The Question That Childless Women Rarely Want to Hear


"Do you want to hold the baby?"

A simple question that's not simple at all. My assumption is that for child free (by choice) women, the answer isn't difficult: No! For those of us childless by chance, it's not so easy. I always want to hold the baby. Any baby. Any age. But, as my husband reminds me time and again, doing so will mess me up for days.

It's been a long, long time since anyone has asked me that question. My 60th birthday is within sight. The last infant I held was my goddaughter, and she is now almost 25. The children of my closest Momfriends are in or out of college, and it's been at least 15 years since I was at a baby shower or at the home of a new Mom.

Ah, but what about the GrandMoms?

My next door neighbor rang my bell holding her new infant grandson. I opened the door and she said excitedly, "Do you want to hold the baby?" Is it possible to have simultaneous, conflicting thoughts in your head? Sure it is. At the exact same moment, I thought, "NO!" and "YES!". I invited her in, then reached for the child. I heard my husband's voice behind me: "Hon, don't do it."

But I did.

The smell of baby powder and babyness overwhelmed me. The squirming little bundle fit so

perfectly in my arms. His grandmother's approving smile beamed at me. The baby beamed a

smile at me. I was so very content.

Until I wasn't.

After less than five minutes, she took him from my grasp, saying how she just KNEW I wanted to meet him. And then, they were gone. HE was gone. And I was a wreck.

'Wreck' meaning, I was in tears.

Looking back at that moment, I can't help but wonder exactly what would have been the

acceptable way to say, "No, I don't want to hold your baby." Or grand baby. As my husband

predicted, I wish I'd come up with an appropriate answer. "No, I'd rather not" would leave the GrandMom (or Mom) hurt and confused.

"No, I have a cold" would have worked, but I didn't think of it soon enough.

The door shut, the baby and his grandmother were gone, and I was quiet in the way that told

my considerate spouse that something was very, very wrong.

It wasn't MY baby. There will never BE my baby. How could I have chosen this childless

path? To me, I didn't choose a childless path, and yet. I didn't fight for it hard enough. And by age 40, ambivalence had earned a very loud voice that seemed to make sense...until the choice was no more.

And once the decision is out of my hands, I have come to believe that every By Chance NotMom suffers from the regret of thinking she has made the wrong choice. The grass is greener on the other side and all that.

Moving on. Finding acceptance. Learning to live with the life you have and acknowledging the

blessings that fall upon you in other ways. All of that takes time to appreciate and achieve.

None of it is easy, but, as they say, it is what is.

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