At the grocery store today, Owen sat in the cart. It was a big cart with room for two children (very well-behaved children). Anyway, Owen wondered (as is usual these days): “WHY?”
“So someone could sit beside you.”
“Well, a friend, or a brother or a sister.”
Later on, we bought a brick of mild cheddar. Owen placed it on the seat beside him. “This is my brother,” he said.
Later still, the soap became his sister. At the cash, we bought his brother and sister. The woman in front of us had a two-year-old, a one-year-old, and a pregnant belly. I had Owen, soap, and cheese.
This is coming out all wrong, but I have a feeling that you, my clever readers, are catching on.
We’ve been sort of trying to have another child now since September. Sure, I’m older, but I thought it might take, you know, 4 months or something. My plan – ambitious, to be sure – was to have a baby some time in May or June, you know, to coincide with the end of the teaching term. I know people who have managed this before (oh, wait: me.) But this time, it’s just not sticking, taking, whatever it is “it” does. When Owen was just two, it seemed like everyone (strangers!) were asking me if we were going to have more children. And I would blush (because – um – are you asking if I’m having sex? Isn’t that private?) and say I hoped so and we’d leave it at that. The last people who asked us if we were having more children were the people whose house we’re buying. Lately, with Owen approaching 3, people seem to assume that we’re done: “Oh, so you have just the one child?” – like it’s some kind of “only child” mail-order choice we’ve made.
A well-meaning woman who came to our garage sale last week said she had “pumped out” another one in some particular month because it would be easier to get daycare that way. I mentioned that we had been trying, and she said “Oh! I wish I could lend you my body.” (and I was a little horrified, though I know she meant well).
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not sad, or traumatized, or despairing. I have one beautiful, healthy child, and if that’s all I get, that’s pretty great. I haven’t suffered the heartbreak of miscarriage. I haven’t been pronounced infertile.
Speaking of infertility, a couple of months ago I went to a bookstore to kill some time and thought I would look up infertility issues – just to see. So (obviously?) I went to the pregnancy and babies section. I scanned the shelves and found books on feeding your children like the French (no snacks), baby-wearing-till-three, and the dangers of herbal tea. The “getting pregnant” books? Not there. No. I finally found them in the women’s health section, next to breast cancer and varicose veins. Seriously? Infertility isn’t a sickness. It’s just an absence, no?
We haven’t even been trying for a year, yet, so who knows. But I am beginning to realize a number of things: how miraculous a baby really is (funny how I didn’t get that last time); how surprisingly mysterious the workings of one’s body can be; and how very much I want this, despite having arrived at a stage where Owen is a walking, talking, potty-trained (!), self-reliant person. Why do I want to put myself through the sleeplessness and why-are-you-crying-please-stop-crying phase? I think it’s because I want Owen to have a sibling, an ally, a partner-in-crime. I love big families. Ideally, I think the kids should outnumber the parents. I may not be able to offer Owen strength in numbers but, like I’ve told him before, I will try (with a little help from Duncan, obviously).
In the meantime, he has brother-cheddar and sister-soap.