About a month ago, we had one of the greatest family weekends ever. We did gazillions of chores (including painting our bathroom, replacing a faulty outlet that has been driving the whole family nuts, and planting peas and new grass seed), we went to gazillions of kids’ sporting events (okay, really just one baseball game and one soccer game, but that is enough, isn’t it?), we had our ex-babysitter and good family friend over for dinner and a bonfire in the backyard, and we played board games. As my wife and I drove to Home Depot to pick up a few things, leaving our now old-enough kids home on their own, I confessed.
You see, I desperately want a baby. I think about pregnancy and small toes and sleepy baby snuggles on a daily basis. But our family has gone through a LOT of changes in the last five years. My wife and I have each moved cross-country, I moved in and became the parents to three kids, we’ve had four job changes between the two of us, I spent a year staying home with the kids, I went back to work, and we got married. And sometimes, just sometimes, I get a little bit afraid that throwing a baby into the mix is going to upset our delicate balance, which we just barely seem to have achieved.
I haven’t wanted to admit this to my wife, because I worry that being a *few* years older than me, and having already birthed three kids, she might be ambivalent about adding to our family. I sometimes am afraid that she will latch onto any lack of confidence in our baby-making plans and turn it against me. Even as I write this, I know how ridiculous that is. My wife is an incredibly loving person. She would never actually turn my own fears against me to get her way. If she was feeling ambivalent about the baby, she would just tell me. But she hasn’t, so she isn’t. She is actually very, very excited to have a baby with me. So I sucked it up, and I admitted to her, “You know, it’s been so nice. Sometimes I am wish we could just put the baby thing on hold and just BE, for a little while.”
My wife laughed. “Me too! But really, I don’t want to.” She correctly noted that none of us were getting any younger, including our kids, and we wanted them to all grow up in the same household. But also, the baby isn’t going to show up immediately. That’s the beauty of a 10 month gestation period. Even if we were to get pregnant right away, we are still a year away from our new baby, which means that we have a whole year to enjoy our family as it is.
When we talked to her about our plans to have another baby, our oldest daughter, who is twelve, was worried. She liked our family just as it is, she said. “There are three pictures on the wall. There’s no room for a fourth,” she reasoned. My wife reminded her of her reaction when her sister was born — after a few hours of amusement, she asked if we could put her baby sister back now. I reminded her that for a while, it was just the two girls, and the family seemed whole then — but imagine it without their pesky little brother. It just wouldn’t seem right. And so, we told her, this is how it will be with the baby. The family seems whole now, and it is. But after the baby is born, we will not be able to imagine life without our youngest child. Sometimes, in these moments of loving my family just as it is, I share a little of my oldest daughter’s worry. But then I remind myself of what we told her. I have no doubt that this family of mine has enough love to grow by one more person, and that once our new baby is here, we won’t be able to imagine life without our youngest child. And that new normal will become life as it is.