All that excitement quickly changed into nervousness the second I started to consider the fact that I would be the responsible one! I started to consider all the little freedoms that I probably take for granted. I have witnessed all that changes when a person goes from a child-free existence to a child-centered one. The focus shifting from self-fulfillment to self-sacrifice. I accepted that I would be functioning way beyond my comfort zone.
I'll just put it out there... I also saw this as a test and I wondered if I would pass. Surely, I told myself... I could accomplish this challenge of taking care of a miniature human for 48 hours. My niece is a great kid. She is a well adjusted with a cheerful demeanor. Piece of cake right?!
My full submersion into this make-believe parenthood started off smoothly. C didn't have any motion sickness in the car like we had worried about. The dogs managed to stay in their seats and not maul her with full face kisses the entire way there. She napped well. She seemed a little confused but knew she was safe and seemed to understand that eventually she would be reunited with her parents.
Somewhere in the second day; between breakfast and packing for the days outing I started to wonder... even if I COULD have children, SHOULD I?
I had fed the child but forgot to feed the dogs. Everyone was packed up and waiting outside for me to leave for the fishing outing. I finally appeared only to realize I hadn't packed one diaper OR wipe. Back to the house I ran!
C is potty training right now. And I did my best not to derail that too much. But I am an amateur at this and we were on the go a lot, so I ended up changing a lot of pull ups. The worst ones I changed by using a pair of scissors to cut the sides open; only to find out they are equipped with Velcro for this purpose two days later.
Bed time, day two and C didn't want to go down as easily as the night before. I know that books are a great bedtime tool - but I didn't think of one in this instant. I don't know why - it seems like regular ol' common sense. But it just didn't come to me. My friends suggested a book and it saved us from a total meltdown and eased C into sleep. Well, I should clarify that we still had a meltdown; it was just me instead of the baby.
I realized I have become comfy in my little existence. I love kids and I especially love my niece but I haven't really been a caretaker since my last babysitting job at 15. I know next to nothing about babies and children in general. Somewhere along the line I stopped being interested. I don't speak in months. I seriously question what is age appropriate every time I shop for gifts. I love to learn; but I am task oriented. I only find interest in those things I see myself utilizing in the future. So, the disappointments I have experienced have equated to this type of rejection.
It settled in on me that I couldn't do it all. I couldn't remember to feed the dogs AND the child. I couldn't figure out what to pack for an outing in a reasonable amount of time. I even lost the battle against the pull up for crying out loud! This was the perfect proof of my shortcomings and the fact that I was not put on this earth to raise children.
The parenthood. It truly demands 200% from a person 24 hours a day. This lesson was not lost on me. It led me to conclude that while it is necessary to the survival of our species to reproduce; it may be just as necessary for some of us to NOT have children. No wonder why we have so many people running around exhausted and all stressed out.
Did you know that Anna Jarvis founded mother's day; yet she never had any children of her own?
Rosa Parks, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Coco Chanel, Emily Dickenson, Julia Child all left important marks on our society. Add to that list; Helen Clark, Kat Cole, Angela Davis, Elizabeth Cole. These are all writers, activists and leaders in business who do not have children. Without these child-less minds our world might be very different.
“I don’t regret not having children. I am very much at peace with that. Perhaps I do have that occasional twinge, but you can’t do everything.”
—Jacqueline Bisset, actress
At the end of the weekend we returned a perfectly healthy child intact with every accessory she came with. I couldn't believe how many times the one and only "ninny" was lost and found. When we dropped my niece off at home my sister commented that she learned about how much you can get done sans children. I joked that I had learned the opposite.
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