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.