Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No one to tell us no, or where to go

One thing that's been on my mind a lot recently: children.

"No duh,* " I hear you saying. "You're a stay-at-home-mom, Caroline. Of course you're thinking about children."

And you would be right. I do think about children a lot. (Although most of the time when I'm with my children I'm actually thinking of other deep, meaningful, important things, like 'When can I make an appointment to get my eyebrows waxed?' and 'I hope my UPS package comes today.' It seems I have to go away [and get away] from my children in order to have them return to the forefront of my thoughts. Which is what I did this past weekend - go away, that is - and as such I pined for my children as though they were gone forever.)

But I'm talking specifically about the NUMBER of children we have, which is two.

And that question that friends new and old (and well-meaning/pushy family members) ask you with increasing frequency:

"Are you done?"

Meaning, "Will you be having any more children?"

And I don't really have an answer for them.

KB has mentioned several times that he is quite happy with our quota of offspring. Two's good for him - we've got the heir and the spare, so to speak. I think this is a common position for the breadwinner in the family (if your family is so structured). They are worried about the bottom line, and three kids are more expensive than two kids.

Me? I am not so sure. Part of me wants very much to have another child. I am one of three, KB is one of three...it feels like the right number, the perfect number, the magic number. (Right about now, you should have De La Soul's "Three Is The Magic Number" stuck in your head...you're welcome.)

[Also, to be honest, I would like to have a girl. I've written about this in the past, and my want/need to have a girl has not waned. I have a good relationship with my mother, for the most part, and I'd like to have a daughter in my life. I like the idea of a built-in female friend and of having someone I can mentor. Of course, I also tell myself that maybe my very need is the reason I shouldn't have a girl child - my idea of what it's going to be like (and why I want to have one) is probably not going to line up with reality all too well. And having a child should be about wanting to bring another person into the world, whomever that person may turn out to be, not about my own personal yearnings. Right? Plus there's no guarantee a third baby would be a girl...]

I recently turned 36 years old, which, while not technically ancient, is getting up there in terms of ease of procreation. If I were to have another child now I would be dubbed a woman of Advanced Maternal Age and subjected to extra rounds of fun pre-natal testing events that weren't deemed necessary when I had Miles and was a spring chicken of 34. Amniocentesis, anyone?

So part of me feels like, if we're gonna do it, we should probably do it soon. It's not going to get any easier, both in terms of the actual conception and pregnancy, and also in terms of how tired we're going to be when the baby is a newborn. (See what I did there? I started talking as if it were already a foregone conclusion. I should have said "how tired we would be if we had another newborn.")

Another argument in favor of getting on the stick (so to speak) sooner rather than later is that I often feel now, as a Stay At Home Mom, that my life is not my own. My life is almost totally devoted to the care and feeding of two small human beings, and when that starts to change back into a more half-and-half situation (i.e., when both boys are in school part or most of the day) I'm not sure how willing I'll be to return to the land of the enslaved after having a brief taste of freedom. The real world! Adult conversation! Working on my writing more than once a week! I can...almost...touch it...

Of course, the flip side of that argument is that maybe after I've had a couple years of more regular, reliable "me time," (god how I hate that phrase) in the mornings while the boys are at school, I'll feel more relaxed and groovy and ready to handle another baby. So maybe we should wait. Who knows?

Or maybe we shouldn't have another baby at all.

My trusty brain likes to remind me of things like massive, crushing sleep deprivation, varicose veins and unwanted C-sections after 36 hours of labor. Sibling rivalry, carpooling and endless dirty diapers. Toilet training. Spit-up. Post-partum depression. Massive, crushing sleep deprivation.

Do I really want to put myself through all that again? I had Nolan a year almost to the day after KB and I got married - we didn't have a lot of together time before we had kids, and our marriage could certainly use some Us Time. Another baby will bring up all the old "Whose sleep is more important, yours or mine?" arguments that pit us against each other, instead of reminding us that we're on the same team. (Him: "I'm a doctor! People's lives depend on me! What if I'm sleep deprived and I make a mistake and someone DIES because of me?" Me: "I'm a mother! Our children's lives depend on me! What if I'm sleep deprived and crash the car and we ALL DIE?")

Essentially, I think it comes down to a war between my head and my heart (or perhaps my head and my ovaries.)

The desire for another baby is strongest when I'm doing something like putting Miles down for his nap, and Miles is doing something lovely like falling asleep on my shoulder and snoring softly. Then all the More Baby! cavewoman hormones cascade through my system and make me KNOW, for sure, that I definitely want another baby. It will happen. How can it not? Babies are lovely and I want another one.

And then, an hour later, I have to wake Miles up from that same nap even though he's not done sleeping because it's time to go pick up Nolan from school. And he's cranky. And we get in the car and drive 20 minutes and I forgot to bring milk or a toy, so he's miserable. And then we come home with Nolan and they start fighting. And I have to cook dinner while holding a 25-pound toddler in my arms who's screaming because his brother won't let him play with his Transformers car. And when KB (finally!) gets home we try to eat together and have some conversation before the boys start to fall apart and we have to split up, one parent per kid, and wrestle them into and out of the bath and into PJs so we can get them to bed before it's time for US to go to bed. There's no room for a third kid in that scenario, is there?

It's like my mom always said about having three kids versus two: You have to switch from man-to-man to zone defense.


No easy answers. I'm stopping there because Hey, Guess What? It's time to go wake up Miles and pick up Nolan from school!

Thanks for reading.

* Total linguistic tangent - why do the phrases "Duh," and "No duh" mean exactly the same thing? Shouldn't they be opposites? Am I exposing my grammatical ineptitude when I use "No duh," like people who say "irregardless" when they really mean "regardless?"


Tressa said...

I thought the phrase "No duh" was supposed to be a sarcastic "No" and then an affirmative "duh" like "No, duh".
Then people got lazy and started saying it with light sarcasm...

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