"Are you ready for another one yet?"
A baby, that is. The infamous question.
Always asked in such a simple tone of voice that I often feel as though I am being asked if I'd like another slice of pizza or a refill on my glass of wine.
If only it were that easy ...
I never know how to properly handle this one. I realize it's merely a conversation starter at most times. I am probably guilty for reading into it just a little bit more than I should. For some reason, however, I just can't help it.
First into my mind pops the word "NO". Absolutely not. Ever. And then, a quick "thanks for asking though!"
I then revise this abruptness to be more appropriate for my outside voice and usually end up saying something like, "I don't know ... not yet ... maybe ... in the future." (insert fearful facial expression here).
Anxiety still grips my heart as I think back through the past year and a bit. The thought of re-living everything again sends panic deep into my soul. I finally feel like I have gotten my groove back ... in more ways than one. My body feels like my own again. I am getting good quality sleep. I am enjoying the little moments with my bug. I fall more in love with her every single day. We laugh more often than we cry. I am reaching for a few goals beyond motherhood. If I choose to do this all over again will it be like hitting a reset button? I ask myself ... why would I choose to voyage back down these steps I have worked so hard to climb back up on?
It's not that anyone has bluntly told me to my face that I must have more than one child. I suppose I have created this expectation of sorts in my own mind? I have moments where I feel ok with the thought of only having one baby ... and then these guilt-ridden sort of imaginary issues start whirling around in my mind ...
The possibility that she will be lonely. A lonely, only. That she will not be socialized, or able to share, or that she will be spoiled. I think of what it was like growing up in a family with four kids ... if she never has to share her Barbies with her sister, will she grow to be a generous? And if she doesn't have a little brother to tease her all the time will her backbone grow to be strong?
All of this, along with the overall discouraging thought that maybe I can't handle the chaos of more than one. That I will never, ever live up to all of the Mamas who talk about doing it all. Career, marriage, home, kid #1, #2, #3 ... I honour and look up to all of the amazing parents that do this day in and day out. Huge props. Mad respect. But, I can't help but feeling like a little bit of a failure for not feeling strong enough to do the same.
Everyone says the second one will be easier. And I get that. It's logical. You know what you're doing the second time around. You know what to expect. All of the first time parental anxieties are (I assume) no longer lingering around. The shock to the system must be much less. And all of this is great news. It gives me hope - but for some reason that hope isn't for myself .. it's for all of the other Mamas. The Mamas who want to have more than one, and who make this decision with the utmost joy and confidence.
I try and flip my way of thinking.
Maybe it isn't strength that I am missing. And maybe the issue with this entire train of thought is just that, finding a way to stop defining myself in comparison to others, or based on what others expectations are. Maybe it is more important for me to accept and feel proud of the type of Mother, the type of person that I am right now, in this moment.
My Mom said something to me the other day about this issue that truly made me pause ... "You have your baby, Michelle. Your girl. Your amazing little Sav." So who cares about what happens next, right? I am blessed to have her. There are parents out there who by a product of circumstance don't have the choice to have more than one, or who can't even have one to begin with. And, for this, I feel grateful.
I won't say never ... I might get there someday ... but, in the meantime I am ready to change this unwritten rule. Having a child, whether it be one, two, or twenty ... it is a personal choice. And for me I choose to be at peace with my decision for now. And I choose to see the positive things that come from this choice - I can give her more of my time, more of my attention, all while feeling completely in every moment. I can continue to work on my own mental health and personal goals as well as using some of my extra minutes for focused time with my deserving husband. And most importantly, I can continue to work on being proud of the Mama I am right now. Which is what we should all do. Stop with the worrying about what is "right" or "expected", and instead be both grateful and blissful about the life we are in the process of living.