Uneven Game Night Teams: Is That Reason Enough to Have a Second Child?

5 years ago

Something changed this week. My daughter turned two. But that's not the change I'm talking about. Something changed with me. Babies are looking cuter. Maternity clothes don't look heinous. I'm starting to think of the next year of my life in terms of where I could be in a first, second or third trimester. I'm asking my daughter if she wants a brother or sister. (The answer is always "no." But to be fair, her newly-two-year-old answer to everything is "no.")

As my daughter turned two this week, I started thinking about having child number two. It's not like something has suddenly made sense to me, some dramatic realization about life that has prompted this desire. I don't even know that I'd call it 'desire' -- that implies wanting and I can't honestly say that I want another child. But I am feeling compelled. Tempted maybe. My 37-year-old body is saying the time may be right. But my 37-year-old brain is saying "Seriously?! Do you remember how much you hated being pregnant? May I remind you of the 18-hour labor? Sleep deprivation? Perpetual poo? Bleeding nipples?" (Did I just share too much?)

I'm just starting to think about having another child and adding a second munchkin to the mix. And I'm feeling so conflicted about it.

On the one hand, I see another person in our family. In the big picture, the grand scheme, the long term. I see a tumbling blur of little limbs and fuzzy hair. I see two small people behind the two big people in the car. I see piles of teenage laundry -- inappropriate clothing and offensive t-shirts. I see juggling sports schedules and social events. I see heated debates where my husband and I are arguing with two passionate, clueless young adults because -- please -- they don't know a damn thing about how the world really works.

But then there's the short term. The reality, the details, the challenges. There's the grand scheme and then there's the grand sacrifice: pregnancy and the weeks that follow birth (or what I like to call, the grand blur), the first year or so of life where you have a drooling blob stuck to your boob or your hip 24/7, and then the second year where you spend all your time either chasing them or trying to explain to them why they can't do this or that in an irrational effort to make them understand you. And yet you explain. (In these situations I sometimes find myself speaking slowly and over-enunciating because that's what will make it click that running into traffic is bad. I do this with people who don't speak English also. Clearly, I am the weak link in the communication.)

When planning for child number two, how does one reconcile these two important yet diametric points of view? How does one get over the bumps (and potholes and spiky things that will pop your tires) to reach the beautiful destination? Actually, how does one make the decision to even get on the road?

Knowing what it's like to be pregnant, to give birth and raise a child is both a blessing and a curse when considering whether to have another. It's a blessing because, for the most part, you know what to expect. It's a curse because, well, you know what to expect. I know I will survive it and I might even enjoy it more, being a veteran and all. But my mind spins with wondering how it will all work and will it introduce equal parts of joy and chaos into our lives. And is that a good thing.

I've just started a business and, after a year of planning, am finally ready to start selling products. Kind of like pregnancy, there was a lot of uncertainty and exhaustion, the occasional "Am I really doing this?," and plenty of heartburn. I've done the hardest part, taking an idea from a lifeless seed and turning it into a little squirming ball of boundless energy who's ready to meet the world. Now I want to help it grow, support it, share it with people, glow with pride when it receives compliments. And even though I'm afraid of saying this out loud, I will say it: Will having another baby take away from my new business? Even though -- and I'd be remiss not to point out the irony -- my new business is selling baby products.

It isn't just the business that I'm worried about. It's the sense of freedom that I feel I've only recently reclaimed and my fear of losing it. I can run again, I can eat soft cheese and oysters (not together), I can sleep on my stomach, and I can sleep through the night. I can be gone from her all day because I'm not breastfeeding. I finally feel like I'm again an individual and not just an extension of someone else.

But what about all that adolescent laundry? It's easier to do larger loads and I probably won't want my clothes mixed in with theirs (because of the profane t-shirts and all). And what about the back seat of our car? Won't it just be weird riding down the road all lopsided with only one kid in the back? What about holidays and sports practice and family game night? We don't have family game night yet, but when we do the teams won't be even. And the whole arguing about politics and philosophical issues? I would really prefer to have two children for that because it's way better to win fights with more people watching.

And what about that special mini-chorus of laughter that only comes from the unbridled energy of two small siblings at play?

For some women (and men), I think the choice is clear. I know these types. I am friends with these types. They know they want a second or a third or a fourth and they know exactly when and under what conditions. They seem to have it all worked out. They're just cruising down the path toward their destination with every pee-break and pit stop already worked out, swerving around the potholes and singing along with the radio. Am I the crazy one?

Is it wrong that I can see the fuzzy outline of the big picture, but have no idea how to go about filling it in?


Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images.

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