Monday, January 9, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Room for Seconds?

Something happens when your firstborn turns two. The friends and family members who have been fairly good about not asking when they can expect to see baby #2 start to get antsy. Your belly isn't getting bigger; you don't seem to be checking your watch for ovulation updates; you're not even discussing the possibility of a little brother or sister for #1. Clearly, you are not right in the head.

Most of my friends with children around Jack's age have either just had their second, are pregnant with their second, or are actively trying to get pregnant. And apparently I'm expected to do the same. At the park the other day, a friend of a friend, who has a three year old daughter and is herself pregnant with her second, asked me casually when I was thinking of having a second of my own. I'm not sure when it became okay to ask a near-stranger when they're planning on breeding again, but when I told this lady that I wasn't sure there was going to be a second, a look of surprise came over her face. It was like I'd just told a butcher I was considering going vegan, and a little neon sign flashing DOES NOT COMPUTE appeared over her head, only for a moment, before she smiled and said, "Oh."

At this point in the conversation a certain amount of back-pedaling is required, before things get really awkward and you pass the point of no return. I usually say something along the lines of, "My husband just joined the Foreign Service and we'd like to know where we're going next before we decide." This is something people can understand (well, a lot of people don't understand why we want to join the Foreign Service in the first place, but they can see why you'd want to make sure you'll be living somewhere you won't be expected to give birth in a field before making any decisions), and generally the conversation can be steered toward safer ground, like the unseasonably warm weather, or poop (parents can always bond over poop; don't ask me why). But in my head, I'm always thinking, "What is wrong with me that I'm not dying to have a second child already?"

I know there are parents out there who decide to have one child. Many of my friends growing up were only children, and for the most part they are happy, well-adjusted human beings. I read somewhere recently that only children are actually more successful than their siblinged counterparts. Kids are expensive, and they require a whole lot of time and energy to raise properly. And yet making the decision to have one child seems unthinkable to most people I know. Some of them are just eager for another baby; some want a friend for their other child; and some, it seems, have another child simply because it's the thing to do. I worry that Jack could be lonely without a sibling, especially considering that he's going to be growing up all over the world, but there's no guarantee siblings will be friends. I enjoy the freedom of only having one child right now, but eventually I'm not going to care about going to karaoke on a Saturday night with my single friends (I hope). If we end up in the middle of nowhere with a fabulous nanny and no Internet, having a second might seem like the perfectly logical thing to do.

For now, I'm hoping that one day I'll wake up and know that it's time (or not), that Jack will cease to be a baby in my eyes and I'll long for that warm baby smell, the teeny tiny hands and feet, the gummy smile and that sense of importance that comes from knowing this little person is entirely dependent on you. But right now, all I know is that the only thing worse than having to clean this up:

is having to do it twice:


Sarah said...

Haha good post. And when you're feeling bad about this sort of thing, remind yourself that your identical twin is nowhere in the vicinity of being ready to even have the first one. Maybe you're waiting until I'm ready so we can go through it together??

Mara Rae said...

That sounds like a perfectly legitimate excuse to me. You can tell it to Dad this weekend when he asks when we're having another.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Ha! When and if the time is right, you'll know it. Until then, I say don't worry about it! Those days of no Internet may just be on the horizon. ;)

Jessie Humphries said...

I have 4 kids, and I think I might be slightly insane at this point. I say one is awesome!

Leigh Ann said...

"I'm not sure when it became okay to ask a near-stranger when they're planning on breeding again,..."

I have three with one on the way, and it's the same nosy-judgy-judginess as when you only have one. My first three are all 16 months apart, and it seemed that that spacing ("too close," I heard) incurred just as much curiosity, not-computing, and head shaking as saying you're only thinking about one might.

Your body. Your family. Only you know what's right.

Oh. And the first thing people asked me when I announced we were expecting this one? "This IS the last one, right??"


Jenny S. Morris said...

LOL. You go through this when you have 2 as well. I get asked (mostly at church) if we want a little girl. I actually do want a girl but don't want to be pregnant/have a baby/take care of a newborn/or have 3 kids riding in the back of my car. OR end up with 3 boys and no girls. ;0). So my hubby and I have decided we are done. Unless I change my mind.

David P. King said...

We totally don't do what others expect of us. Life is more fun when we keep our friends on their toes. The age gap between our first two is rather shocking/unusual for a family in this area. Not me. Then again, I wasn't raised here. :)

Mara Rae said...

What amazes me about all of you is that you have more than one and you STILL find time to write! It gives me hope :)

Leila said...

You go Mara! As someone unexpectedly expecting (still CANNOT believe) child number four (yikes!), you can take my word that more children really do add a ton of work, stress, etc. And to think, I almost got away with having an only child, my oldest being 6 before she had siblings. Sigh.

There is the occasional joy when they all play contentedly together for hours, or the older do loving, big sisterly things for the younger, or the younger acts so cute and loving. That said, this joy might be superseded by all the times they bicker, refuse to share, compete to see who can scream the loudest, and/or all cry at the same time. I love them all dearly but the hard fact is once you have another, you can never put it back!