Why do I want children so much? How can I answer that? Does anyone have the answer, I wonder? I just DO; always have. Always longed for the day when I would have a family of my own.
One day when I was about seven my parents saved up and brought me a beautiful Pram for my birthday, a proper big one, for my dolls. I have to say that I was at the time more of a ‘horse and fluffy animal’ cuddling child than a ‘dolly’ child, but I did have a real favourite doll who was baby-sized and who could cry.
I loved that pram and ‘Jane’ went in it straight away, wrapped up in her frilly bonnet, dress and outdoor coat. I tucked the covers around her, fastened the waterproof pram cover onto the outside of the pram and folded down the top. It had a brake, too, so that I could stop pushing it and put the brake on. I thought that the hood was wonderful – it had big springy clips so that I could fold it down so that Jane could bask in the sunshine or I would put it up when I was pretending that it was raining. I never took it out in the real rain, of course!
It had bright shiny chrome wheels coated with white rubber treads; two big wheels and two smaller ones, and the spokes flashed and gleamed in the sunlight as I trundled it along. One day, I was allowed to walk down our street, through a pathway between two houses, up another street and along the top road and back home, all by myself; very grown-up. I suspect that Dad was following discreetly quite closely behind, but I pretended not to notice…! Oh, how proud I was, pushing that pram. It felt so RIGHT, even at that age.
A slightly older boy approached me as I neared the top of the street after the pathway, almost home. He looked in the pram and said what a beautiful baby she was, and asked whether I was her Mummy, to which I replied Yes. Then he asked her name, and asked me to show him how did the hood and brake worked, etc, and I was proud to show a boy all that technical stuff. I think that it had been the first time in my life that I’d known something that somebody else hadn’t known already!
I went along with answering questions, as you do, and then he asked me what the baby ate. Well, I’d been brought up to be a very truthful child and all of a sudden had this awful feeling that he thought that Jane was real! And all this time I hadn’t corrected him! So I said, very hesitantly, that she wasn’t a REAL baby, just a doll. “I know that”, he said, “but we’re just pretending, aren’t we?” So, that was all right then, and he walked me home round the corner and we continued chatting about ‘the baby’.
I never saw him again and have no idea who he was, but somehow that little encounter has stayed with me ever since.
I wonder whether he is a Dad now? When he grew up and pushed his babies in their prams or pushchairs, I wonder whether he ever remembered my Jane and me, and if he wondered what became of us? He probably thinks that I have lots of children by now!
And I have never, in my whole life, pushed a pram with a real baby in it. Never known what it is like to wheel a real, chattering baby along under the trees that have red berries in autumn and beautiful pale green leaves in the spring. Never put the hood up to protect my baby from the rain or clipped a white parasol to the side to give him/her some shade from the sun. Never had anyone stop me to tell me how beautiful my baby is and ask what he/she eats!
Will that day ever come?
And yes, I still have Jane. How could I ever part with her?!