It started when we got married. Before, really, since we’d been together so long. That age old question: “When are you going to have kids?”
It’s a delicate question, especially when a couple doesn’t have any kids. Maybe they’re trying and haven’t been successful, maybe there have been losses, maybe they don’t want kids at all. The curious, in general, are easily placated.
The frequency and persistence of The Question have picked up considerably since our first. Now that we have one, and people are sure that not only do we want kids but that we’re able to have them, it seems as if everyone wants to know when – and if – we’ll have another.
I guess I always thought that if I had one, I’d want another, but the secret and honest truth is that I don’t know if I do. I’m happy. I’m comfortable. My house is too small, our budget is too tight. We have no family in town to help us out, to give us a night off or be there quickly in a pinch.
Training my daughter to sleep took months and months and MONTHS, and now? Everyone in my house is sleeping through the night. We are out of the infancy stage, which frankly – please don’t judge me – I found boring. My 20-month daughter’s vocabulary is exploding, and being able to have a conversation with her is a relief. Our days at home together have become a joy – actually fun, instead of hours of long, hard work that drains me. I hated the crawling stage, I couldn’t wait for my daughter to hold her own bottle.
I feel like I hit the jackpot. My daughter is (in my humble opinion) sweet, beautiful, smart, and well-behaved. She is happy to hang out and color while we have drinks with our friends. She’s flexible and hilarious.
I know it sounds selfish to say this, but after three pregnancies and struggling to find our footing in the first year, I feel like I finally have my life back. It feels magical. We have friends from all walks of our life – with kids and without – and it’s working! My sweet girl isn’t cramping our style, she’s enhancing and expanding the great life we had before she came along. It feels like the best of all worlds. And for the first time in a really long time, I feel surrounded by a really great and diverse group of friends. Life is fun again. My daughter is thriving, and so am I.
I am really, truly happy.
But I can’t help but feel that I’m being selfish. Maybe when life settles down after a second baby – or at least once we’re out of that first year – I could have this magic back. I’m frankly not getting any younger – and in a few more years (good god, probably less than that) it might be really hard to have another. What if I’m squandering my chance for the family I’ve always wanted? What if that family IS what I really want and I’m just blinded by the easy fun I’m having right now?
I can’t help but think about the worst case scenario. I’ve lived a worst-case scenario. What if something happens to my only baby, my precious girl, and I’m left alone and it’s too late? The thought of something horrible happening to my beloved daughter makes me want to irrationally fill my tiny house with babies.
What if only children just aren’t as happy? New research shows that they are, but who knows? If all my hopes and dreams rest on my daughter, is that too much pressure? Is the love/hate of a sibling one of life’s quintessential experiences?
What about that second baby that I know I’ll fall madly in love with – am I letting him or her down? If I have that baby, I know I won’t regret it. Yes, I’ll find my new kid just as smart and beautiful and irresistible as my daughter and maybe I’ll even wonder how I ever got along before. Poor example I KNOW, but I got a second dog once. I won’t take him back now that he’s here, but damn sometimes I wish I had a do-over (anyone interested in a terrier that just. Will. Not. Stop. Ever?). No, I won’t offer my second baby up on this blog if it’s hard (and it will be), but haven’t you ever wished you had just taken the other road? Deep down? Can any of us really admit that we didn’t have at least have one tiny moment with that first baby when we whispered to ourselves, “Oh my god, what have I done??”
The truth is, when I picture my family in 10 or 20 or 30 years, I picture us with more than one child. The picture in my head is lovely and we’re all happy and I weigh 20 pounds less. Is that really what I want? And to what extent do I set aside my happiness now for the fantasy? We never really get the fantasy…right? What if right now is the fantasy?
One day over coffee, MD told me that there is no right or wrong – the right decision is whatever works for me and for my family. But what works for us? I just don’t know.
Here’s what I do know: I want to be happy. I want my family to be happy. I want to look back and have no regrets. I want to have fun! I want to be comfortable. I want to be a good person. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to let anyone down.
My answer to The Question? I just don’t have one.