The life I didn’t live

I was recently at a hospital appointment, as moral support, with a friend and her very new born child. As she saw the consultant and I held her baby for her, and then again as we left the hospital and strangers spoke to us in the lift, I got the distinct impression that people assumed I was my friend’s partner, and co-parent of the baby.

It was a seriously odd feeling.

I’ve never had an urge to be a mother, but that briefest of glimpses into that other life made it seem suddenly appealing. To be clear, it wasn’t the thought of a romantic relationship with my friend (yikes!), or parenting that particular baby, but the thought that I could have been standing in that lift with my partner and her child and that really could be what our lives were about.

It’s hard to say what seemed appealing about it and to exactly describe the feeling. Not the crying or the nappy changing, both of which were happily minimised that day, and certainly not strangers making unsolicited comments about the baby. But perhaps, perhaps, the sense of family in such a strong sense. No longer a couple, but instead a family unit, bringing up a child and engaging in all those bits of society and logistics that I don’t touch at all really. Maternity classes. Nurseries. Mothercare. Angst about which schools they can get in to. Child ISAs. Making friends. Car seats. etc. etc.

And perhaps really that is about societal acceptance. Sure, a lesbian couple with a kid is likely to get some grief, but so much less so than just a few years ago. Which in itself was an eye opener. The consultant didn’t ask our relationship, and the cooing women in the lift were not that pushy, but for it to even be a possibility truly accepted in such a situation seemed incredible to someone who can clearly remember the days before Civil Partnerships. And in some ways, a baby provides a legitimacy and a status in society that is undeniable.

Or perhaps it was less societal acceptance and more the idea of having a child and bringing him or her up to be a great member of society and happy, productive person? That would be a great thing to do, and is the only reason I’ve ever considered having kids. Indeed, that desire to help kids become great is one of the reasons I teach taekwondo and Code Club.

Of course, it was a brief and unsustained experience. I came home from my brief foray into another life and didn’t mind for a moment the lack of child in my home. I mentioned it to my partner, then sat back with a cup of tea and enjoyed the peace and quiet.