The Cost of Babies

I was so worried, before the birth, about the end of my youth. I had always associated parenthood with age. Parents, if not actually old people, start behaving like old people. They must be Responsible, which seems to mean that they must dress badly and go to bed early. And the only time they can possibly want to socialize is at brunch, which is my least favourite social convention of all of North American society with the possible exception of weddings. (No, really, how I loathe and dread brunch – a time of intense physical discomfort caused by hunger and hangover and endless waiting for the simplest of foods, at precisely that ripe, uninterrupted time of the weekend when one could be accomplishing so much else – well, that will be another blog.)

Where were we? Parenthood and age. Anything that makes you look forward to brunch must be a terrible curtailment of youth.

So I had a surprising epiphany when I read, just before Hugo was born, an essay by the Canadian author Lisa Moore about childbirth. (It was in an anthology of birth stories that she edited, an anthology that my partner read eagerly before her labour and that I found, on the whole, numbingly predictable and self-indulgent and weepy and without significance. But that’s other people’s birth stories, not mine. Funny how these things work.) Anyway, Lisa Moore wrote that she loved having babies (and she does; she has had eighty-seven or three or something) and that she dreads growing older because it will be the end of that activity.

Well, believe it or not, it had not actually occurred to me – I know this is ridiculous; I am an intelligent guy, but honestly, this way of looking at it had not occurred to me – that for women, babies are necessarily associated with youth. And that I could be looking at it this way too. That old people actually physically cannot have babies. That if I am willing to do this I must be enjoying some kind of last blast of vitality. That it in fact confirms my youth, rather than negating it. That’s the way I’m going to try to look at it, anyway. Even when I’m walking along Queen Street pushing my stroller and realizing that the girls in tank tops aren’t looking at me any more.

Image courtesy of Prenology.


3 thoughts on “The Cost of Babies”

  1. Enjoyable post as always. For young women to notice you with a baby wear a maya sling or similar baby carrier (not a Baby Bjorn – too 80s). They flocked to me at the mall with my infant.
    IMHO for a man having a baby is not about youth since we can father a child well into our senior years. I think your first instinct is right in that being a Dad makes you older and responsible. No longer raving until 4 am or rushing off to Montreal for the weekend. Now everything has to be planned. You are alas no longer young. But he is worth it isn’t he (A Dad who just dropped off his 24 yo at college and has a 3 yo @ home)

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