yes, it has gradually progressed to this.
I grew up playing house, more interested in baby dolls than Barbies. My grandma tells me I roped her and my aunts into playing with me, dictating what character they would play, even giving one aunt the title “the mean old aunt” (to this day, my great aunt signs cards with this title). My mom tells me I was a “little mother” to my younger brother and he didn’t talk for the longest time because I spoke for him. She also tells me that I played house longer than most girls, until I was in 6th grade. I just couldn’t let go of being a mom. Thankfully, my aunts started having kids and I was able to care for real babies.
When I was a senior in college, I lived with four other women (and their significant others and friends and sorority sisters). One woman dated a man much older than she was who had grandkids (his kids were our age (22)). Now, you can’t place much blame on a nine-month-old baby when she came to live with us for days at a time. Our whole house went baby nuts, always hanging around the baby, wanting to hold her, play with her, have her sleep in their room. I was no different from my roommates. In this house I gained the nickname, “The Baby Whisperer.” Once, I even looked at a baby and he stopped crying. I loved having a baby around the house, offering to babysit or let her sleep in my room while my roommates went out.
I used to be content watching babies that weren’t mine, babysitting and doting on my cousins, having had a 15 year difference, and then watching close friends get pregnant and have babies. In my head I hear the clock ticking away every time someone mentions a baby or when I see a baby. I’d like to have a baby by 30, only three and a half years away. Is this an unreasonable amount of time? Probably not. Then why does this seem unrealistic, even to me? The main reason remains—not having a partner.
A couple months ago my friend told me she wanted two kids by 30 (right now she’s 27) and within the year, once she gets settled after graduating, she wants to start the process of making that dream come true. I was surprised to hear this, she seemed to have it all figured out. And then I started wondering, why couldn’t this be a possibility for me? I know I don’t need to have a significant other to have a baby. But, I realized, that this was a distinct possibility for her, my friend knew her career path. She doesn’t necessarily know where in the U.S. she is going to end up, but she knows what she wants to do and the steps to get there. Me? I have no clue. How am I thinking about having a baby while not knowing what I want to do with the rest of my life? I think that’s where I get hung up. Whether I fall in love and get married in the near future doesn’t matter as much to me than finding something steady to support myself and a child.
For the time being, I’m okay with being called mom or mama by my friends. I oftentimes hear, “thanks mom,” when I provide a stack of napkins at a restaurant or from my roommate when I give her food. But, I daydream about having a kid of my own. I think about being pregnant or even adopting. I think about where I’ll live and what it will be like to explore the world with a child.
Sara J. Soulati received her MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She lives in Mankato with her bunny, Barnaby and betta fish, Scout. Her favorite part of staying home sick from school was getting to watch A Baby Story on TLC. She blogs at sarasou2006.blogspot.com.