For a couple of years now (OK, since I turned 15) I’ve felt an overwhelming urge.Not just the urge to attempt to mount the TV when I see Leo’s face during my weekly cry-fest to Romeo and Juliet, but to become a mum. When I see people with babies my womb actually gives a little twinge. I even worked as a nursery nurse for 3 years, spending 8 hours a day cleaning up piss and having crayons shoved up my nose. I loved it so much that I actually wanted to get up in the morning (on the right is the only picture I could find of me at work, I had to steal it off the evening press website. As you can see, I’m looking pretty pleased).
Weirdly though, saying you’re a nursery nurse gets a strange reaction from some people. Boys tend to think you’re going to sneak off and poke holes in the condom so that you can trap them forever. If you don’t spend your days downing pints and discussing the merits of Grinderman/bacon/Jonjo Shelvey then you’re relegated to the ‘girly’ brigade, looked upon with thinly veiled contempt and seen as a threat to their independence. ‘Ah mate, I was shagging her for a bit but I overheard her call some kid cute so I did one. Bitches be crazy’ etc. The worst kinds of girls try to perpetuate this, telling blokes that they’re scared of kids and their ‘tiny creepy hands’ (even though they love kids really), in the hope that their blokes won’t be scared of them, their girlfriends. The girls are spilt into two halves; some say ‘aww, babies’, but most of them pull a face like I’ve said my day job is shaving Bruce Forsyth’s ballsack; a face of disgust. ‘Eugh’ they sniff. ‘Don’t they, like, cry all the time? Isn’t it really messy and gross?’. They revel in the fact that they don’t like kids, that they wouldn’t want to hold a baby. They’re proud of not knowing how to change a nappy. Secretly I reckon most of them think babies are dead cute, but feeling like that doesn’t seem to fit in with being a go-getting modern woman. Fair enough, some people genuinely don’t want kids; but why do so many people villify those who do? My question is…when did maternal become a dirty word?
One of my mates is a carer for disabled people and a mum, and she completely gets it. If any situation arose where human shit ended up in someone hair, we would have it sorted. She doesn’t think it’s strange to work in a job where you’re looking after people, whereas others think I’m mad for wanting to clean up spitty banana for a living. I do understand it, in a way. I’m quite terrified of getting married, and when I hear about mates’ weddings I think ooo, no ta. In the past I’ve really judged people for getting married young. But I’m sure that’s just because I’m scared of it; I don’t understand it because I’ve never been with someone and come anywhere close to getting engaged, and I’m probably a bit jealous.
Maybe it’s because little girls get told they can do whatever they want these days- and rightly so. But why is being a mum or working with children any less valuable than being a lawyer? If it makes you happy, then who cares? Feeling maternal, especially when you’re young, has become deeply uncool somewhere along the line. In some ways being maternal feels like you’re being a bit of a traitor, like you’re letting the side down. Like we should fight it and bury it in a pile of gin and shoes, secretly googling ‘baby doing the single ladies dance’ on our lunch breaks. I personally can’t hide it, although I tend to tone down my madness until I’m with my close mates. When one of my best friends comes round we often spend hours talking about babies; how we want one, how we’re jealous of other people’s, how one kid looks like those potatoes that you grow cress hair out of and draw faces on with wonky felt-pen.
I’m personally not ready to have a baby yet, and my life will need a hell of a lot of sorting out before I can be in charge of a whole other person. But I wish, wish that I was ready. If the circumstances were right then I’d have no shame in becoming a mum at 25, even though I know tons of people would ask me, slack-jawed, ‘but…why?!’. Because of my old job, I’m aware of the downsides to being a parent; kids are cute, yes, but they are also boring. Newborns are tedious, and when they spend 4 hours crying because of colic you will want to throw them out of the window. Toddlers are incredibly annoying. They will spend an entire day chucking the same brick at your eye and then laughing about it. They will put toast in the DVD player, be sick up the walls, and scream every time you leave them so that you can go and have a wee. But when they smile at you for the first time or fall asleep on your chest, your head wants to explode from how amazing it is; and I’ve felt like that about other people’s kids, so I can’t imagine how incredible it is when you have your own.
When I caught myself cradling a bag of grapes in the queue for the self-service checkout at Sainsburys, I realised that I was going to have to do something about it. If I didn’t I’d become one of those women who wheels a lampshade around in a pram. And so I went to the RSPCA and I’ve got myself a dog. He’ll hopefully be coming home with me next week. He’s not house-trained, and he’s been so mistreated that his legs are disfigured. When I saw him I thought, yes, this is a little thing that I can take care of. He may look like a tiny drunk Glaswegian pensioner, but I’m going to love him and feed him and stick him in a little hat and post the pictures on facebook. Until someone will knock me up, a dog will do instead.