I never felt really compelled to be involved in other children's lives and I can honestly say I'm almost scared of the thought of having to babysit a young child as I have no idea what I have to do (I'm really not used to being with small children). I feel that I can do better with older children, but even so we've spent so much time being with just the two of us that I'm rusty in that department. I have far more confidence dealing with young adult kids like my husband's elder brother's kids.
The last time we went back to Indo, I felt glad to go back to our hotel room after spending time with my brother and his family (and two kids). I had fun buying them toys and clothes, but I wouldn't volunteer to babysit the kids (for example). I wouldn't volunteer to babysit my friend's kids, either. In fact, I feel awkward when they come for a visit with their smaller children. If the child is already 7+ above, I feel less awkward with him/her.
That said, though, it still fascinates me how much I wanted/longed to be around little children when I was still trying to have a baby (I helped out at a daycare for 3 months back in 2010). I know that one reason for that was to prepare myself for motherhood, but one other reason was the strong need to prove myself that I could also be a decent mother. One other reason was probably more hormonal, because I've noticed a similar thing happening to a friend who's been dying to have a child of her own. Ever since the motherhood dream kicked in, she's been saying that ALL babies are cute and she wants to spend more time around little children. I remember vaguely that during the time I was so into my motherhood dream, I felt more fondness towards many children compared to (for example) these days. These days (after the motherhood dream is buried), I feel more selective fondness towards children (just like I did before we started TTC).
In short, I've never felt like I'm a kiddo lover, though I don't hate them, either. I think some kids are cute, some aren't. I admire (childless) people who love kids and love hanging out with kids (of various ages) and love being involved in various children's lives, but I have to admit that at times I struggled with the feeling of being "less than" those people. At times I wondered if I was lacking something as a woman and human being because I didn't actively choose to do anything much with various children.
For a loooonnngggg period of time I felt this type of shame coming and going. I wonder if the reason I felt this type of shame also had to do with the subconscious message from society that kept on throwing away the "Why don't you just adopt?" line to the infertile in general. I mean, it's as if those who want to have their own children desperately (but can't) should become like Mother Teresa or at least they're expected to do something as equally life-changing for other people's kids.
My saving grace was remembering something that happened many years ago. You see, one woman I know wasn't that maternal in her younger years compared to her peer, but when she became a working mom, she was so devoted and involved in her children's lives that it took everybody by surprise. When we complimented her and joked that we would never had thought she'd be that maternal, she said, "Well, but it's different when it's your own kids, you know?"
Remembering that story was the first step for me to help me let go of my shame. The second step was inviting my inner BFF for a long, heart-to-heart chat. The third step is publishing this post. :-)