Thursday, April 03, 2008

You've got it all wrong...

It happened again; or, rather, it happened for the first time at this office. My coworker with whom I share an office brought her 8-month-old child in for the first time. And nothin’. As people crowded my space to see the baby, beg to hold the baby (who clearly didn’t want to be held by anyone other than Mommy), talk to the baby in babytalk and just stare, I quickly went back to work. Wrong answer, apparently.

“Not a big fan of babies, are you?”

Oh no gals, just have a bit of a migraine, I lied. I didn’t want to hold the baby. Sure he was cute and my tiny little Filipino friend was adorable with her son. But the way everyone just ogled and stared, I just didn’t get it. I greeted him, then turned around to work until I started to feel self-conscious that I was not ignoring everything but the baby.

My childfreeness has come up a couple times at work, where it seems to be more accepted than in my suburban jobs, but moments like this just single me out and people start asking uncomfortable questions. It seems weird when I don’t pay attention to the kid. I just don’t care, and sometimes I wish I did at least a little. I can appreciate a cute baby, but it’s a glance and move on sort of thing. I’m the same way with puppies. They’re nice to look at for a bit, but then on to different things. Apparently this makes me weird.

And it was noticed.

Usually my friend opens the day with a funny story about the baby, and it’s cute. It’s part of who she is. Since this incident (and it feels like an “incident”), I initiate conversations about him. It’s like a rift was erected… oh, SHE didn’t want to hold Anthony, she didn’t want to play with him or goo-goo-gaa-gaa at him. What’s her problem?

And it makes me sad. I’m glad we’re moving desks next week and I won’t be sitting next to her, because while I’ve really enjoyed sitting beside her, there’s a palpable awkwardness that’s just stupid and it doesn’t need to be there.


Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. Enjoying it very much. I'm childfree but only by semi-choice. Husband is infertile yet agreed to let me get preggers by sperm donor. Choice is up to me. But having to go to a Dr's office to get pregnant makes me thing harder about whether I really want this. Always wanted kids before I got married. Also wanted my hubby's kid. Not so sure now that it has to be such an effort. Running out of time biologically. Just looking for dialog of happy childfree people. Thanks for yours.

Emily said...

Oh Stasha, I have so been there with babies in the office... My basic emotion is something along the line of: meh. While I've never had any social ostracism for it, it certainly emphasized my "otherness" to me...

Deidre said...

I've had this happen too. I like kids and am great with kids (I was even a nanny for triplets for a while) but I don't go nuts over babies. Part of that is because it's no fun for a baby to be swarmed by large people staring at it and making goofy faces and part of it is because, well, it's just a baby.

And I hate that this is a gender thing too. If a baby is in the office and a man ignores it he gets a free pass. Not true for women.

Anonymous said...

(I just found your blog and am really looking forward to reading thru all of your postings. . .)

I don't know how many times something like the scene you described in your office has happened to me. I've spent the majority of my life in the South (caring for my mother) and not having or wanting children makes you a complete freak. I cannot tell you how tired I am of having to pretend that I'm remotely interested in someone's offspring.

Don't get me wrong--I don't hate kids. I'm just not all that interested in them, especially when they're babies. (They're a bit more interesting when they're a little older and have started to show a little of their personalities.) But when you don't "ooh" and "ahh" over whatever baby happens to be in close proximity at the moment, there must be something wrong with you. Why can't other women just accept the fact that not all women want to be mothers? (And don't even get me started on the fact that not all women SHOULD be mothers. . .)

Margaret said...

I completely hear you! It's nice to know that I'm not the only woman who isn't crazy about babies. I like hanging out with older kids, and I like some of my friend's babies. I really don't get the concept of bringing babies to the office anyway. I mean, I don't bring my wonderful cat into the office, so why should someone bring their baby?

Stella said...

Y'all aren't alone!

I share the feelings described in this post and by previous commenters. It IS like bringing your cat in. Unprofessional.

I don't "get" babies either and, frankly, find them mildly repulsive - in the sense that I don't appreciate people foisting them on me (I refuse - I have never held a baby under a year and a half, nor do I want to).

Thanks for this blog. I can't wait to read your archives.

Isa said...

Totally not into babies, not in the slightest. Puppies however are a different thing altogether!;-p