Before my son was born, I wouldn’t have described myself as a baby person.
It’s not that I disliked babies; on the contrary, I thought they were great! But I wasn’t totally comfortable with babies or small children. Or really larger children, for that matter. I didn’t know the best way to hold them or interact with them. Especially in front of their parents. In the presence of baby-people, I felt like my ineptitude was on display.
Even today I still wouldn’t describe myself as a baby person. I’m definitely an Isaac person, that’s for sure. I know my son inside and out, and I’m a little bit obsessed with him too. But when it comes to other people’s children, I still feel a tinge of awkwardness.
I think I might be missing the babysitter gene that most other women seem to have. You know the one I’m talking about, right? Some women are naturally maternal and adore snuggling babies, any babies at all. But I never felt that way. Maybe that aspect of myself will change after a few more years of experience with more children, but for now, there is mostly awkwardness.
Prior to having Isaac, my baby bumbling made it difficult to interact with couples who had children. It’s not that I avoided them or that they avoided me, but the presence of their children was a minor social barrier. The barrier was almost entirely in my mind, but it produced in me an insecurity around parents and their children. I didn’t know what it was like to have kids, so I felt like I had nothing to offer or say. I felt clumsy and out of place.
Now that I have “crossed over” to the baby side, I’ve been thinking about those social interactions. I began to wonder if my friends without kids ever feel uncomfortable when Isaac is around. Some of my friends are “baby people” and are totally at ease with him, but I imagine not all of them are. Do they feel the same pressure to know their way around a baby, even though the life stage is foreign to them?
Probably, which is why I am writing this today. If you have ever been in a social setting that felt slightly inaccessible–maybe a single person hanging out with married people; or a parent of small children hanging out with a parent of teens–I want you to know that it’s ok.
It’s ok that you’re at a different place in life, or that you have different interests. Your worthiness as a wife or mother or women is not on trial. We all have different paths, different interests, and different gifts. God has you right where He wants you, and you only need to be who God created you to be.
Churches bring people together who are very different, which means that social awkwardness is likely to occur at one point or another. But we belong to a Body of Christ that is fundamentally diverse yet interconnected. Every person has her own part in the community, and each one of us needs one another. As 1 Corinthians 12 explains, we are not a uniform group of cookie cutter look-alikes. Each of us is uniquely designed by God to serve a specific purpose that is no greater or lesser than any other person.
That’s why I don’t mind if you don’t want to hold my kid. Babies may not be your thing, and that’s ok. You may be at a different stage in life, or perhaps your interests lie elsewhere. Just because you’re a woman does not mean you have to love my child instantly. I hope you will love him as a fellow human being made in the image of God, but if you’re not a kid person then focus on cultivating the interests and gifts you do have.
If you are to fulfill your unique role in the Body of Christ, then you don’t just owe it to yourself to discern your talents and call. You also owe it to me, your fellow, interdependent sister in Christ. Don’t worry about holding my baby or making yourself into some version of the perfect Christian woman. Find out who God created you to be, and be that person excellently.
Seriously, I think we might be long-lost sisters when I read what you are writing. =) This was totally me. Not a baby person, rarely a babysitter–and yes, I always felt somehow “less-than-feminine” because of it. Thanks for your good reminder that God created us all in a unique way, and that just because we were made this way doesn’t mean we are destined not to be good mothers if given the opportunity!
You don’t have the baby sitter gene? I think I do. I volunteered in the nursery co-op in the law school before I ever met my wife, and liked to be around little ones at church too. In fact, one of the first times my wife saw me around church was when I was holding someone’s child. She later told me that she turned to a friend at that point and said, “Is there anything more attractive than a man holding a baby?” Just shows that she and I must have been made for each other!
Haha Helen! Glad I’m not alone! And Tim, that’s such a sweet story! Good for you and your babysitter gene. Work it! 🙂
I appreciate this post! Our son was adopted so I went through a lot of training about intentional bonding and not having him passed around as a baby. Now it makes it really difficult for me to want to hold other kids because I have all of this attachment training in my head! A relative at Thanksgiving this year was a bit offended that I didn’t ask to hold her new baby, but honesty I never would have thought to ask because I didn’t want my son passed around!
I’m not a baby person either and I don’t really feel bad about it. Haha. I am an expert in my own son and I’m slightly obsessed with him (and my daughter to be born soon!) but beyond them I think babies and kids are just, meh. Lol. Good post!
Ha! I can relate, although now I serve in the infant room on Sundays…so one never knows what will develop. I appreciate the reminder to embrace our differences in the Body of Christ. Sometimes the awkwardness causes us to pull away rather than move closer together, unfortunately.
Hi Sharon — I stumbled onto your blog through Her.meneutics recently and am really enjoying it! This post is so relevant to my own life. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said that to peopele. the really awkward moment for me comes when other moms assume I want to hold their babies, or when the other workers in the nursery give me all the babies because I’m “experienced”. i love slightly older children (I was excited when my daughter’s “terrible twos” started at 18 mo, because it means she can finally communicate with me!) but I’ve never been a baby person and I’m still uncomfortable with most infants other than mine. But people just assume I’m now obsessed with infants and will jump at the chance to hold another one. And then they look at me like there’s something wrong with me if i ever get up enough courage to explain things. I popped one out so OBVIOUSLY I must now be a magical baby whisperer. Simple logic. Grr. Even just writing about it now makes me feel like an unwomanly grouch. Anyway, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂