Woman Who Hates Children Learns a Lesson from Her Niece – Story of the Day
An unpleasant woman who hates children finds that her life becomes complicated when she has to look after her sister's baby for a month.
Janet Gordon disliked children. She was 42 and had successfully avoided contact with anyone under the age of 18 since her own childhood. If Janet disliked children, she particularly hated babies.
She couldn't understand how anyone could find the little creatures appealing. Janet had once been very much in love, on the verge of marriage, but it had all fallen apart when she told him 'no children, ever.'
Not that she had any regrets. Janet was an extremely successful publisher, traveled extensively, bought whatever she fancied, and had a rich social life. She had no idea it was all about to fall apart...
It all started on a Friday afternoon with a frantic call from her sister, Moira. Ten years younger than Janet, Moira was a pretty, warm-natured woman who devoted herself to making pottery and trying to revive the hippy culture, love beads and all.
"Jan..." Janet could hear that Moira was crying, "I need you..."
"Moira, what's wrong?" It was just like Moira, Janet thought resentfully. She hadn't heard from her for a year, now this!"
"Jan, it's Michael. He's been in an accident, in Paris. It's bad..."
Janet was shocked. She rather liked her gentle, bright brother-in-law. "Oh no! Is he going to be alright?"
Moira sobbed. "They don't know. He's in a coma. A bad head injury. I have to go to him, Janet, I just have to!"
"Well of course you do! DO you need money, Moira? Anything you need, you know you can count on me!"
"Oh Janet, thank you! I love you! Thank you! I'll drop off patience tonight!" and with that Moira hung up.
Patience? Janet was about to call back and ask who or what Patience was then remembered that her sister had a huge marmalade cat. Of course. The cat... Well, she could handle a cat. They didn't demand affection and pooped in a box. No-fuss. A cat was OK.
It was seven o'clock when the doorbell rang in Janet's elegant apartment. She opened the door, and there stood Moira, hung about with all kinds of bags and a bundle in her arms. Moira pushed past Janet.
She headed straight for the sitting room and dumped the bags on her white leather sofa. Moira turned with the bundle in her arms and said: "Patience, meet your aunt Janet!"
It was a baby! Patience was a baby, and thank God, she was fast asleep. "Janet, thank you so much. You are the only person I'd trust her to..."
"But Moira...I h -- I know nothing about babies..."
"That's not true! You took care of me! You were more a mom to me than mother ever was." Janet sighed. Their glamorous socialite mother had spent as little time as possible with her daughters.
"Look, honestly," she said, "I don't think I'm the right person..."
Janet knew that there was a special place in her heart for her first love.
"Jan, you are the only person. I don't have anyone else. Please. I have to go to Michael..." Moira was crying, and Janet couldn't handle tears.
"Ok, what about feeding her..."
"There's two cans of formula, baby bottles, everything. 6 oz at each feeding, every four hours. She sleeps all night, now."
"Every four hours?"
"Yes...There's a giraffe she loves in the diaper bag...Oh, and she doesn't like pacifiers." Moira thrust the bundle into her arms. "I have to go, the taxi's waiting."
Moira pressed a tender kiss onto the baby's forehead, and a hasty one onto Janet's cheek and was gone. She slammed the front door behind her, and the baby started awake.
She opened her eyes wide and stared at Janet. At that moment it was hard to decide which of the two was more horrified. Patience dealt with adversity in the only way she knew how: she opened her mouth and started screaming.
Janet held her at arm's length. What now? Diapers and feedings she could deal with, but this... Moira had been a quiet baby, always smiling, but her daughter was extremely vocal.
The level of Patience's distress rose by several decibels, and tears gushed out of her eyes. "There! There!" gasped Janet, as she jiggled Patience awkwardly at arm's length. Then she remembered cradling Moira.
She brought the baby closer and tried to cuddle her. Patience wriggled and waved her tiny fists. Her face was now an alarming shade of purple-red. Janet started to croon.
Patience paused to listen, staring up at Janet. Then she stuffed her hands into her mouth, drooled, and frowned at Janet's unfamiliar face singing a familiar song.
"There," crooned Janet, "There...I used to sing this to your mother...Yes, I did..." Patience stopped eating her hands and gave Janet a sweet gummy smile. And that was the moment Janet fell in love, desperately, completely.
Patience slept in her bed that night, surrounded by pillows, and the next morning Janet called her office, put her assistant and in charge, and took her niece shopping.
She bought a bed, a pram, toys, a car seat, and bags full of clothes, diapers, and anything that caught her attention or Patience's at the expensive baby shop she visited.
To her surprise, Janet quickly fell into a routine. Patience woke up, wanted a diaper change, drank her milk, played, and fell asleep. Then she woke up again and demanded more milk and attention.
Patience was a tyrant, and Janet loved it. In the afternoons she took to Patience out to the park. At first, she had ignored the other women with their prams, but before long she was greeting them by name and exchange baby stories with them.
Moira called every night. Michael, she said, was still in a coma, but the doctors were more hopeful. Was Patience alright, was Janet coping? To her queries, Janet replied nonchalantly: "Us girls are just fine! It's slumber parties every night!"
Janet worked from home, and her assistant handle any problem she couldn't deal with on the phone or through email. There was no way she was handing Patience over to a nanny!
"She's just too sensitive!" Janet said to her assistant who stared in astonishment as Patience twisted her face into a ferocious frown and strangled her giraffe. "I can't let just anyone look after her!"
One rainy afternoon, Janet took Patience to the mall and the two were window shopping when a familiar voice intruded. "Janet? Is that you?"
Heart thumping, Janet turned to see the Harry, the man she'd loved so desperately. "Harry..." she stumbled into silence and clutched at the pram tightly. Harry went down on one knee and peeked into the pram.
"And who is this?" he asked.
"This is Patience...my niece."
Harry looked relieved. "You...You're not married?" he asked.
"No," Janet shook her head. "And you?"
Harry smiled. "No. There was someone, I thought...Well, I couldn't go through with it, Janet." he paused, then said quietly, "She wasn't you."
At that moment Patience decided it was time they paid attention to her and started hectoring Janet, kicking her feet and waving her hands imperiously in the air. Janet laughed. "Miss Impatience here wants her milk!"
"You..." Harry was watching in astonishment as Janet picked up the baby and cuddled her tenderly, "You're a natural,"
Janet laughed. "No! It's Patience, really! She's just...Amazing."
They parted with dinner plans and an unspoken promise. Janet was overwhelmed with joy. She was dancing Patience around the room when the phone rang. "Janet!" Moira's voice said joyfully, "Michael is awake, he's awake! Doctor's say maybe in a week he can come home..."
"Oh..." Janet felt her heart sink. "In a week?"
"Yes...You can go back to your life! I'm so grateful..." Moira babbled on but Janet wasn't listening. No more late-night feeds, or waking up at 6 am to fix a bottle and change a diaper. Janet started crying.
"Moira, I need to stay in her life, please say you'll let me..." she cried.
"Jan...Yes, of course...Always! You're her auntie..."
And Janet did stay in Patience's life and six months later she married Harry and welcomed her own baby. But as much as she loved her baby boy, Janet knew that there was a special place in her heart for her first love: Patience.
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Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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