I happened to be in the company of three childless friends the other day when I received a text message from another friend, announcing the safe arrival of her new baby boy. Naturally, I squealed, cooed and gushed. One female and two males, all mid-twenties and single... the three friends I was in the company of looked at me as if I had suddenly grown another head that was spontaneously vomiting on their new carpet.
"I don't get it", says my girlfriend. "You've told me heaps of times - you don't even like babies. You're glad your kids are older now. What's the big fuss?"
I stare at her blankly. "Huh? What? Coo....?"
"It's... a... baby", she replies, as if both my heads are now deaf as well as vomiting on the carpet. "It cries, poos, cries, screams, feeds, cries... all the stuff you say sucked. Remember? Near drove you insane, you reckon."
I'm sure I detect a rolling of eyes. I'm a mum, I can hear when people do that, but I choose to ignore it. After all, girlfriend has a point. But, as I explain to her, this isn't just a baby - this is a newborn. Newborns and babies are two totally different things. Up until about three weeks of age, they're called newborns, and they are edible. Sleepy, sweet smelling, tiny and curly. Most women love newborns. I noticed when my first child was born; all mothers seem to have a common look around newborn babies, soft and indulgent; small, proud smiles at their lips.
After about three weeks, your newborn suddenly becomes a baby. A wriggling, icky smelling, screaming, attempting-at-independence baby. And, while still some forms of cute, babies are nowhere near as appealing as newborns. Ask any parent. Especially one who suffered arse-kicking post-natal depression.
It takes somewhere between nine months and a year for babies to begin to grow into toddlers. I would say that they grow out of ‘being annoying', but that's not true. They do become more mobile, verbal and cognitive though, and that's quite helpful, not to mention extra cute. (Always with the cute.)
This is point where, if you take just a short leap of logic, you find yourself almost wishing that ‘baby farming' was still in fashion.
Apparently, a hundred or so years ago, it was the very height of poverty to have to actually care for your own baby. Actually, it may have been the height of poverty to care for someone else's baby, because being a wet nurse was a seriously underpaid profession. It involved raising your employer's child for the first, say, two years of their life, including the breastfeeding, until which time you blithely hand them back, hopefully in one piece and past that screamy annoying teething stage. And toilet trained, too, please, nurse. If you don't mind.
Top idea, or what?
Maybe... not. From the look on Girlfriend's face I may have just announced that I drown kittens or eat dolphin or something.
But... time will tell. After all, she doesn't have any little darlings of her own yet.