I always hated kids. I mean really, really, did not like them. I found them loud, sticky, and unnecessarily whiney, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to have them. Any time I’d say this to someone, they’d always reply, "Ah, but you’ll change your mind". I promised them I wouldn’t. I’d much rather a family of cats, dogs and pigeons than a little girl or boy. No doubt about it.
I put this down to the fact that I’m the baby of my family. I have no younger siblings and I was never around babies while I was growing up. Maybe it’s selfish, but I just didn’t want other little ones around. When I was 14, I got a part-time job as a kids’ birthday party host. It was awful. Imagine trying to entertain 20 screaming children, all high on sugar and under the age of 10. I suffered through two years of that before getting a job in a shoe shop, where I had to measure crying babies’ feet. I was kicked in the head a few times, wholloped with balloons and had snot rubbed into my clothes. How, after all of that, could I possibly want children of my own?
Well, as it turns out, things change. I changed. It’s not that I suddenly became maternal, but the environment I live in and the people I’m surrounded by changed my outlook on life. To start with, my only sister got pregnant with her first child. Our conversations quickly evolved from TV shows and beauty regimes to trimesters and baby scans. Then, when my nephew was born, my entire world shifted. With a happy birthday card tucked in my handbag, I went to visit him in hospital. He was only a few hours old – think very tiny, squishy and pink. My heart melted, and out of nowhere, my eyes welled up. This baby, wrapped neatly in a blue cotton blanket, wasn’t loud, sticky or unnecessarily whiney. He was quiet, soft, and absolutely beautiful. My brother-in-law asked if I’d like to hold him, and although I was nervous (I’d never even spoken to a baby before, never mind held a newborn), I eagerly accepted the offer. As the infant was placed into my arms, his eyes still yet to open, he clasped his little hand around my finger and that was that. I was in love.
Watching him grow into the tot he is today has been eye-opening for me. What I once described as noisy screaming is actually the most precious sound in the world. Everything from his laugh to his (currently) nonsensical words (“bvvvv-mama-thaaart”) makes me smile. He’s taught me to have patience with other children too. Yesterday, while on the bus home from work, a mother was trying to settle her very fussy daughter. Instead of getting frustrated by the incessant noise, I smiled at the baby and went back to my book. If I wasn’t so self-aware I wouldn’t recognise myself.
Not only did my nephew make me think differently about children, but when I consider the idea of having my own someday, I’m no longer scared. While this could be down to my newfound (and rather expert) nappy changing skills, I think my current relationship is a factor too. For the first time in my life, I’m in a genuinely happy relationship. I’ve had long-term boyfriends before, but we always spent our time arguing with one another. Now, I’m with someone I can laugh with, be silly with – someone who makes me feel better simply by being there. He’s great with children too. Having grown up with lots of younger cousins, he’s comfortable with kids and he’d love to have some of his own someday. It’s encouraging to know that, if I decided it was time to start a family, I’m with a person who would be involved, supportive, and most importantly, excited by it all.
I don’t plan on having a baby any time soon – like, literally not for years. But I know that I’d like to have one eventually, and right now, that’s enough.