I Can’t Deny It: Babies ARE Cute

I’ve never been a girl who plans her wedding or thinks about having kids. After proclaiming myself a feminist in sixth grade, I looked down at my peers who planned their domestic future all through high school and college; especially after I learned how the patriarchy and consumerism dominate momentous events like having a baby, and create competition among mothers.My friends were the same. One of my closest friends, a newspaper editor, once IMed me complaining about how she had to put the “least amount of baby” in a picture accompanying a story. I have several friends who talk about having their tubes tied, in all seriousness.

So how to explain my new obsession with all things baby-related? I’m only twenty-three, and children (even a committed relationship) are a long way off. I could excuse the repeated viewings of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom on my junky reality TV habit. Even though I know all the names of the girls and their stories, I could say I’m making fun of the teens, obviously; not grinning at the newborn babies’ cuteness.

I also have a habit of following fashion blogs, despite taking most of my fashion cues from sale racks (it happens when you are forced to spend 10-12 hours a day on a computer). And the past year, it seemed like all of my favorite bloggers were pregnant! These were smart, stylish, savvy women, and I adored seeing them dress for their pregnant bodies, and the cute letters they wrote to their babies and items they bought to decorate their nursery.

I even started reading parenting.com after a favorite single mom writer started blogging for the site. Even the horror of seeing women give birth in amusement parks on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant didn’t deter me from reading about water births and the Bradley method.

I also got in trouble with an ex-boyfriend I still talked to. I would frequently send him links to baby posts ““ how cute is this hat? Do you think something is wrong with this one’s head? I want this nursery print in my bedroom! He accused me of manipulating him, and said that by showing him these pictures I was insinuating we might get back together and have kids together someday. We stopped talking, and now I have no one to share my baby love with.

One reason for my newfound nesting interest might be my culture. After never being able to discuss boys with my parents for fear of a disapproving look or a lecture, choosing a future husband is now a regular dinner table conversation topic. Now that I have graduated from college and entered the working world, it is suddenly acceptable to discuss what I want in a potential mate, including children. I also enjoy learning about Western childcare and how it differs from my own upbringing. Eating habits, dress, and activities are different from the very beginning, it seems.

And though my close friends are far from starting families, it seems like every day a Facebook “friend” gets engaged, married, or announces a pregnancy. Of course, the ultrasound pictures and status updates describing food cravings follow.

I eventually decided that although some prominent feminists are vocal about how modern women don’t need to have children and have decided to stay childless themselves, it doesn’t mean that my interest in superficial baby-related media makes me any less committed to women’s rights. Supporting pro-choice causes and affordable birth control doesn’t require me to claim I don’t look forward to starting a family some day.

So I’ll continue to read my websites and watch babies on television, and hopefully find someone to share my interest with someday.

4 thoughts on “I Can’t Deny It: Babies ARE Cute”

  1. I think this (and the Pitfalls of Young Marriage) post pinpoint two reasons why a lot of women shy away from identifying and learning about feminism. To most people, a feminist is someone who hates men, hates babies and thinks the world would be better off with just powerful women all over. Which is totally wrong! I love babies, but if my coworker doesn’t… well, that’s fine and it’s not really my place to judge. Nor is it her place to say I’m betraying my feminist side! We as a society are all about being judgmental and maybe it’s just me, but I’m kind of sick of the negativity that comes with it.

    This is totally devolving into a rant now. Babies are totally cute. My nephew took 4 steps to me this weekend and I almost died of the cute.

  2. When I was in my early 20’s I went through so much of what you’re describing. My parents weren’t pressuring me, but it seemed like everyone I knew was pregnant or planning. My friends were buying clothes, decorating nurseries, sharing tips, laughing about cravings, complaining about aches and pains, etc etc. Even a close friend who had an unplanned pregnancy adjusted to the idea, pulled her life together, and is raising an amazing daughter. I was surrounded by baby bumps– magazines, TV, just walking around the ball. I too started reading (and still read) bloggers who write about all the wild and weird and funny aspects of motherhood. I’ll admit it– I was baby crazy. My boyfriend at the time certainly didn’t want to hear about it. I also didn’t want to scare him off, because it wasn’t so much that I was yearning to have a baby with HIM, and not even anytime soon. I just envied the experience in general.

    Anyway… that’s a long explanation trying to convey that you are not alone! The thing that helped me the most was admitting that I was feeling emotions that totally conflicted with the rest of my life, but that it was healthy and normal. People joke about the biological clock, but it’s a reality, and many women in their early 20s experience a really strong desire. Once I admitted that it was real and OK, I started taking an active role in the lives of my friend’s kids. I did a lot of free babysitting– it helped fill some of my nurturing instinct (and need to cuddle) while giving some overwhelmed friends a chance to go to out for dinner or run errands. I went to 1st birthday parties and gifted fun books.

    After a while, I found that being the “auntie” was the best of both worlds. I could be involved in babies lives and see firsthand the real life of parenting. I could change diapers, bottle feed, buy gifts, read and play, take trips to the zoo and park, all without lifelong commitment. In short, I had a lot of fun but could still give a baby back to her parents and go back to studying, preparing for my career, and appreciating my relative independence. I think the combination all those things make for a great parent when the time does come around.

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