For the record, and I am serious, I am not interested in having another baby. I am firmly in the one and done camp. Unlike my parents and everyone else who made conscious choices when spacing their kids, I'm good.
But I am a bit nostalgic for that baby I once held in my arms who is now an opinionated toddler who can wriggle away and potentially injure me in the process. A loud and dramatic toddler. A vocal and emotional toddler. A two year old adorable terror who will be three in a month.
As a stay at home mother, I have literally watched this child grow and change every single day of her life. I haven't missed more than a few hours here and there of her development. I was there when she rolled over, when she sat up for the first time, and when she took her first steady steps across a room. I have watched her learn to climb up the stairs and taught her how to slide down each step, one at a time, on her bottom. Now she regularly charges up and down without holding onto the railing, and often laden with toys. Quick flashback: I clearly remember the day I watched in powerless horror when she tumbled down each step at my parents' home--an experience that apparently made no imprint on her as she was gleefully running around the house just fifteen minutes later as if she had just gone down a sliding board at the playground.
I miss my baby girl, but because I have watched her grow before my eyes, I am also ready for her to mature into whatever phase we're supposed to be in at this point. She has mastered the use of the word "no" and she knows when to say "please" with the right amount of fake sincerity. She can sing along with her favorite tunes and knows how to find them on my tablet. (And when I first began work on this piece on an unseasonably warm February afternoon, she was busy squishing ants, which I believe is a childhood rite of passage.)
But missing that baby isn't enough to compel me to take the plunge again. Not at all. Nor is cooing over all the pictures of the adorable little cherubs of my friends and acquaintances that over-populate my FB timeline. So to answer the inquiry posed by so many about the arrival of my next baby...and to emphasize my declaration from the second sentence of this piece, I AM DONE.
For starters, I am 44 years old. God willing, I will be in my 60s by the time this child will be halfway out of the house. Second, I am so over tantrums. I repeat, I AM SO OVER TANTRUMS over the dumb isht that gets her upset. This morning it was about getting dressed. This afternoon it was after we had gone to the bathroom at the Costco. This evening it was because I wouldn't buy her some cheap Minnie Mouse plushie to go with the one she already has. Third, I don't want to tempt fate by assuming that I will have another drama-free pregnancy. Especially since I am convinced the price for that easy pregnancy was the longest and most annoying post-partum recovery (and I'm not entirely sure how much of that was just old age). Finally, I need to reclaim my time. I need to build my empire. I need to be me, and not just the Mom to that child who won't wear her coat in the cold or who likes to collapse in the middle of the floor for no good reason or who likes to dance to any kind of music whenever she has an audience.
I love this child with my whole heart. I think most mothers agree that there is nothing that compares to the love for one's child/ren because there is nothing that prepares you for the way your entire being evolves. Everything changes--from the way you remember your life before to the way that you see your life ahead. And I respect that for many people, they want to multiply those feelings by having several children. Perhaps I would have felt differently a decade ago (and admittedly, I did).
A decade ago, I had a different life...one that never envisioned the roller coaster that I've been riding for the past (nearly) three years. Without her, the life ahead of me didn't promise to be nearly as stimulating. I love children, and once upon a time I saw myself with the American ideal: two children, a dual career couple, healthy and involved grandparents, and a clean house. Sometimes our dreams change. I'm okay with a roof over my head, one occasionally attentive grandparent, the Hub's good government job, and one very spirited headstrong girl whom I hope will take over my empire one day.