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.