Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why not just practice the rhythm method and see what happens?

from here

A lot of my friends are currently trying to decide whether or not to have a second baby. Actually, they are writhing in a sort of tortured late '30s angst trying to decide whether to have a second baby.

I get it. Here you are, you've got your mate and your career and your one completely, ridiculously doted upon offspring. You still get to go out with the girls every now and again. You're having sex once or twice a week. Your body is more or less back where it belongs. You've got it worked out. Why mess it up?

It's not a bad question to ask yourself. But I find that I have little patience for the dithering. Maybe because giving birth to twins knocked me off my axis so profoundly that I never really got to the part where I felt like I had it all worked out. Maybe because I'm jealous.

I imagine life with one baby as a kind of gauzy, pink-tinged Gerber commercial in which you have hours a day in which you are required to do nothing more than suck on perfect little infant toes. If I only had one baby, I tell myself, I would never lose my temper, or yell, or say things like, "when you learn to cook your own dinner, you can start complaining about the food" to three-year-old children.

I suppose what I am saying is, I am not the person to ask when you are considering having a second child. I always knew I wanted two children. I was wholeheartedly committed to the idea of two from the beginning. But that's not why I am not the person to ask.

I am not the person to ask because there are many times when I want to grab my friends by the shoulders and shout, "Don't do it." I want to tell them that it will indeed mess everything up in all the ways they suspect. I want to warn them about never really being able to enjoy a lazy Sunday, or eat an uninterrupted meal, or have twice weekly sex again. I want to tell them about that weird shrewish voice that will come out of their mouths when their children are bickering, and how the idea of going out to a restaurant with the whole family will seem like an impossible dream.

Half the time.

The other half of the time I want to tell them to quit their hand wringing and get knocked up already. Join me in my messy, wonderful suffering. Enlarge your heart. Join the human family. Get in here and root around a little.

Mostly I don't say any of it. Mostly I shrug and say I don't know. Because, of course, I don't. If you are waiting for the right answer, forget it. There is no right answer.

I am of the best-guess-and-no-guarantees school of decision making. Go with your gut and hope it works out. That's how I approached my marriage and my career and the decision to become a parent in the first place.

And really, the big decisions are just a mixed-bag of emotions anyway— moments of despairing defeat and moments of profound and blissful joy. And in between lots and lots of moments of folding the laundry or watching crap TV or running out to the all-night Safeway to buy milk. Sometimes you are the luckiest girl in the world, and sometimes you look over and think, "This? Really?" And there's probably nothing more we can ask for.


Brandi said...

You, of course, have summed up parenthood in that last paragraph more eloquently than I ever could. It's absolutely true.

And then somedays, it really pays to have a grandma close by!

Simply Mel said...

I'll be honest, I never intended to have one, but the little crumb "made it past the goalie" as her father proudly states. Best 'mistake' we ever made, but I definitely share my true feelings when asked if there will be another - NO WAY. We beat the odds and have a perfect one and why mess with fate. Many of our friends are blessed with twins, and I truly bow down and kiss the ground they walk upon because you mothers of twins are my heroes. I admire your strength, commitment and ability to keep your sanity. I love my crumb and completely adore every single moment I am with her (and that's 24/7 because we have no childcare or family within 3,000 miles of us), so she is it.
Parenting is the greatest role I have ever been given, and I'm going to keep trying to perfect each day with my one and only. I'll live vicariously through you and your superwoman powers!

Leah said...

My favorite recent commentary on parenting 2 children goes something like.. "everyone thinks they're an expert at parenting... until they have their 2nd child."

I'm one year in to two children, and that pretty much sums it up.

Kitty said...

Well geeez, how did you read my mind??? It's a secret - tortured, ridiculous, secret dilemma.

Love your writing.

Julie said...

Glad you're getting that out there - people need to read this. The Mister said this one time, "I can spend a whole day with one of them with my eyes closed." - I never understood that until I get a morning with just one of them and my shoulders relax, my face brightens, and I get down on the floor with the one and just hug them and love them. And then the other comes home and the fighting ensues and problems emerge. But for that small amount of time, I pretend that I have one - and it's bliss. Pure bliss.

Up Mama's Wall said...

Thank you all for your comments. I so appreciate your perspectives. Mel-your single-child bliss is the sort of thing that, on bad days, can make me feel bitter. I wish I had the time and patience to love every minute of it. I really do.
Oh, and I'm about as close to being a superwoman as I am to being a unicorn.

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