What Would Scary Spice Do?
I hate the way babies make me feel. I hate the way babies make many women my age feel. Like our bodies are smooth soft warm incubators and we are ignoring our primary task in exchange for things like gin and St. Germaine cocktails, walk up apartments, polyamorous relationships and open relationships with Mac & Cheese.
I’ve had this conversation multiple times with friends. Its about the moment you scroll through Facebook and realize that that girl you sometimes waved to in high school is now pregnant with her second child, got a haircut that resembles the Rachel, and is going to a concert that she might see your parents at. It makes you pause in the middle of updating your status about your master’s thesis and think, which one of us is more ridiculous? But to you, grad school seems like more of a given than diapers ever will. Your professor’s breath, rank though it may be, will always smell better than a diaper. Your case of beer, empty much faster than you planned, is always easier to recycle than a diaper. Really everything about your life, except for that person you’re kind of seeing, is better than a diaper. If you’re pregnant you won’t be able to try that whiskey flight you’ve been meaning to get to. Or, even though you’d save so much money not smoking, you’d be not smoking. This is basic logic. It takes about a minute to run through your head and by then you’re way past that Facebook post. You’re on to an article about Rhianna’s eyelashes (they’re real in my heart).
But then I see a baby. Yes, I switched back to I. You’re the silly one on Facebook. I’m the one outside talking to real people. I see it’s little feet and fat, fat head, its tiny hands that are always clutched tight. Its mouth pursed in sleep or agape waiting for a tit. And its all I can do to not follow its mother down the street, glancing over the rim of the stroller or into the folds of a swaddling cloth (because mommy spends more money on Birkenstock than she does on contraception). And I wonder for a second about being 35 one day, popping my legs up in the air and stuffing myself full of the nearest sperm donor sample. In ten years time will that be the best of plans? An image of myself, suddenly not being able to see my feet because my innards are stuffed full with a whole other being fills my head. And for a second that doesn’t seem that bad.
Suddenly 50 year old actresses are adopting children or second facelifts. Beautiful 20 somethings are considering surrogacy to pay their way through those masters theses. It seems like a strange new plot twist when a generation imagines having someone else’s baby long before they plan to have their own. I’ll save you another google search on that computer you love so much and let you that One downside of surrogacy is: agencies want you to have had at least one of your own kids before they pop someone else’s in there. That means that girl on Facebook you were stalking is ridiculously more qualified than you are for a very high paying job. How good does that graduate degree look now? You could literally make more money by being pregnant over and over and over…
But that reality also includes the possibility of being on the other side of that scheme- of being a 50 year old and having some 20 year old to all the pregnancy grunt work. Of using your 20s and 30s to make the inordinate amount of money it cost to pay for a surrogate. Or buy a baby illegally from Korea. Essentially, if Madonna can can adopt two African children at 56, than so can I. In 33 years.
I have a friend who, when we were the ripe ol’ age of 21, had already looked up Indian adoption policies. She said there was no type of baby she wanted to steal more from a mother walking down the street than a little Indian baby. That friend was always one to plan far into the future, but it reminded me of how people say little girls plan their weddings as children, holding up their barbies and sitting in their tutus. My favorite barbie as a child was my Scary Spice doll, which had true to life tattoos on her lower abdomen. Thinking now of those perfect little scribbles enlarged by a full stomach and covered in stretch marks seems almost sacrilegious, a defilement not only of Scary Spice but also to my younger Spice Girls worshiping self. Better to just adopt a little Indian baby. In ten years.
But Scary Spice, or rather Melanie B, now has three children. The first was born when she was 24, her body still resembling my thin limbed barbie. I wonder how many swaddled children she walked behind at 23, still an international superstar whose manager’s breath smelled better than diapers. How old do you have to be before your touring career or thesis seems less important than the idea of 2.5 children? Also, why is everyone with an ideal family size cutting their third child in half?
At my age these questions are relatively easy to ignore. My friends from undergrad are focusing on law school, on vaccinations for trips to Uganda to save archives, on moving to Ecuador for the Peace corps. A baby is not something you can take with you to the Peace corps. Still sometimes, across from plates of hummus at lunch, during a glass of wine at dinner, two of us will pause, mid sentence, to watch a glowing woman lean down to her baby, always with the tiny clutched hands. We will stare with wonder filling our eyes, one hand still mindlessly clutching a piece of pita bread or a wine glass. Neither of us will speak for a second, our minds readying a long list of reasons why our lives are so far away from that table across the restaurant. Why there is no place for us on that side. Yet another part of my brain, a tiny voice that still remembers the lyrics to “Wannabe”, whispers What would Melanie B do? She’s 40 now to my 24, so the answer has become clear. Have three children and not cut the third one in half.