You Have the Cutest Monkey...I mean baby

Is this even safe? My arm flies across my body grabbing the blue metal bars in the back of the songthaew—which is basically the bed of a pickup truck with a roof—as we take a sharp right turn. I thought I was a bad driver but the drivers in Thailand weaving in and out of lanes is a whole different animal (honestly I'm not sure why anyone bothered to paint the lines that supposedly divide the road). Great, I think to myself, I will be on the road myself pretty soon, albeit on a motobike. I hang onto the cold bars as we try to catch the next ferry to Ko Chang, an island that puts most postcards to shame. Beer money, check. Hiking shoes, check. Bathing suit, check.

Living in Bangkok has many advantages, but the proximity to beautiful beaches and islands takes the cake. Don’t get me wrong— I love the city, I’m a city girl, but being able to go to a tropical island for a three-day weekend is something I’ve dreamed of.

It’s during one of these holiday weekends where I had a chance encounter with a baby monkey. Most people who come to Thailand hope to see monkeys; in fact a hefty part of the tourism industry is based on it. I was initially a part of this group. I am an animal lover and I mean, monkeys are cute, how could you not like them?

After lounging around for a while, we climb out of our bright yellow hammocks and start heading down the random pieces of wood that have been strung together to form the unconventional zig-zaged bridge of our guesthouse. We grab a beer out of the fridge and walk over to where the owner’s two monkeys are swinging away. They are small and inviting; I always envisioned seeing really big monkeys here, but their diminutive size was calming and accessible.

The little one jumps over to the bench we are standing in front of and gives me a once over, then decides to climb on me, burrowing himself into my arms and nestling his head on my bent elbow. He was just holding his gaze into my eyes.

A wonderful moment in time, but after the initial enjoyment wore off a scary question popped into my head: What kind of mother would I be? WHOA. Here I was on an adventurous weekend full of motobikes and fire dancers with my best friend, a weekend where I was sure nobody else around was thinking about motherhood; I know my main concern was beer bottles, not baby bottles.

Many people are married and have kids at my age, but I still have too many things I want to do- kid free things. I mean, how could I, as a responsible mother, take part in something as dangerous as the running of the bulls? And what kind of mother plans to spend two hundred Euros a day at Ocktoberfest? There’s not a really great way to be a Greek beach bum with a child either. But as this baby monkey batted his long eyelashes at me, his eyes were full of content. He was happy just because I was holding him.

I let go of that baby monkey and joined other backpackers who were heading over to a big beach party as the scariness of motherhood became a fleeting thought.

I think about that little monkey from time to time. Its strange how a crazy weekend with friends and fun put a life altering, life giving thought into my head. As a teacher, I am constantly around children, and yet those kinds of thoughts never really appeared.

An inadvertent moment during a holiday I had never celebrated before, and I had decided someday I could be a good mother. In part because I did things like explore islands, meet people from places I’d never been to and try new things. Someday I would have my own little one, and I could tell him to hold on tight while riding a songthaew.

J Ledford

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