Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One or More?

This is Thanksgiving week, and my Mama is here in town. Thus, the posts are a lot fewer and further between. In fact, I think the last post was the day before she arrived.
I just read a post from RubySoho which sparked further interest in me, because I'm amongst the few who choose to have just one child. Aaryn commented about how she doesn't miss the baby phase, as much as she enjoyed Ruby's baby phase. I am 100% in agreement with this point. Points like this always beg the question for me, "why, if you enjoy something in life, is there an eternal quest to relive it? Can it not just be, in its goodness, and not happen over and over again?" I loved going through all of Hootie's little phases and yet, I am perfectly happy to remember them fondly, not try to get them back with another child. I'm not saying that people who have more than one child are doing this, but rather I am saying that enjoying the first child's baby stage does not necessitate wanting to "repeat" the experience. Not to mention the fact that the experience itself will be nothing like the first one when repeated. And that's not entirely because the children are different children, though that is part of it. But the experience of having a second is a lot more hectic and hurried and a lot less surprising and full of wonderment and awe. By the time the second one comes along, you have the first one in the house needing and wanting attention. You no longer have the luxury of sitting for hours rocking a little tiny baby in your arms, watching her sleep, nuzzling the baby fuzz on her head and smelling her perfect little baby smell. You don't have time to slowly trace the little veins on her eyelids, or smooth the little baby hairs back while they sleep, and lie on the floor with a stuffed thing, wagging it back and forth in her peripheral vision, just to see if she can follow it. That one is now running like wildfire through the house, singing made-up songs at top volume, while you hurry through changing diapers and nursing and/or bottle feeding, hoping the older one doesn't get into trouble while you're quickly tending to the other one. No, for people having second and third (or more) children, they do so because they love and want to have a whole bunch of them around, not because they want to relive the first child's baby phase.
For us, I think it comes down to being satisfied with our life with just one. She is fascinating, she is brilliant, she says the strangest things sometimes, and makes us burst with pride (just like every other parent out there). I do experience moments where I know that she will no longer sit on my lap, all leggy and cozy, wanting me to "hold her like a baby." It makes me sad that the day will come where she doesn't want 500 hugs and kisses a day, where probably weeks or longer will go by during which I won't likely hear "I love you SO MUCH, Mommy." I wish I could slow time down and soak her up for longer and longer, but no matter how fast or slow time races or drags, there will be an end to it, and it is the end I dread, no matter how long it takes to get there. At the same time, I am also loving watching her little mind work and learn. I hope, at least, that I am creating an environment for her where she can become whatever her heart desires, and can always ask me anything she wants to know. I hope that I will provide her a springboard from which to jump curiously into the world and embrace all of the wonderment it holds, rather than fearing it because of the scary things within it. I don't usually have the slightest idea how to impart characteristics I think are important and admirable in a person, or if it is even possible to "impart" them. I think that part is a crapshoot, honestly. But I spend a good deal of time thinking about it, how to teach and guide and inspire and motivate her. Truly, I have my hands full with just her. My Mama still thinks in her heart of hearts that we should have another. I don't know if it is just her desire for a steady stream of little tiny babies in her life (oh how she loves little babes!) or if she really thinks my life is missing out on something by not having another. We thought about it for a while, thinking she maybe "deserved" to be given a life-long companion or playmate, though that isn't a guarantee either. Many siblings don't ever become close, let alone stay close. And creating another person just for the express purpose of having a playmate for the first one seems like a rather flimsy reason to have a child.
In the end, we decided, at least for the time being (unless one of us has a change of heart), that we are perfectly satisfied with our one amazing little individual. One we can take to Europe and other parts of the world soon, one that we can likely send to college almost anywhere she wants to go. One we can fit neatly into our tiny little home, and still live in the city. Because that one little being fills our hearts up to the brim and overflows all on her own.

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