Last weekend, while my family was out at breakfast, we ran into a family we hadn’t seen in years. Since it had been quite a while, their family had grown and they had just recently had a baby. As we struggled to catch up quickly in the busy restaurant, she introduced us to their newest addition – an adorable little girl, about 6 months old.
And then it happened. She extended the baby towards me…and I knew exactly what the next words out of her mouth were going to be. “Do you want to hold her?,” she asked.
You see, the problem with this inquiry is that there’s no nice way to say no. There just isn’t. And yet, I still didn’t want to hold her (ridiculously cute) baby. All too experienced with this situation, I tried to reach out to gently touch the baby’s hand and smile at her instead. Unfortunately, with the angle that the mom tried to “deliver” the child into my arms, it resulted in a strange and awkward face/arm petting event where I again told the mom how cute her daughter was (seriously, she’s adorable). After it was all over, and as awkward as it might have been, I still breathed a sigh of relief because I didn’t have to actually hold her baby.
Make no mistake, I love my children and held them all. the. time. when they were babies. In fact, I still hold them often. Just ask my 5 year old who refuses to wake up every morning for school causing me to have to carry her down the stairs because I don’t have time for a fight I can’t win at 7am. Or my 3 year old who has decided that I’m better than furniture, and – without any notice – will plop herself down on my lap make her self comfortable. And if there’s ever an Olympic event where someone has to rinse and load dishes into a dishwasher with one hand while holding a nearly 1 year old with the other, Everett’s trained me for the gold medal. No one else has a chance.
But hold someone else’s baby? Um, no.
The awkward occurrence last Sunday morning isn’t the first of it’s kind, nor will it be the last. More and more often, I feel like I’m put in the situation where I’m politely declining or downright dodging babies that are being thrust into my arms, because people assume I want to hold them.
Except I don’t.
Honestly, I just don’t feel the need to hold them. And if I’m absolutely candid about it, as flattered as I am that a parent would trust me with their beloved child, holding other babies makes me uncomfortable. Truth is, before having my own babies, I wasn’t much of a baby person. I wasn’t someone who babysat other kids or gushed over random babies in public. It’s not that I don’t like other people’s babies, it’s just that I like them slightly better from afar. The love and bond that I have for my kids – that makes me want to hold them – doesn’t exist between me and other children. And that natural, “I love babies” that seems inherent in most other women, just I don’t have.
Of course, like anything else, there are exceptions. For example, if I’m visiting a friend with a new baby and the baby starts to fuss just as the mom starts to do something in the other room, I’m happy to help out by holding her baby. But in that case, I’m really helping the mom out, not getting a baby fix. It’s so difficult to get things done around the house with a newborn, and if I can help a mom out – either by doing things around the house for her or holding a baby while she does things around the house – I’ll do it. Do I get a warm fuzzy sensation from holding a little baby? No. But I’m helping a mom out and I like that.
I often question what makes people ask or assume that I want to hold their baby. Maybe it’s what they think friends do. Maybe because I’m female (goodness knows, I get more inquiries than my husband…even though they have a much better chance of a “yes” with him). Or maybe it’s because I already have children. Or maybe it’s because every other person on Earth wants a baby fix and I’m the only one struggling to find a polite way to say no. I’m not sure.
While discussing this post with a friend of mine – who is very much a Baby Holder, and will hunt people down to hold a baby – it became apparent that this is one of those things where you either are or you aren’t. So which are you – a Baby Holder or a Baby Dodger?