“But Mommy, I don’t want to have children,” my daughter said this morning, stomping her feet to make sure I caught the level of her devotion. “I don’t like it when babies cry, and I don’t want to listen to them cry. And how about if I go to work and you watch the babies for me and then I can see them when I come home.”
She’s four, but she’s a planner.
“And I don’t want to change smelly stinky diapers! Ewww! Will you watch them for me, Mommy, so that I can go to work?”
I smiled at my little girl, so full of determination to settle this matter immediately.
“What do you want to do for work?” I asked.
She looked confused. Her tiny jaw dropped open an inch.
“Um, get money. I want to go to work so that I can get money.”
“That’s nice, but what do you want to do for your work? Daddy works with computers, I like to write, your brother wants to be a paleontologist — what is it you want to do?”
“I want to be a dancer!” she cried, and bounded around the room. “I want to do ballet for work!”
“And you don’t want to stay home with your children?”
“No. Because first they’ll be babies. And THEN–” her face plummeted with dread. “They’ll turn into KIDS!”
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“What’s wrong with that? You could do what I do. You could take your babies to the park, you could–”
“No, Mommy! Babies don’t do anything at the park. They can’t do anything. And I’d have to HOLD them so I couldn’t go to the PLAYGROUND!”
Ahhh… the sweet musings of my little girl. She does have a point, though. It is difficult to play on the playground when you’re holding a baby. Or even a bigger child. Just last week my daughter wanted me to sit her on my lap so we could go down the slide together. Of course alarms went off in my head that she’s too big for this now, but you try saying no to her bright shiny eyes.
I gathered her in my lap, which consisted of perching at the top of a twisty-slide with an opening the size of a mouse hole, grasping my daughter’s shirt to keep from having her squeeze away from me, only to duck my head and begin our descent at the same time another little girl decided to run up the slide from the bottom, leaving me screaming, “Look out! Look out! I can’t stop!” and all the other mothers turned toward me like heads at a tennis match and the slide held onto me like mud and let me slip down bit by bit at the same time, twisting my body as I kept my little girl in a death grip trying not to crash into the other girl now half-way up and looking terrified.
She spun a nimble 180 and slid down the slide like a ghost, while I remained half-on, half-off and bruised my elbow so badly I couldn’t lift a glass of water later that night when I recounted the story to my husband.
“…and my elbow still hurts,” I finished.
My daughter came up behind me. Brushed some hair out of her eyes in a frenzy.
“And Mommy, I don’t want to have babies because they’ll sit on my lap and I’ll hurt my elbow when we go down the slide!”
Before I could reply, she was out of the room. I wonder, sometimes, what I’m teaching her about motherhood, family, life in general. The truth is, I loved when my children were babies, and I love having them as little kids. I hope in the end, my little girl remembers that I did hold her when she cried, and I did carry her down the slide, and I’d do it all over again.