For the first 24 years of my life, my interest in babies was precisely zero. When a parent asked if I’d like to hold their baby, I would politely decline and then back away from the baby as if I’d encountered a snake in the woods. Something about babies made me deeply uncomfortable. They were little blobs of barely-human, unable to communicate in anything but gurgles, poops, and caterwauls. Why not just get an actual cat?
It wasn’t until my 25th year that I experienced my first paternal urge. It welled up inside of me out of nowhere and it terrified me. How could I possibly want to father a child, given the reality that all children begin as babies? Let alone the fact that babies become toddlers — ceaselessly energetic snotmonsters intent on destroying everything their parents hold dear. The baby phase itself was all the birth control I needed. So where did this urge even come from?
It only got worse with time. By my late 20s I found myself oohing and awwing at babies and small children in the same way I’d always reacted to seeing an adorable animal. There was genuine love in my heart for these creatures. Most bizarrely, I began to feel a longing to provide food, shelter, and emotional support to one or two of them, should the opportunity to procreate ever arise. What was becoming of me?
I’ve lost it completely in my 30s. Not only do I accept babyhood as a stage of humanity and find babies altogether endearing, I also can’t control my amusement with their stuff. Baby toys. Baby clothes. Blankets and crib skirts. Area rugs and nursery wall art. I can’t get enough of it.
The clinching moment occurred in May, when Lauren and I were in a toy shop in Portland, Maine, just a few weeks after we learned we were pregnant. I went into this store assuming I’d be unmoved by any of its contents. I was proven wrong on two counts: 1) They had an excellent selection of tabletop games; 2) THIS:
The Skip Hop Activity Elephant. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It was displayed eye-level next to other activity animals — monkey, owl, puppy, lion — but I only had eyes for the elephant. I imagined our child playing with this silly thing, crinkling its crinkly feet and squeezing its squeaky ear. It was the first time I’d clearly envisioned our child doing anything, and it brought me to tears. The activity elephant had brought me to tears.
There’s no turning back now. When I see other people’s babies, I am filled with anticipation and excitement for what’s to come. Dozens of people have told us, “Enjoy these last couple months of peace and quiet. Your life will never be quiet again.” It doesn’t faze me. This baby is going to make a lot of noise and a lot of poop. Our house won’t be clean again until 2033. We won’t stop worrying about the child until we’re dead. To all this I say: bring it on.
When I see other people’s babies, I know that I’m ready.