Tuesday, January 01, 2008

1 - 2 - 3

So, Munchkin can count. We didn't realize until she would count her own feet in the car, or chant out, "One-tooo-feeeee!" and then "Fohhhh-FIFE!" Now we read about Olivia and her seven accessories, her two bows, her four aunts. Munchkin points at numerals and sagely proclaims them all, "numbah-EIGHT!"

We've been thinking a lot about numbers lately. Mortgage numbers and house prices and moving costs and property taxes. And multiples of recipes for many visitors, and hours in the oven per pound of turkey. But we've also been thinking smaller: one child? Or two? Now? Or not?

I had always imagined I wanted two children, close in age--as were my sister and I. They could keep each other busy! All the diaper years would clump together and finish sooner! They could share my obsessive love between them, suport each other. When we were gone they could still be a family. We would be better at it the second time, and well-provisioned. But it turns out that when I'm pregnant, I'm ravenous, moody, needy, wild. Munchkin's infancy was really really hard, on her and on me and Pynchon, and it tested our marriage. When we met, Pynchon wanted three or four children. After Munchkin was born, he changed his mind: one was enough. Once Munchkin turned one, the debate raged: one or two? one or two? We didn't know and it seemed a decision that had to me be made. It got so that we decided in September to just stop talking about it at all, until Christmas.

One.

Pynchon is pretty clear in his reasoning and his desire. He makes sense. He doesn't waver. It's me--it's always me--who's angsty and convinced all at once. Here's the thing: in my heart, I know I just can't go through that first year again. I can't. The loss of sleep was really a very serious pain in my life, and in fact it still is. I worry that I will drive myself crazy trying to split my love and attention between two. We would be really poor. We don't need another major change, after four solid years of major changes. I'm not gracious around infants and I don't want Munchkin to witness the kinds of scenes her own infancy brought forth in our house. I don't want to go so seriously hormonal and crazy like I did with the first pregnancy--I don't want to gain fifty pounds and spray milk everywhere for months and months. I don't want to lose my sex drive entirely, to continue to parent in shifts and never get a chance to just be in my marriage.

We are settling well together now. Things are calming down and we are comfortable. I always wanted a daughter, and I have one: she's everything I could ever ask for. I feel like we won the lottery with her, kind and smart and funny and loving and cherubic and fantastic. We live well enough and with just one child we'll be able to travel together, to stay a one-car family, to treat ourselves. We can relax. There will be no squabbling, at least not at home, between children.

But.

What kind of person can't handle two kids? What kind of mother chooses sleep over procreation? What kind of mother denies her daughter a sibling? Am I really never going to experience pregnancy again? Two professional, solidly-middle-class people can't AFFORD two kids? I'm choosing a man over my kids? Are we contributing to underpopulation of this northern hinterland?

Pynchon looked me in the eye and said he was happy to stop at one child. End of story. Me, I know that I really only want one, but I'm miserable about it. Why?

Maybe it's the magic of two, that perfect family from the Dick and Jane readers (or, in my French school, the Rémi et Aline readers), that family I grew up in, the family that so many of you have. Maybe I feel like a shirker, lazy and selfish. Or materialist: trying to maintain my disposable income and my girlish figure. Or a bad mother: the experience was so awful the first time, I'm never going to do that again!

And so Munchkin will likely be an only child. One. Alone. There's a way, though, of rethinking this math that comforts me in the face of the power of two. She is one, yes, but we, together are three, enough to wrap the toddler in an all-encompassing family hug, enough so that everyone has company and solitude as they wish. Enough. One is the loneliest number, sure, but three? Three, if you consult your design magazines, is balance. Three is calming, three is right: anchored in the middle but broad enough to have scope.

We are three, who used to be two singles combined into a twosome that created a third. Our balance. Our family.

26 comments:

BOSSY said...

Hey baby, there are no written life rules. Or if there are, Bossy never learned to read them. Happy New Year cutie!

Kyla said...

Clarity like that is a gift. Your threesome is just right for YOU ALL and that is what matters. Don't feel badly, friend.

Cloud said...

Hey Mimi, doing what is right for your family isn't selfish, and it makes you a GOOD mother not a bad one!

I don't know if you ever read Ask Moxie, but she had a question on this not too long ago. I think the comments had a lot of good perspectives on the whole question, and I came away feeling a lot better (my hubby and I are sort of the inverse of you and Pynchon- he's sure he wants another. I'm not sure I can do this sleep deprivation thing again, and not sure how I would fit another kid into my life that already seems too busy.) After reading the post and comments I felt that it would be OK whatever we decided. If you're interested, here is the link to Moxie's post:
http://www.askmoxie.org/2007/12/qa-only-childre.html#comments

bubandpie said...

I was all set to start cheering for the second baby - and I stayed that way through your reasons for sticking with one - but your reasons for having a second pulled me up short. You should really never have a child out of a sense of DUTY - it should only be because that is what your heart wants.

(I got my positive HPT two days before Bub's first birthday, and now that Pie is getting older I think that's the ONLY way to do it: once your baby is old enough that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's too late to go back into the dark.)

Beck said...

"What kind of person can't handle two kids?"

All sorts of people are happier with one child. Stop being mean to yourself.

Oh, The Joys said...

You two know what is right and best for your family.

HNY, friend.

xo,
OTJ

cinnamon gurl said...

I so hear you on this.

For us, the jury's still out. But don't feel bad for doing what's right for your family.

slouching mom said...

you'll hear no shoulds from me.

what's right for you is what's right.

such a thoughtful post.

Karen said...

What a great post - and even I with three can relate - just to the need to "make a decision" - you know, a final and official decision at a relatively young age/stage in life - You will be happy because you are doing what is healthiest for you and she will not be lonely. She is blessed to be in her family of three and you all belong together. Happy New Year.

nomotherearth said...

I didn't want to go back to all the crap either. But I knew I wanted to end up with two, so I had to make the leap. In the end, you do what's best for you and your family, and to hell with "we should". Glad you know you what you want.

Raz said...

I am an only child - not out of choice from my parents, but things happened that way. I don't feel lonely, really. It's just something I know. Yes, I would like a sibling, but the only one I've ever really longed for is an older brother.

I think you'll make the right decision, and I don't think that the right decision is one of the two options. I'm not sure that what I said makes sense but I tried my best!

JENN said...

We are still debating on this topic. Good luck on finding peace in your decision. Hopefully, things will be clearer for you soon.

Omaha Mama said...

The way you write about one vs. two is how I feel about two vs. three. Exactly.

Whatever you do, you don't have to decide it now. You can revisit it in the spring, when you've weathered the current storms in your life. And then once Munchkin is potty trained, you may have a whole new perspective! :-)

It's funny, we just realized recently that our little Mason can count (sort of) which we say one, he says t-w-o. Then we say three, four, five...he says it too. Which we found very, very cute.

ewe are here said...

No one should have children or more children out of some sense of 'duty' or solely to 'give' their child a sibling. The only reason to have a child is because you and your husband want one, period. So you're doing exactly the right thing, it sounds like, for you and your family. And that makes you a wonderful mother, so stop beating yourself up.


Oh, and btw, I was going to comment on some additional earlier posts that I was catching up on yesterday about your house/buy out/no buy out nightmare that you are going through, but my computer froze up. I wanted to tell you how terribly sorry I am that this is happening to you and I really really hope that they're just trying to scare you into selling cheap. My only suggestion would be to contact your local bar association and ask if there is a free/cheap legal clinic in the area where you could get a consultation with an attorney to kind of suss out your options... They might have some good suggestions re strategy.

Mad Hatter said...

You can draw the line now, Mimi, but you are still relatively young. Who knows how you'll feel in another year or a year after that. I appreciate your desire for closure on the issue but keep in mind that ovaries have a way of talking over reason and sperm have this habit of really, really wanting to mean something...

All this to say, yup. You've decided. If the news ever changes, I'll understand.

Sandra said...

You make the rules for your life girlfriend. And three is a lovely number. It is ours whether by design or not. I like to say single child instead of only child ... sounds more sassy and less lonely.

Happy happy new year to you!

Mimi said...

Sandra! 'Single child' -- I LOOOOVE that. It is sassier, huh? Gosh it's nice to hear from you again ...

the new girl said...

Mimi,
I can SO relate to this amazingly sensitive and well-writen (as usual) post.

For some reason, hearing your words and your feelings about the painfully awful infancy period gives me tremendous comfort. One, because you really love your daughter and she has TOTALLY outgrown it and two, because like you, I have a hard time imagining doing this all over again. My husband, however, is all about having another, ASAP.

It makes me shudder.

Gwen said...

People have no business judging your procreative choices, whatever they are, now or later. I know they do it all the time, for god knows what reason, but that judgment is without merit, even if it does hold weight.

Enjoy the wonder that is your single child and your family of three (and listen to Mad; she's a wise one).

Jenifer said...

Mimi, I have shared this with Sandra too so bear with me if this is old news...I am an only (single!) child and living proof we turn out ok. Ha. Some might argue a bit about that, so let's just say generally ok.

There is no right or wrong and while we have two girls I was completely happy with one. That is not something I talk about a lot, but being an only child I think gave me that comfort. I wanted a daughter, had one and felt happy enough with her.

Hubby wanted another and I certainly didn't object, but I would have been happy either way.

Now the question for us is number 3? I have no idea and many parts of my truly believe I just could not handle three kids. For some reason though I don't feel like I have made that decision in my mind yet.

Your family is exactly perfect no matter the number. Then there are some friends of ours (for reasons similar to your own) grew their families in other ways.

No matter what you should never feel like your decisions are anyone else's business or subject to their judgements.

teresa said...

One or two is completely up to you but when I consider my own mother's decision to have 2 children I think she was right. I got some of her characteristics and my brother got others. The two of us together make a pretty good picture of her and I think that makes her proud. She gave a lot to us and I thank her for that.

NotSoSage said...

My heart has been aching over this question for months now. And especially since the decision has been made about full time school, as it's pretty clear that if there is a second child, it won't be until school is done. So many of the thoughts that I have been having are echoed here...I'm glad that you have come to a sense of comfort with the shape of your family.

kittenpie said...

We angsted over the same decisions and our own wrinkles and reasons, too, for a long time. I always thought I only wanted one. Just us and one. We came out on the other side, instead, funnily enough.

But let me tell you - I was an "only" until I was 12, and was thinking of having just one myself, so it looked pretty fine from the perspective of the one. My parents got to do stuff with me and take me places that no one else I knew got to experience. Restaurants, the opera, and so on. We were cozy and fine, and a house can be full of love with any number in it, as long as the love is there. Just thought you should know how very little it scarred me!

kelly said...

thank you for this post.
i have a nine month old and we're in the great debate ourselves. oddly i'm concerned that i'll leave her alone one day (whenever i go.. as morbid as that sounds) with no siblings. i don't know what i would have done without my sister this past year, losing my mother and all. but i just cannot imagine life with two.
i know everyone goes through this but there is always that looming pressure.
that being said, landry will be one of three. and we're happy with that =)

Alpha DogMa said...

My children learned to count 1-2-3-5. As in three counts and then take 5 in your room for a time-out. OOPS.

People pressure you to have 3 when you have 2, just as they comment about having 2 when you have 1. It never ends.

Isn't it strange how starting a family is a logical matter (can we afford the gear? how long for mat leave? do we need more insurance?) but the matter of adding is suppose to be only emotional and ethereal.

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