I shuddered at the thought of ever having another baby.
Aidan was "a good baby."
The first few times people asked me that while I was plowing my buggy through the grocery store, I really didn't know what they meant. "Of course, he's a good baby," I'd think. "He's two months old, for Frith's sake. He doesn't even do anything yet. How could he be anything but good?"
As I became more a part of the Secret Underground Motherhood Club, I began to understand the meaning behind the question. Asking if a baby is "good" is some sort of code for the following:
- Is he/she colicky?
- Does he/she sleep through the night?
- Is he/she on a schedule?
- Is he/she cutting teeth?
- Is he/she doing all the things the doctors tell you that he/she should be doing at this age?
- Does he/she give you hell if you put him/her down and walk away?
It's like a goddamn job interview.
"Yes," I'd reply, finally a part of the club, "he is a good baby." And he was.
But that didn't mean I'd ever want to have another one.
Fast-forward to another sunshiney day, six years later. The garage has been cleaned out, every single baby-related item sent to the local Goodwill. I'm back in school, thinking about my career. My Future, a proper noun, is simply waiting for me at the end of my own personal Yellow Brick Road. All I need to do is follow the path and whatever I wish for will be waiting for me at the end. I know this. I am that certain.
No one told me about the tricky little fork at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.
No one told me to zag left.
No one told me to watch out for "the road less-traveled."
Oh, there was something waiting for me at the end, alright, but it sure as hell didn't look like Kansas. It looked like, well, like this.
Sorry to bother you, but can you tell me if I'm still wearing ruby slippers?
And so it was.
But the thing is, the whole "baby" thing, the whole purpose of today's B word, is that my life is a zillion times better than I ever thought it would be. I thought I'd met the perfect guy for me in Richard, because I'd been told he'd had a vasectomy. And as crazy as it is when I look back on it now, I believed it like it was just a part of him. It would be like me questioning the fact that he worked in air conditioning, or that he was from Alabama. It had been an off-handed remark he made to one of the ladies he worked with and it just sort of snowballed from there, landing in my ear for the final resting place. I thought he was, well, "fixed."
And when I see my life now, with two boys and a husband, I guess he was.
Babies. They aren't for everyone. They shouldn't be. But if you should happen to find yourself carrying one--one you never knew you wanted--be happy you chose the path you never meant to choose.
The ruby slippers? Oh, they still fit. They're somewhere in the back of the closet. Sometimes I pull them out, dust them off, and try them on, but I realize they aren't for me anymore. Not right now. I haven't given up, per se. I'm still in school, still chasing the dream of getting paid to write terrific novels until my fingers bleed, but I'm not quite there yet.
And we're all okay with that.