Oh, Baby!—by Jamie Levine
My daughter, Jayda, loves babies—whether they’re the fake plastic ones, or real ones. When Jayda spends time with one of her five-year-old friends who has a younger sister or brother, she often spends most of the play date doting on the baby sibling. At home, Jayda has an arsenal of plastic babies, as well as a double stroller, a single stroller, and two baby carriers in which to cart her babies around with her. The other day, Jayda marched up to me, pushing two babies in a stroller and wearing one close to her chest and introduced them; the two in the stroller, she explained, had come “out of her belly,” and the other one was “adopted.” When I seemed surprised by her revelation, she explained, “the adopted baby needed me because her mommy couldn’t take care of her.” My heart swelled with pride.
Jayda doesn’t have any adopted friends—but her own unique beginning (and my openness about her background, and the fact that I “wanted a baby like Jayda so badly that I went to a doctor who helped me have her”) has made Jayda aware and accepting of the notion that kids come from all different places and have all different kinds of families. When strangers ask Jayda about her father, she matter-of-factly explains, “I don’t have a father, but I have a mommy and a grandma and a poppy, and a cousin, and two cats…and that’s my family.” And she clearly understands that children who are adopted are no different than any other kids—except that sometimes they need a little extra love.
My daughter is an incredibly happy child—even strangers often remark that she appears to be so good natured, and always seems to have a smile on her face. And that’s the greatest testament to successful parenting—especially to a single mother such as myself. If Jayda is thriving, I must be doing something right. My daughter may not have a father—but she is surrounded by people who love her—and while my own life is teeming with stress, I do my best to keep Jayda safe and happy, and worry-free.
The other morning, Jayda was playing with her babies and abruptly stopped and ran over to me. My father was in the room, so Jayda whispered in my ear: “Mommy—can I talk to you about something private?” I pulled her close, and responded, “Of course, Jayda—what is it?” She quietly continued, “When I grow up and I have a real baby of my own, will you show me how to take care of her?” Jayda’s sweet, innocent request meant the world to me, because I could only believe her asking me for help meant she thought I was a really good mother. And coming from my kid, that’s the best compliment in the world.