one lump or two?

The question is on the table. We’ve just reached the one year mark of no-nursing, and largely sleeping through the night. (I’ve been waking at 3-5am lately, but for no clear reason.) And so we’ve been talking about the possibility of a second child.

At Ben’s first birthday, I was asked if having a baby was the best thing I had ever done. I said no, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had just peaked in  a case of slow-burn post-partum depression, exacerbated by months-long insomnia and increased isolation.
Now, with the help of more sleep, I’d still say it is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most important. The most transformative. That I have never felt so much at stake in my life as when I think of what the future can hold for him. And, in case this is the first post you’ve read of mine, that I utterly adore him.

The painful mysteries of infancy that laid me to waste are more easily understood from where I sit now; and that part of what needs to be understood is that you can’t possibly get it in the moment. You can only be in the moment with the little whelp, reassuring him or her that you are there, and that you know he is unhappy/angry/frustrated.

But the notion of the satisfying motherhood is still more theory – I’d argue myth – than anything else for me at this time. I know it’s the most important thing I do, but it isn’t close to the full picture of who I am. I live in a place where people do not know “who I am” – a self-important phrase no doubt, but one that I mean with humility. That self-knowledge, as well as the ambivalence of himself in the face of our early experiences, all but puts the kabosh on it – though in his annoying Danish optimism, he insists on saying “Let’s see.”

Reading up on “only child” experiences hasn’t helped much – it’s as much of a crapshoot as imagining a child could choose the personality traits of parents – though it has served as a reminder of the rich, messy variety of experiences.

So, what do you think? Knowledge of me is not necessary in order to provide thoughtful advice, but it may help.

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2 Comments

Filed under 40th Birthday, aging, awkward, children, confessional, delight, mother, Motherhood, son, toddler, Toddlerhood, Uncategorized, what i did for love, women

2 responses to “one lump or two?

  1. A few random thoughts from the dilettante:
    -past performance does not guarantee future results. That is, your first child may be a mellow sweatheart, but your second could just as easily be a screaming banshee. Don’t think you’re gonna get a carbon copy. :)But then again you might.
    -it’s a “do-over” of the sleepless nights, diapering, etc., coming just as you think you’ve got the parenting routine down. It’s easier because you know what to expect and can recognize baby signals though.
    -seeing siblings play together is heart-warming; hearing them squabble over who gets to be SpongeBob and who gets to be Patrick is less so, but still actually cute.
    -balancing the work thing is hard; if you don’t love your job seriously think about staying at home a year or two so you can dive into the local parenting scene. With your skills there will certainly be employment somewhere when you’re ready. I was lucky in that I had a job I liked but for which I could expend less effort (i.e. nix any travel, set particular work hours) when the kids were babies. And now that they’re older, I can ramp it up again, career-wise.

  2. After I had my first child, I was afraid to have another. I thought I wouldn’t have enough love to go around–strange I know. Four years later, we welcomed my little girl. My first was an easy child, my little girl had colic, and I had depression and didn’t think I was going to make it at times. I was never the mommy-type of person–I still think my husband is a better mommy than I am. It was hard and with the depression and living in another country–I didn’t know who I was anymore and I didn’t want to be known just as a mommy.Four years after my girl, along came my LAST–my funny little boy. I can’t imagine my life without all three of them. I did lose myself a bit in the process, but, I think the pain has made me a better person and a better writer. My children don’t get as much of me–time that is–as they did before, but when they are with me they are getting the whole me now–the mom that laughs and writes again and they give me inspiration to write at times! I think you will know if you should have another when the time is right.

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