The Baby Daddy

Somewhere between being asleep and awake, I laid in bed wrapped up in sheets with tired eyes, listening to the sounds outside the window. In the distance, a taxi driver became impatient, two women shared a laugh, an oversized truck continued down the street, and a dog expressed concern. Tossing about and wrestling with my pillow, I tried to decide if I really wanted to nap in the afternoon or if I should get up and prepare for my night out. The cotton sheets were freshly pressed and felt so smooth against my skin, tempting me to rest for just a while longer – if only to be more enthusiastic for the hours ahead of me.

I threw my leg over a pillow the same way I would a man and shut my eyes, hoping the noises below would subside long enough for some shut-eye. All was quiet and still except for the sound of the air conditioner running and the pipes busily working away. Just as I was about to drift away, I heard something that almost always makes me beam:

Children’s laughter.

It was simple and subtle, happily filling the sidewalk and bouncing off the buildings to echo up to the apartment. Drowsily, I peeked out the blinds, attempting to shield my eyes from the sudden sunlight. Right outside was a blond-haired-blue-eyed family of  five with two little girls and an older boy. They looked like they lived in New York, dressed in preppy clothes and looking comfortable int he mayhem – a trait that only comes with living in a city. They happily  played with one another and giggled away, their parents keeping a look out for them while talking. This clan was just about picture-perfect as it could be and I smiled at their beauty.

In watching them, I was reminded of some advice an older woman once gave me when I asked her for relationship advice. We were standing outside a cute cafe in the Flat Iron district, saying out goodbyes after a Cobb-Salad-and-Diet-Coke lunch. After a brief hug, she said, “When you’re dating someone, stop imagining yourself getting married to them. See if you can imagine them as the father of your kids.”

She isn’t the only one to give me such wisdom, my friend K said something along those same lines when comparing two men she dated. She said that while she would think about marriage with one, her feelings were so much stronger and felt so much more real with the guy she could see as a dad. At the times they both challenged me to think that way, I wasn’t interested in what they had to say. It sounded sweet, sure, but if I could imagine the nuptials, wouldn’t I naturally see nurseries, too?

Not really – there’s a big difference between seeing someone as the husband and seeing someone as the baby daddy.

I rolled over in bed and stared up at the ceiling, noticing cobwebs I needed to knock down and though I’m nowhere near marriage or babies, I tried to picture myself with a family. Could I see the strollers and the bottles? Can I see someone kissing my belly, anticipating the arrival of our child? Could I see little pigtails and tiny trucks? Onesies and picking out baby names?

Have I ever dated someone who proved to me he could be that supportive, that kind-hearted, that responsible, that dependable, that loving – to be a dad? It was simple, when I really entertained the idea – I had never been in a relationship like that. I had never really met someone or dated someone who I could see that with.

But maybe that’s the point anyway – it’s very rare to come across someone like that. True Baby Daddies who want to be fathers, who would be the type of guy who not only plays catch and plays dress up, but is financially and emotionally stable enough to stand by his family and provide for them – are few-and-far-between.  And when looking for a match, you can’t just focus on how romantic or dreamy they may be, but if they are the type of man who you could see wishing your children sweet dreams as they go to bed.

Who doesn’t just call you baby – but will make a great daddy to your babies.

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Baby Don’t Want No Baby

A few years ago, while walking through Soho, I stumbled across a boutique baby store. I don’t recall the name, but the décor included whimsical trees, googly-eyed giraffes and elephants, and against my friend’s pleas, I demanded we go inside. Like the true kid-at-heart I am, I browsed through the clothes, considered buying a super-soft stuffed animal for myself, and sighed thinking, “I really do want a baby one day.”

Before leaving, I spotted a pair of ridiculously adorable pink socks with a tiny, sophisticated bow at the top. At $16 a pop, I actually bought one and vowed that one day, when I became a mother, I’d put them over my baby’s little toes. Let’s hope I do have a daughter when that time comes or my son will just have to be alright with pretty-in-pink feet.

These socks are tucked away in a space underneath my bed, along with clippings of dream vacation homes overseas, maps of places I’d like to visit, and ticket stubs from old dates, travels, and pieces of fabric I’d love to make a trendy dress out of (If I knew how to sew, that is). Those socks are the only thing, out of the dozens of wishes and dreams inside of that wooden antique box that represents children.

As much as I do hope that I have some baby Tigar cubs of my own, the idea of actually raising a child royally, totally, and whole-heartedly freaks me the hell out. I’m one of those women who texts her friends: “Okay, so he didn’t technically finish inside of me. We used something, I’m on something. But my monthly visitor is about three hours late, should I get a test? I mean it can’t hurt, right? RIGHT?!” I’ve also probably opted for plan B even when plan A probably worked efficiently. I even may have Googled if there was such a thing as Plan C. (There’s not, if you’re wondering)

But why should I not be careful? Pregnancy and babies are terrifying.

I mean, my lady part has to stretch to a size that’s not natural (no matter how part of nature it is), I have to give up the things that give me tremendous joy (coffee, wine, looking sexy in lingerie, running, to name a few), and after nine months of increasingly getting rounder, I have a miniature creature who will suck on my gals. And that’s only the beginning – once I’m a mother, there is no going back or 30-day refund policy. As far as I know, anyways.

Last week on my way to my bi-monthly mentoring program for children who want to be authors, I caught an elevator with a few parents. Though it isn’t the usual etiquette, one of the fathers asked when I pushed the button for the sixth floor, “Are you going to pick up your child in the program?”

With a fear-stricken death stare I looked directly at him and defended myself: “Oh God no! I’m volunteering. I don’t have children. I’m too young for that!” Obviously not realizing the chord he struck with me, he mumbled an apology and turned to face the doors. As I pulled myself together walking to meet my mentee, it occurred to me I was actually wrong.

I’m not too young to be a mom. Technically speaking.

I’m the only one of my cousins who doesn’t have at least one child – and they are all under the age of 35. I have friends who are damned-and-determined to have their legacy completed and their tubes tied before they blow out the candles on their 30th birthday cake. And ladies much younger than me, say 16, are apparently buzzworthy in the eyes of pop culture for doing nothing other than growing a bump.

As cute as they are and as much as I’m sure I’ll love my own one day, I’m lacking the baby-obsessed gene. Or maybe, it hasn’t fully developed quite yet.

Being a parent, much like being a girlfriend or a wife, means you have to stop making decisions based solely on yourself. While we can provide examples illustrating how men are really just grown-up babies who still want to be pampered, mothered, and coddled – a child is even more responsibility. Not to mention a commitment you can’t divorce, annul or walk away from.

When this man, unknowingly mistaken me as a mom, it caught me off guard (and sweat a little) because the possibility of being a parent had never occurred to me. Sure, I’ve had some scares and from the book my mother gave me, I know I’m capable of producing offspring. But, for someone to see me and for it not to be out-of-the-question for me to have a elementary school-aged child, blew my mind. What would my life look like if that were the case?

A baby requires more than your love, your attention, your dedication to maintaining and creating a relationship – it needs to be provided for and protected. How can I expect to be mature enough, secure enough, and uncomplicated enough to keep something else alive, when most of the time, I’m not sure I take care of myself in the best ways?

I may be far from being a child and far from 40, but this baby don’t want no baby.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

The Writing on the Wall

Somewhere in this big, beautiful city, is a man. I have no idea what he looks like, what he does, where he’s from, where he lives now, or what his name is. But, as my mother, fate, and storybooks say: when I meet him, there will be this moment when I just know.

In a place where I pass strangers so often that if I walked by them more than once, I’d never know – it can be difficult (or rather impossible) to believe there is this one person who I’m destined to spend my life with. As far as I know, I could have walked by him every morning for the last eight months or been in the same train with him, just different cars. He could be two floors above my office or not even living in NYC right now (although my gut says he is).

Even though I love my life exactly how it is currently and I really don’t feel that intense urge to have a boyfriend as I used to – of course, one day, I hope to feel that magical intensity with the man I’ll call my husband. And there are days when I feel that fear in the pit of my stomach and the deepest corners of my heart that screams: “What if he’s not out there?

This idea of everlasting love and until-death-do-we-part and happily-ever-after is heavy. It weighs down on you with pressure and anxiety and gut-wretching worry that if I don’t find that, if I don’t find him, if I don’t get married and don’t have kids – what will become of my life? Will I still be able to find happiness? Could I (and would I want to) be able to feel this peaceful feeling as a single gal, forever? (Take a deep breath).

Ladies Night is every Thursday at a bar that I frequent and all the girls get $2 margaritas and drafts, along with half-priced appetizers. This place offers frickles (fried pickles) and that’s more than enough of a reason to go back more than once for me. With a bladder about as big as a dime, I’m always the girl who has to get up and go to the bathroom several times in a short period (and yes, I’m fine going alone).

On my second trip to the bathroom, I noticed rather large writing to my left. At first, I just read “I love Adam Forever” and didn’t think anything of it. But as I stood up, I saw in a smaller writing: “He’s NOT the One, but he’s out there. Believe. I’m trying to.”

For the rest of the night, I thought about how powerful that single phrase is. And how much it represents what I feel the majority of the time. I see a guy or go on a date and I know the chemistry isn’t there and I have to remind myself, “Its okay, Linds. This isn’t the guy, but he’s out there. Keep your hope up! Love yourself!” And finding that special peace, that serenity as a single girl is not easy. You dress yourself up, put on your favorite heels, maybe buy some new earrings, and shave away everything  – just to realize he’s just another Mr, not the Mr you thought he could be.

And god, it’s so frustrating.

Even though I feel like I’m at a happy place and pace with this journey, it is so normal to get disappointed. Part of what keeps me going is this blog (thank all of you!), my friends, and this idea that I have a bigger purpose with my writing and in doing this. In some cosmic way, I have this notion that I’m destined to be single. At least for right now and probably, not forever. I look at it like this: I literally will spend the majority of my life married (most likely), and although keeping the faith high is a constant battle, single is what I need right now.

Learning to depend on myself and more importantly, to believe in something bigger than me, and taking off all of this pressure and worries – allows me the ability to really figure out who I am. To see the writing on the wall, to face myself in the mirror, and to stand tall, even when I want to burst into tears on a second date because it’s so awful. To go out on Ladies Night and be focused on my girls, instead of the slew of men so into a hockey game that they refuse to turn around, even once.

So even though the man I will marry (and yes, I believe he exists) is somewhere on this planet, living, breathing, doing his own single (or not) thing, and even though I may have walked past him, shook his hand, or caught a glimpse of him – I know I’m not ready to fall for him. Not yet, not today.

And for those moments when I feel like I can’t accept being single or I’m lonely or feel ugly and not-sexy, when I can’t find that self-love, when I can’t see how much I truly have going for me – I’ve got this space, my amazing pals– and strangers, who write on bathroom walls, to remind me that no matter what, I’m never, ever alone.

 

What Comes Before Love?

With city temperatures dropping, gloves and scarves coming out of hibernation, and iced coffee being exchanged for hot – I can’t help but think of change.

Fall is my favorite season because of the possibility it brings to the atmosphere, but winter brings this idea of transition. Wardrobe, food, transportation, and mentalities (winter blues, anyone?) makes a complete transformation between the sweltering days to the freezing ones. We’re literally forced to change.

At times, life is like that too. We reach a point where making a change is absolutely necessary: when the job sucks so bad we can’t stand to go to it, when that five pounds has turned into twenty, when drinking has become a must-have instead of a treat.

Recently, I interviewed a couple who own a maternity line for urban moms-to-be for the magazine. With an upcoming reality show debuting at the start of the year and a baby on the way – this duo was on fire. During the interview, it was evident how easily they worked together in and out of the business, and how passionate they were for the pregnant-new-parent industry (if you can call it that?).

Although I asked her a million questions that she gave great responses to – there was one thing she said that really stuck out in my head and caused me to jot down notes for this blog on the train back to my office. As we were discussing reaching her target market, she said: “It works really well that we’re creating a family right now as I’m growing this business. You really can’t even begin to understand what being pregnant is like unless you’re actually going through it, feeling what you’re body is going through, and freaking out.”

In my head, I thought, “That’s true. You also can’t grasp what being a single girl is like unless you are on.” And then, as I listened to her and watched her interact with me and with her husband, it occurred to me that she hasn’t always been this beautiful, successful, married, and glowing with-child woman. At one point, she was a single lady, just like me. It’s just that now, she’s in a different part of her life.

So does that mean being single is a stage? Is it a required transition? If first comes love, then comes marriage, then the baby in the baby carriage, what comes before love? Being single?

I’m not sure I like thinking of my life in stages, but in a way it makes sense. You can’t be a couple or a triple or foursome, if you’re not a single first –mathematically it doesn’t work. Right now I’m a 20-something gal climbing the ladder in her career and exploring the dating jungle that defines NYC. But in three years, I could be married? In ten, I could have a baby and a bump? How does life progress through these stages so quickly?

Are we ever not transitioning from one thing to another? And if we can’t completely depend on the stages in our lives that we hope to happen, will in fact progress, do we have faith? Instead, do we live in the here-and-now? Or do we do a combination of both?

If every stage is just a preparation for the next, are we ever really living in the segment of our lives we’re in? Or are we always anticipating the next step, the next decision, the next move? Once we’ve found that person, we rush to the alter. Once we’re at the alter, we rush to the nursery. Once we’re in the nursery, we rush to the playroom. Once we’re in the playroom, we’re looking at Harvard? Does it ever stop?

And do we lose what we’ve found in the steps before as we keep moving?

Being single gives us a mindset of independence, selfreliability, and confidence. I’m sure marriage gives you new perspectives and babies do even more – but I don’t think we should ever fully transition out of the single-lady values. Being “good on our own” isn’t something that should change when we move into the next step. I don’t think single is so much a stage as it is the foundation for the rest of our lives.

After all, it’s important to be able to depend on our own two feet before we play footsie with hubby or kiss the bottoms of our baby’s toes.

Baby on the B Train

Yesterday morning, I was completely hung-over on my way to work (hey, we had our Small Business Awards, I was allowed to be) and generally, not in a great mood. I didn’t get any sleep, the buckle on my red coat broke, my head hurt, and I was convinced my ass was looking a little wide in my new black sweater dress –isn’t that supposed to be a slimming color?

I always grab a paper on the way into the subway to read on my ride and as I was turning to page two, I heard the cutest laugh known to man. I looked up and saw a little girl (whom I later learned is named Olivia) bouncing in her stroller as her mother and father smiled down at her.

She looked over to me and giggled and waved, and of course, like any other woman, I waved and giggled back. I was admiring how insanely adorable she was –when suddenly, she looked at her mom and just burst into tears. And then she was screaming and attempting to get out of her stroller. The whole train was watching and her little face turned bright, bright red.

I instantly felt awful for her and felt the need to scoop her up, hold her close, and tell her that everything is going to be alright. Which is exactly what her mom did in one swift movement. Within a matter of seconds, Olivia was back to her beautiful, cooing-self, and was again baby-flirting at me.

For the rest of my train ride, Olivia and I waved and smiled and played peek-a-boo, along with other straphangers sitting near me. She watched me with her big brown eyes as she left the train, and once she was gone, it occurred to me how little we change from the time we’re babies until we’re adults.

I mean, every once in a while, don’t we all feel like bursting into tears in the middle of the subway (or anywhere, really) for no apparent reason, just because we want to?

And when we get ridiculously upset because it feels necessary at the time, don’t we want to get up from where we are, bury ourselves into someone (preferably handsome, tall, and strong) who will tell us that, “Baby, it’ll be okay. I love you.”

Isn’t that kind of why being a single gal is hard?

Say, hypothetically, I did burst into tears while riding from the Upper Upper West Side (Alright, Harlem, fine.) to Chelsea. And before I decided to let the floodgates open, I was just sittin’, smilin’, and gigglin’ at some cute stranger. What would happen?

I’d be considered crazy and someone, probably an older woman of sorts, would come and pat my back and tell me to calm down, that it’s alright, and ask me if I needed help. Someone might even throw some change at my boots.

But somehow, that kind of comfort doesn’t seem liberating. It doesn’t relieve the sadness or stop the tears –it just provides attention. What we really want is just to be held by someone we know loves us.

Part of being single is learning how to comfort yourself. It’s about learning how to stay strong, stay grounded, and have coping mechanisms that don’t involve a love interest. Sure, my friends receive ridiculous text messages randomly at all times of the day or night –but in general, I handle most of my emotions on my own.

What I want to be able to do is surrender all of those feelings: the wanting to cry, the feeling awful, feeling ugly, feeling disheartened, feeling discouraged, and feeling like my days of being a single will last forever. That I will never get my version of a darling little Olivia.

I hope my higher power can just take all of it away. Please, just take it away. Make it not as heavy on my heart and free me.

I can’t burst into tears on the middle of the B train. Just not a great idea.