I’m pregnant again. This comes at a time when I’m not quite sure that I even know what I’m doing with the first one, who is 19 months old. I can’t believe that I actually planned this when now as I sit on the couch sick to my stomach it feels like the last possible thing I could ever want. And not because I am sick to my stomach. I thought the day would come when I would "have it down" and although I have flickers of that feeling, I certainly don’t feel secure enough to add another one to the mix. I still get overwhelmed when I think past the moment, when I let it hit me for the millionth time that I am responsible for this little human and it’s not something I can get out of. Oy.
I also find it difficult to rationalize the fact that I am a parent in my mid-thirties and still unwind by watching Laguna Beach on MTV. That just feels embarrassing and there is no chance of me ending this habit anytime soon. I tell myself it’s OK because I religiously read Maureen Dowd’s column in the New York Times. I try and cleanse my bad habits with good ones in hope of some balance. Alas, I decided to give up trying to be perfect by the time my toddler is two and miraculously realizes that I am not. I decided to just pay for her therapy instead.
Then I begin to really ask myself the questions. Why? Was I bored? Did I miss the attention? The glow of pregnancy? Am I avoiding a career? Did I need to swing the focus away from the kid and back to the mom? Did I think it would make my husband work fewer hours? Did I just not really want to commit to losing those last ten pounds? I am so not proud to say that all of those things played a part. In theory, a second child, it sounded lovely, but now as I go through my already exhausting day, I wonder how will I do it?
I am scared. Let me list the ways:
1. We don’t have lots of money. That somehow seemed OK with the first one because with the romance of it all, surely we knew we could live off love. And breast milk. Well, the novelty of a newborn has worn off and the introduction of solid food has proven to be expensive.
2. I do everything. (Disclaimer: I have a wonderful, loving husband who is a fantastic dad yadda yadda yadda but due to fear #1, he is gone all the time quickly climbing the ladder by working as many hours is as humanly possible in one man’s lifetime.) Yes, eventually it will solve the money issue but that will be after the kids are long out of diapers. Diapers that have to be changed many, many times a day. By me.
3. I had postpartum depression. I’m not just saying that because it is so trendy. I really did and it really sucked.
4. No wonder I unwind with mindless junk TV. Why did I think it was OK to bring children into a world of racism, war, and hurricanes? And into a country with an incompetent, inarticulate government? No wonder I had postpartum depression.
5. I am handing down a very clumsy gene. I can be a bit messy and I have serious spatial relation problems. I trip and I walk into things. I often say the wrong thing. I mostly don’t mind but I would love to have my kids think of me as graceful.
Then I clear my head and rewrite the list:
#1. We will never starve (Proof: I myself gained close to 60 pounds during my first pregnancy — I suppose that I should add that to the "Fear List" as well). There is a financial plan intact. Plus, all we really need is enough to get by. What a child truly needs is love, community, laughter, creativity… these things don’t cost much.
#2. They do get older and I will miss the days when they needed me for absolutely everything. Also, having a wonderful loving husband who is a fantastic dad is not such a bad disclaimer to put on someone. Quality not quantity…
#3 & #4. Drugs. (Fuck Tom Cruise.)
#5. Klutzy can be cute. Disarming? Charming? I like to think so. Grace goes beyond the physical.
Now here comes the cliché: I think of the look I got on the way to the park today. Like I had made a miracle happen because a slide was in my child’s near future. Moments like these come flooding into my head and I know I could write an infinite list stuffing the beauty of it all onto pages and pages. All the wrong reasons, the memory of the PPD, the sleepless nights and the long days of martyrdom, melt away.