Saturday, February 11, 2012


Three of my best and oldest friends, all guys, live in a regional town about six and a half hours on a train ride outside of Sydney.* One of them is originally from Sydney and it was through him that I met the other two, and we’ve kind of been a gang ever since. Or rather, they’re a gang five and a half weeks out of six and I join them as an honorary country girl** the other few days, mostly when I am in town to do a wedding or just manage to get stuff sorted out so that I can be there a little. All three of them are married and, as of late last December, they all now have young children.

The boys all married very well to incredible women I am so glad to call my friends. And, I hope I can say this without sounding overly condescending, I am so proud of how they live their lives and treat their partners and now raise their children. They work and play with integrity and passion and they always want to be better.

More than two thirds of my best friends are married and most of them have been for at least two years or more. But only the guy friends have children so far. It has been a joy to meet their children and see what fully formed personalities the children have even as infants.

This most recent baby was born to the original friend of the group, the one who came from Sydney. He and I are only a few weeks apart in age and, despite having many female siblings (he also comes from a very orthodox Catholic family), it is me that he turns to when he needs sisterly advice. I was able to spare a whole week to visit in mid January and I stayed with him and his wife and their newborn for the duration of my stay.

My insomnia was being especially bitchy the week I was there and I was also on the edge of cracking something special with my thesis research, I could feel it. So I ended up offering to stay up with the baby about five of the seven nights I was in town. This tiny little girl was only a few weeks old and her parents were stupid/desperate enough to entrust her to me for a while. (More fool them, I somehow ended up singing songs with dirty words in them the first night. I was tired, give me a break.)

What was astonishing to me was how quickly I became attached to her, in a very real way. Other friends have tiny children too, but I am not tied to them like this. Part of it is the delirious time of little rest that you spend with them that leaves you in that bizarre, blurry world that only comes from chronic lack of sleep. But it’s also just that she was just so tiny and I held her so close and just didn’t want anything bad to happen to her, not ever. And that smell! That smell at the top of her head that that is just so intoxicating! What the hell is that about? Is it so one still loves her and doesn’t throw her out the window even though one might be going completely batty from lack of proper rest? And now one should stop talking about ‘one’, but it’s OK because one hasn’t slept in several days and one is CLEARLY MAD.

I spent more than my fair share of growing up caring for children younger than me. I am the second of five kids myself and have (literally dozens of) cousins so I am good with children, I kind of had to be. I have never doubted that. But oddly enough I was always indifferent to having them myself. Maybe it was partly that I saw clearly the sacrifices my parents made to have all of us and educate us the way they saw fit, sacrifices that I don’t think were worth it a lot of the time. It’s also that my relationship with my parents has always been difficult and different from my siblings. I have been a complete failure as a daughter, and that feeling as a daughter has made me cautious about having my own family. I was not the daughter my parents should have had. Lyn wrote recently that one of her biggest fears as a possible prospective mother was that her kid/kids might be truly shitty – my perspective is obviously skewed because I’m the reverse of this fear. I am the truly shitty kid, at least in their eyes. I know that when they held me as a child the life I am living is not the one they wanted for me, not even a little bit.

When you throw my illness into the mix there’s a whole new host of problems. Will I pass it on? What if childbirth does something terrifying to me and I have psychotic episodes? How can I be a good mother when I have so much trouble looking after myself?

The truth is probably a mixed bag. I would probably be about the same as a lot of you who have kids already or who are thinking about it, in that I would probably be really good at it and probably really bad at it, and probably both at the same time. Lots of probably-s.

What I do know is this: I would need to be with someone who really wanted kids. Someone who was prepared to help with the everything. The cooking, the cleaning, the driving, the disciplining, the reading, the homework, the tears, the laughter, the everything. Because I could never, NEVER, do this myself.

And I could never handle more than two. NEVER.

Quite a few of you have posted about kids lately, most of you uncertain as to whether you want them at all. My talking about children probably seems laughingly hypothetical, given I am about twenty or so steps away from being ready to have kids. But one of the things I want to know when I do eventually start dating again is whether or not I want my own little Mozettes (yeah I just cringed too, but I’m keeping it). Given I’ll be a little older, it’s probably something  I should know. Plus, having kids is usually one of the big deal breakers in relationships, I think. If one of you wants kids and one of you doesn’t, then it’s probably not a good idea to keep going.

At the moment I’m still not sure what I want, I barely just figured out that I maybe want to start dating again one day. But I do know that it will be hard and good all at the same time, and in my experience everything worthwhile is like that.

So that’s a start. And it wouldn’t be all bad, they could have my awesome music collection to play with. WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT?

In the meantime, babysitting is kind of great. And that smell just knocks me dead.

*I’ve already threatened to write a post at some point about long train rides and I’m kind of pissed that Meg over on APW stole my thunder. I’ve known about the magic of a long train ride for years.

** You can call yourself an honorary country girl if you’ve been visiting a regional town as much as I have, if you’ve worked there for at least a certain amount of time and if you can ride a motorbike and kill a snake. At least, these are the entry requirements for this particular town and my group of friends. Labels and accessories for other country towns are each sold separately. 


  1. I'll admit, I don't get the baby smell. At all. And I'm a smell kind of person! But then again, any time I have held an infant I have been terrified by their fragile foreignness. I haven't been around young kids much, not having had siblings and only really spending time with cousins my own age. So here's another probably - I'll probably like it once I am too delirious with tiredness to be terrified anymore.

    That's wonderful about your friends and so nice that you got a chance to bond with their new kiddo. And I bet they were feeling like they came out of a spa after the week you were there.

  2. It can be a difficult thing to know with great certainty whether one wants kids. I'm not sure there is always a definitive answer to that question. Something to think about, for sure, though. I know I don't want to raise a child, always have. I'm glad that I don't, because as the forth generation of my family to have major mental health issues, the odds that my hypothetical child would have problems too is pretty damn high. There seems to be a very strong genetic component to this in my family - in other families it's more 50/50 whether the genetic vulnerability is "switched on" or not. In mine it seems like it's 100%! I also have PCOS, so that would complicate things too. I'm not immune from baby smell though, it's lovely! :)

  3. The baby smell is intoxicating. I'm not entirely certain, but I always assumed it was related to their fontanelles, since that's where it seems to congregate.

    There are no easy answers to the baby question. It is something you either do or don't do. There will be days you love it, and days you hate it but still have to do it. This isn't particularly helpful. Sorry.

  4. (Catching up with your blog)

    I've never been around kids, I'm actually afraid of them, haha I think that if I hold them in my arms I'm going to drop them!
    Do I want kids? I think I want them but... Here I am, not even close, in my head I still think it's too soon, but I'm not that young... It's scary! :S


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