Sunday, July 18, 2010

And baby makes... four?



I've been getting TIME magazine for years. I used to read it cover to cover. Now if I'm lucky I make it to the letters to the editor that discuss articles from past issues that I didn't get to before it was time to recycle. The issues sit in the bathroom and occasionally Johnny thumbs through them while he's in there and emerges updated on world events. "Did you read that Iran banned the mullet?" he asks brightly, and makes me feel like a kid who hasn't done her homework.

This past week the cover story was one we both read though. It was on the growing percentage of only children in the US.

As Thora gets older and other things fall into place in our lives, we are now asking ourselves about #2. Do we want another child? And if we do, when? And what are our reasons for wanting versus not wanting?

Before Thora was born, we'd agreed on two. Probably, that is.

Somehow I envisioned our family as a family of four. I still do. And yet we are wavering.

Reading that only children are on the rise for a lot of reasons was interesting and thought provoking. Only children do better in school. They read more, have higher SAT scores. They get more quality time. And yet, when I, the only child with high SAT scores and an A average, was younger, I often felt like I was surrounded by grownups that didn't want to play with me, who could not relate to me. In an earlier blog entry I wrote that I often felt like my parents were both born at the age of 35 since they had absolutely zero recollection of what it was like to be a kid.

Desperate for youthful interaction, I always wanted to visit my friends or invite them over. My mother would tell me repeatedly, "Aimee, you have to learn to play by yourself." Board games are no fun on your own - there are only so many times you can play against yourself. I never had video games. I didn't play with dolls. I wasn't a particularly imaginative child. So I read. I would go to the library and take out as many books as I could carry and then devour them all. I'd spend all day lying on the floor of my room reading. I blew through books quickly and I reread my favorites often. All this reading gave me a wide and varied vocabulary, but I was also dramatic, sensitive, emotional. I often think I am that way because I tried so hard to get the attention of grownups who might have been more focused on children had there been more children to focus on.

That said, I loved being an only child as much as I hated it. Really, it was the only life I knew. I was not spoiled. I was independent by default. I am still independent. Autonomous. Focused. I am so the opposite of distracted and ADD-minded that when I am reading something or even thinking about something, I don't hear the people next to me when they're trying to get my attention. I like and need lots of alone time and personal space. I don't need to be entertained or babysat.

Johnny, on the other hand, was one of four. Four is a lot. Four is out of the question. Even three is a lot. Three is out of the question.

Pros of having two: Achieving my goal, living my dream. If we had them close together, they would have each other. If we had another girl, even better! We would be able to use all of Thora's things again. Plus I loved being pregnant. And I would love a chance at a more normal birthing. We would be even more child-centric. We would have a bigger and more fun family. But mostly it is this: I have a lot of love to give. Enough for another child. And I know that I would be a good mother to two. Also (and I hate even typing this), if something were to happen to Thora... and she were the only child.... the all-your-eggs-in-one-basket thing. I worry.

Cons of having two: I am already 37, so we'd need to get on this soon. Thus we would have two small children at once and I worry a lot about robbing Thora of her babyhood. It would very likely mean weaning her before I wanted to, moving her to sleeping in her room before I wanted to. And can we handle two little ones? One is hard enough! Would we be stretched too thin? I fear the double stroller, two car seats, attempting to tandem nurse. Also, we have a two bedroom apartment, so any new baby - boy or girl - would have to share with Thora, unless we move. But we just moved in. My responsibilities at work are increasing and this pulls me in several directions at once. I miss Thora terribly when I have to work late. Having two means missing twice as much, and putting twice as much pressure on Johnny as the primary caregiver during the week. Raising children is expensive. Could we afford it? Johnny stays home with Thora. Would I be able to support a family of four on my own, or would he have to go to work?

The strongest argument to keep Thora a singleton is our very real fear of the other shoe falling. I am so freaking happy these days that it's hard to believe my good fortune. I have never known this kind of happiness in my whole life. In the past few years Johnny and I got back together and I learned how to take control of my finances and my life. In the past year, I got pregnant and finally decided I wanted to marry the person I knew I was meant to be with. We had a beautiful, healthy baby who is turning into a happy and thriving child. We moved into a brand new apartment and became first-time homeowners. We saved for and bought me the diamond ring we could not afford when we got married. And most recently, I got promoted to VP at work. This is a streak of good fortune that I worry could run out at any time. Do I dare ask for more? Should I push my luck? What if the next one isn't as easy? Or worse? Then what? It feels like a gamble, and I am not the gambling type.

I still don't know. I don't expect to figure this issue out with one blog entry. We discuss this all the time and we are still at an impasse. Thankfully we do have some time. For now, I am going to continue to sit up here on Cloud 9 and love every second of my life with Thora, from the hair on her head to the toes of her feet, from playtime to nursing, from spending my lunch break taking her to Gymboree (yes, I am a complete convert) or getting a visit from her and her daddy for a quick Chinese lunch:




to being there for her first teething biscuit:







to running home from work to make it home in time for bath time and bedtime.





5 comments:

  1. Ok this entry basically made me tear up. I do not know why, but it did.

    If you ask me, I say two. And for one reason. Seeing the bond forming between siblings is the most beautiful thing you will ever witness in your entire life.

    But off course it is up to you! I do understand the thought of having an only child though. I thought I was done after I had Sumarrós but then Karítas happened out of the blue. Now I am just so incredibly happy and thankful that I have both of them.

    Much love!

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  2. growing up as an only child (in an environment where most of my friends were from large families) i always enjoyed the uniqueness of being an only child - the time to myself etc., but as i've gotten older i've become a little jealous of that bond between siblings, and the extra links that are formed in a family when another child comes along - something i've never experienced and my brain just cant comprehend plus that younger "time to myself" has transformed a bit into a kind of lonliness. trying to reconcile the comfort one has in being alone with the need to not be alone (if that makes sense :)

    either way, the decision for a second child isnt something both of you are taking lightly and that in itself shows that both of you (and thora too) will do fantastically if the family becomes four :)

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  3. I could tell you all the bonuses of having two (or even three, as I did), but what was right for me might not be right for you. We thought that two was enough. Then I found out that I was pregnant with David. I don't regret for one minute having him. Mine averaged 3yrs between and I still worried that the earlier ones got cheated while I was focused on the newest one. There is no perfect answer. The only question to ask yourself about having another one is "Why?". If you can't answer that one with surety, that tells you something. I know how you feel about having lots of love to give. I felt the same way. Trust your heart in this, and don't let your head confuse you with too many what-ifs. There will always be "what-ifs" no matter what your decision.

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  4. I admire and am grateful to you for speaking so candidly and personally in your blog; for vocalizing things I've felt and thought and even written, but never would have been able to post so publicly. I love reading your posts and vicariously absorbing some of this profound love and happiness.

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