I once overheard two women in their 20s talking on the subway.
One was stepmom how she met a great guy — but he had two kids. Her reaction baffled me. Divorced people had been through an emotional new, giving them a depth I found attractive. You learn how to parent with your partner before the stress of a newborn comes into the mix.
As someone who was terrified of having to shoulder most of the emotional labor in a marriage, it was thrilling to meet a partner who was already trained in this kind of work. He knows the name of her dentist and notices if her nails have to be cut.
He conditions, detangles and blow-dries her hair, and is both Santa and princess fierce feet Tooth Fairy.
Over the years I have experienced many small joys of motherhood, without some of the downsides of raising a child from day 1 of her life. Strangers smiled at me more on the street; waiters were nicer and gave us crayons and stickers. I get to be more of a confidante, a role model, a parent without so much pressure.