"Would you like a refill?"
I've been pondering the possibility of Pumpkinpie II. Pondering because, while I always thought I wanted just one, I wasn't sure enough to do anything permanent to ensure that. Pondering because I think that if I do want a second helping of cute baby pie, I need to make up my mind in the next year. Pondering because I want to have thought about it enough by then that I can feel confident in my decision, whichever side I might fall on. But will I ever really be sure? I am a person of lists, who strives for certainties, but this is one of those grey areas, where whichever way I go, I may never be certain what the other path might have held, and which I would have preferred. And so I am pondering for all I'm worth.
Being, as I say, a person of lists and deliberations, I often deal with stress or confusion by sorting. So I am sorting through some of my thinking here, some of the pros and cons, as I see them. These are the things that I am worried/curious/unsure/waffling about.
Most of the arguments against having just one simply don't stand for me. I was an "only" until I was nearly twelve, so I know well that one child can entertain themselves, is not by definition lonely, and is not necessarily spoiled. Indeed, I think there are certain advantages to a single child. I had advantages that other kids, kids in families of multiple children, didn't have. My parents took me with them everywhere - to the opera, to concerts, to dinner in restaurants, to parties, on road trips, to live on building sites, whatever. I was, it must be said, tempermentally suited to hanging with adults, but certainly with two, this would not be done. I love that I was able to sample all of this early on. I'd love to be able to do that with Pumpkinpie, too. It's just not so easy with two - not only is there more gear and more expense and more general brouhaha, but two together is more unpredictable and more prone to inappropriate behaviour for this sort of venture. Travel, too, seems infinitely more frustrating with two than with one - do I ever really want to hear myself shouting to two squabbling children to "cut it out back there!" while they whine about who was touching/teasing/calling names?
Indeed, while a #2 may in fact provide welcome and ready company for Pumpkinpie (an argument for), I am not sure I am ready or able to deal with the kind of bickering and nattering that often seems to accompany siblings everywhere they go. Being so far apart from my sister, we never had that kind of relationship, and I'm not sure I could take it. Would my head simply explode from the whining? Would I be seized with a burning desire to clonk their heads together that I could quell only by sitting on my hands or sending them to their respective rooms like two boxers between rounds? Do I really need that headache?
And speaking of things I don't really need - more stretch marks? Um, not high on my christmas wish list. Another three months of nausea, followed by feeling like a beached whale and retaining water like the Hoover Dam at the tail end of my pregnancy? Not a get-back-in-the-saddle experience for me, really. Saggier ta-tas? While I was pleased and extremely relieved to see mine make a comeback after Pumpkinpie's weaning, I'm not sure if they could do it a second time. They're not Cher, for goodness' sake. Another delivery? Feh. I could pass. It's true, while some women revel in pregnancy and love having the birth experience, I am not one of them. No, I am the not-so-earthy one telling myself not to sneer or slap her smug face. I was not into it. (It was all just so surreal and sci-fi-esque, I couldn't get there.)
And then once pregnancy was miraculously over? Babyhood. Babyhood is hard. I don't miss the baby year. I was happy to have it behind me, with weaning and sleeping through the night and solid food and some teeth and walking and a more kidlike appearance, and all those those other good things in place by the time her first birthday rolled around. I am not one of those for whom a baby brings on a happy haze of lovey-dovey hormonal desires for another. I am not eager to re-enter the baby zone of feeding attempts and sleepless nights. Not at all.
On the flip side? I looooove toddlers. This, even with its occasional moments of total frustration, I will miss. I love the advent of language, the curiosity, the transparency of her thoughts as she connects the dots. I love the size of her - just right for cuddling, she still fits in my arms, yet is strong and substantial. I love the sweetness and caring that she radiates, the way she will fling her arms about my neck. I love that she can play alone, but likes to play with me. It's a fine balance, and while I'm sure that I will enjoy her next years too, this is a time that I simply love.
Another thing I love? I love that she's a girl. I know it's totally un-PC to say so, but little boys are a different entity, and I am just not that into them. I know moms say you love your little boys equally and for different things. I just don't feel like I relate so much. So what if I had a boy? What the hell would I do with a boy? What would Pumpkinpie do with a boy? Little brothers are a notorious pain in the ass, not the sister-to-become-friend I envision in any thinking I do about a sibling for her. Because really, if I were to have another, I would want it to be a relationship that would be good for her. Let's face it, it's all about her right now - I'm not one who wants another kid for another kid's sake, and if it's not going to turn into a nice plus for her, why bother? I'm not worried about that other kid's needs - they don't and might not even exist!
And because it's all about Pumpkinpie, I worry too, about how I could possibly cope if something ever happened to her. Are we, as Misterpie put it in one discussion, "putting all out eggs in one basket?" I do worry about nebulous and specific scenarios, the things that we hope never happen but do, the nightmares that some unfortunate parents have to face. I worry about these things in a very vague sense, as parents do. But when we started talking about this I also wondered - would having another child really help? Is there any way I would be any less heartbroken, or would it just mean that a third person would be damaged by some tragedy should it (god forbid) occur? Wouldn't that make it irresponsible to have a new family member with this idea in mind? Misterpie thinks maybe it would give a parent a reason to go on, to be there for that other child. I just don't know. I hope I never have occasion to. I'm not sure which side I fall on with this point.
I do worry, too, about that second child. Not just about its sex, but also about all the other things that could be wrong. What if it's colicky? A difficult kid by way of special challenge or simply a personality that makes me bonkers? I'm not sure I'd have the patience, and I wouldn't want to play favourites if it didn't turn out to be as easy and cheery and sweet as Pumpkinpie. I just have a hard time believing we could get so lucky again, and I even find her tough at times. I shudder to think of what the opposite could bring, and it makes me hesitate to push my luck. Why not quit while we're ahead?
On a related note, I love the relationship we have with her right now. I'm hesitant to change it, throw another personality with its own demands and needs and quirks into the mix. I worry not about whether I could love another as much as I love her, but about dividing my time, lessening my ability to have concentrated moments in which to listen and teach, play and build memories, and create the kind of close and lasting bond that I hope will help us through the times of tougher adjustment (um, teenagerhood, anyone - eek!).
While I am reluctant about that, though, I do think that the four-year gap I would be leaving between them would help to mediate some of that. Pumpkinpie would be moving out of the toddler stage, better able to understand and communicate her feelings and the needs and rules around a new addition. She has so far demonstrated a really very caring nature, sharing with us, the cats, and other kids, making sure everyone is okay. I think she would do well, and maybe even really enjoy the role of a big sister. She would by then also be potty trained, into her new room, and in a bed already, and she will still be in the same daycare for many years to come, so the upheaval would be kept to one area with that timing, which I think also helps in any major transition for kids. I like the timing for me, as well. I think I would be ready by then, able to handle it. I think it would work with Misterpie's new career, that he'd be established enough to have less prep at home to do, and could help more. I also wouldn't want to wait that much longer, both for the age gap and for the increased likelihood of problems with conception, pregnancy, and the child's health. I think next year would be the right time to make our move (er, moves? Heh heh.) if we're going to do this thing. And so am I pondering hard.
I am these days, for I know not what reason, feeling slightly more at ease with the idea of another, less quick to push it aside, but I'm not quite on board with it yet either. And so I am pondering. I hope by next summer, I will have come to a comfortable place in my mind, something that feels like a decision. A move from Pondering to Placid.
***Audience participation segment***
I am also soliciting not an opinion but an insight into your thought process about having a v. 2.0 - what swayed you for or against it? How certain were you? What, ultimately, made the decision?