Read an Excerpt
The Art of Wishing
Cupid is up to his old tricks again. Just when we think that we've got a handle on life, he strikes with his most mischievous arrow to date. Suddenly we turn mushy. We become prone to daydreaming. We sigh without knowing why. We get teary-eyed thinking about our childhoods. Some of us even begin to collect knickknacks that are small, round, pudgy, and smooth.
We should have known better, but somehow, in the heat of passion, we overlooked that all-important detail: Cupid, the symbol of erotic love, looks soft and cuddly-like a baby. Wasn't that warning enough? No-the angelic Valentine icon is a savvy trickster. But now it's too late. We are pregnant with a secret wish still too scary to name.
Usually, you find out that you are thinking about starting a family when you begin to notice a parallel universe of chubby and colorful products that used to be hidden from your sight. Bright and cheery, child paraphernalia does not become visible until you are ready to see it. Your first discovery of all those cute and squishy objects is startling indeed.
In supermarkets, busy career women who routinely fill their carts with French Roquefort cheese and extra-virgin olive oil are unexpectedly riveted by the sight of rows of tiny jars of pur�ed baby food.
Impulsively, blond beauties with perfect manicures and prestigious jobs in public relations insist on hosting elaborate baby showers for the pregnant brides of their wealthy clients.
All of a sudden, athletic husbands who drive off-road vehicles and go rafting on weekends secretly envy their male friends with infant car seats in the back of their four-door sedans.
By the time we interpret these early symptoms for what they are, there is no turning back. An innate biological mechanism has taken over. Our evolutionary heritage has activated in us the urge to care for and protect someone who is a lot smaller -- and a lot cuter -- than we are.
The study of the endearing physical appeal of babies and its importance in the developmental process is a well-documented science called neoteny. The "morphology of cute," as some people call it, is first and foremost characterized by large, saucer-sized eyes. But our neurocircuitry is also sensitive to round, bulging cheeks, a small jaw, relative hairlessness, a lack of pronounced sexual differences, an absence of teeth, and elasticity of body. Anthropologists believe that these neotenic features give helpless infants a critical advantage by making them look nonthreatening to overly aggressive adults.
And so yes, we are hardwired to be smitten by babies. We go cootchie-cootchie over teething infants and are besotted by round-eyed tots. Sexual attraction may fail to trick some couples into having children, but the presence of other people's offspring clutching teddy bears and stuffed baby elephants acts as a powerful incentive for them to become parents.
Once you have acknowledged that you are ready to have children, it could be years before you finally buy the adorable crib with its matching changing table. Truth be told, a child is often conceived mentally years before the little stick of a pregnancy test turns blue or pink. The real moment of his conception can be traced all the way back to the day you felt compelled to buy a rubber ducky for your bathtub or to that time you spent a fortune on a party dress for your newborn niece.
Copyright ©(2002) by Veronique Vienne.