Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Portrait of a Becky as a Young Mother

Last night coming home on the train, a mother stuck her kid next to me while she sat on the other side of the seat. It was a very unspoken stranger-please-take-my-kid-while-I-sleep-for-four-minutes moment. I'd peg this kid at 8 or 9. He had a video game with him which he played while he slowly shifted his weight onto me, leaning back into me like I was his recliner. I did not reciprocate this accidental affection, obviously. That would be super weird and creepy. In fact, I was worried that the mother was going to look over and assume that I was like, Pied-Piper-ing her son into a dreamlike state or something, so I tried to prop him up again without making him feel self-conscious for leaning so far into a stranger's lap in the first place. I failed. It was clear that the mother didn't care. So I just let this little boy deepen his snuggles with my left side.

A friendly guy that got on the train a few stops after me gave me a "your kid's cute" look. Now I was actively getting credit for being this kid's caretaker. The guy got off at Bedford-Nostrand with me, after I had propped the kid back up on his seat (the kid looked at me with a little confusion at first, but then just kept playing his game), and he approached me and said, "I thought that was your son!" I wanted to say something like "It was; I am finally rid of him," but instead I told him how I felt like I had gone halfway through the stages of adoption in that train ride.

I used to babysit a super-cool girl who actually kind of looked like me, and most people presumed that I was her mother. Being that cool girl's mom or being this train boy's mom would mean I would have had the kid in high school. It makes me so weirded out to be viewed as a teen mom now in in her mid-twenties, hanging around New York with her kid. It could not be farther away from what my life is - if they knew how poorly I take care of myself, they'd understand that child services would've taken any kid of mine long ago - but hey, if there's a kid there acting like you're their mom, that's what the world thinks you are. I can't blame the world for judging books by their covers. I own several books for the same reason.

I am not someone who dislikes kids or is ambivalent about having them one day: I want them. I wish I didn't, but I really, really do. Seriously, you fall in love with a person so hard that you think, "actually yeah, I could be with you forever," and then you get to make a new PERSON with them by expressing your love for them physically? WHAT? That's amazing! That's some kind of dreamland fantasy scenario, and I definitely don't want to miss out on it.

But yeah, nobody wants a kid at 25. Well, not true. I don't, and nobody I know personally does. So in these temporary moments where the universe shows me what an alternate reality version of myself as a young mother would look like, I become eternally grateful that I was so unattractive as a teenager, and that my high school boyfriend was Christian enough to insist that premarital sex was a sin. I didn't like it at the time, but I like it every time I skip over "dependents" on a tax form.

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