There's a cafe in Baltimore where the toddlers can toddle and play with someone else’s toys while their mothers finally sit down for probably the first time that day. It's a wonderful and creative space, and its owners obviously have good business acumen because it’s often packed to the gills with children and mommies who come for storytime and stay for lunch. It's one of the few places that us walk-everywhere city-dwellers have deemed “worth getting in the car for” every Wednesday.
For the last few weeks, my son and I have gone there to meet friends, and because he’s one of those magical unicorn children who occasionally sleeps in past 8 a.m., we sometimes linger with the big kids after everyone else in our immediate age group has headed home to nap. It just happens to be the case that several of the big kids have new baby siblings, and that gets me thinking.
My son was enamored of a sweet, slumbering three-week-old nugget today, and even though I haven’t felt the heartstring tug asking me to go a second round, I wonder if the timing would be good.
My son isn’t yet two. If I were to get pregnant again today, he would be two and small change by the time numero dos takes their first breath. For the time being, I’ve effectively avoided having “two under two, ” a prospect that is both horrifying and intriguing.
Could I have done it? Would it have been better than waiting this long? Maybe I'll try it between two and three, or between three and four? People do it, after all.
Three and four?! When we were solidly within the “parenting pipe dream” stage of life, my husband and I said we wanted four children. Four. I know that there are people out there in the world who have four and more, and I salute them, but now that I’m actually doing the mommy thing (or “things” I should say, because there are so, so many things), I’m thinking three is the new four.
Don’t get me wrong. My kid is awesome. Truly. He laughs loudly and kisses with his whole mouth, throws balls like a junior all-star, and is generally happy. BUT. I cannot imagine being pregnant and taking care of a toddler, much less having a newborn and a toddler at the same time.
The nursing, for one. The sleeping, for another. And then the newborn turns into a toddler, and then what am I supposed to do? I currently work from home and even though I usually consider myself to be tough and capable, I genuinely can’t imagine a scenario where I would be able to keep it all together.
But again, people do it. Could I?
I’ve heard some mothers say that they aren’t sure they're ready for another kid because they love the first one so much, and they worry that they won’t have enough love in their hearts for number two. As of now, that doesn’t stress me out as much. I know that my heart will grow and grow to meet the needs of my littles.
What worries me isn’t a possible lack of love, but a certain and inevitable lack of energy. I already have a twice-a-day coffee routine. I already cut my work hours from full-time to part-time, and I’m considering going hourly. I've already gotten sick more than a half a dozen times this year. The dog doesn’t get walked nearly as often as we would like, and the fridge has soup in it that's as old as the tiny infant we saw at the cafe this morning (funny how three weeks is sweet and fresh for a small human, but stale and funky for soup).
Can I really do this?
I don't know the answer. I have mothered through six seasons so far, and each has been so entirely different from the others, and each has been entirely different from what I imagined. This isn’t good or bad, it just is. But how much more uncertainty can my life handle?
Maybe it’s all uncertain, on some level. Tomorrow, anyone of us could be gifted a ton of money (unlikely), or be hit by a bus (hopefully just as unlikely). If I had to compare having a second (or third, or fourth) child to either of those scenarios, I’d choose the former, so maybe that's it.
Maybe I'm ready to accept the gifts and just dive in and do something for certain. Maybe I’m ready to watch my boy be enamored of a sibling, to have my heart grow by leaps and bounds, and take my breaks in the creative spaces that pop up and find their way into our lives.
If the seasons have taught me anything so far, it is to have faith in myself and in the process. People do it.