Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The "Twoth" Child - Reflections on Having Another

 This was written when I was about six months pregnant with Linus.  I have pretty uncomfortable pregnancies - constant nausea that can only be controlled with medication that worsens my fatigue being my main complaint.  So life changed for Lenny before Linus ever took his first breath.  I can say for sure now that Lenny loves Linus dearly, but what I've written here still seems true to me.

Lenny has asked me twice now if "before this pregnancy" we wanted to have another kid.  The first time I said, "Yes" and he said, "why?" and I said, (without as much conviction as I would have liked) "We thought it would be fun."  "That's right," he said.  "It will."

This morning when he asked the same question and I said "Yes" he said, "That's a good idea because you won't have to play with me.  I'll be able to play with the baby - when he gets to be three."  That's the magic line in Lenny's mind when "the baby" will stop being a helpless, diaper wearing, toy chewing, toothless creature and become a human being he (Lenny) can play with.  In the meantime Lenny is planning to help me change diapers by singing the ABC song to the baby.  He wants to know if I think the baby will like it and I say yes.  Then he starts to recall details of stories he's heard about how he learned to talk and wondering if the baby will do the same things.

At this point in the life of our second child I am deeply convinced of the following:  Having another child so that the first will have a playmate is a BIG mistake.  I don't think that's the reason we decided to do it.  I think that I just had this maternal drive that I wasn't ready to turn off or tamp down and (tick tock) I felt I was running out of time to see if it would just fade away.  I didn't feel that Lenny would be deprived or stunted if he never had a built in playmate or had to learn to share (or defend) his toys 24/7.  I didn't feel that a "normal," "healthy" childhood needed to involve a sibling.

Now I feel, with some confidence, that I could have provided hours - years even - of quality, focused companionship to Lenny with the energy that I am now and in the future sinking into creating and caring for his little brother.  Don't get me wrong.  I know that Lenny will gain advantages from dealing with the challenges and blessings of another person to love, play with and yes, compete with.    But he will get less individual attention and I will NOT have an easier life. 

So if you think having a second (or any other number) child is for the sake of the other child(ren) my (unsolicited) advice is: skip it.  Take the child you have to the zoo, museum, science center, park, library.  Read him/her another story.  Play a game of "Sorry."  Sing that song that will get stuck in your head for three days and listen to that squeaky little voice sing along.  Do it all without heart burn, constipation, swollen feet and an overwhelming, constant sense of exhaustion that all combine to almost completely block out the sense of well-being you fleetingly remember achieving at other points in life.  Just enjoy what you have and don't feel any obligation to change it.

Don't get me wrong.  If you want to have another child - if you feel there is a place in your arms and hearts and lives for a second (or any other number) child I would also say: go for it.  Of course it's still true that hard things are worth doing.  That all the funny, amazing, joyful moments we've had over the past (almost) five years would have never happened without similar moments of frustration, exhaustion and anxiety when Lenny was still on the inside.  That this new little person will add dimensions of love and joy to our lives that we can only imagine now.  This child does not have to stack up to some kind of "worth it" criteria.  It's not his job to make our lives richer or more entertaining or help us learn patience or become better human beings.  But he will.  We will.  Some part of my stomach-acid-seared soul knows this.  Some part of my exhaustion soaked brain gets it.    But not the part that would like to take Lenny to the zoo, or swimming, or at least help him clean up the living room.

 photo credit: Wilson X via photopin cc


  1. In the end, it really does get easier with another child. Not at first, obviously (I had 2 babies that didn't sleep for nearly a year), but eventually they do play together, and you can get time by yourself. It gets so much better that I've sometimes wondered what I would have done with only ONE kid! I would have had to have been everything to him.

    1. Easier would be nice! It's still a tricky balancing act at the moment.