Thursday, June 11, 2009

baby clothes on the goodwill pile

We did some spring cleaning a bit ago. Made a nice big pile of stuff to go to goodwill. I tackled our son's room and decided that all the baby stuff we had been holding onto just needed to go. I'm not planning on having another child, let's free up some shelf space. When DH came in to take the pile out to the car, and saw all the baby stuff I had put on it, his shoulders slumped a bit. "Oh" he said. "This makes it feel so final."

It's not something that comes up too often, but I know that my husband would like more children. Just when I get feeling at peace with my family planning decisions, I realize that it's my peace and my planning, but not the decision that my significant other would make. So, not family planning... selfish me planning.

A one child family.

It would only take one more child to appease his disappointment. A sibling. So our son would have someone to share with, grow up with, grow older with. And this is where my insecurity about my family planning concerns really hits a tender weak spot- what is best for my son. I'm tormented by the anecdotes about the lonely only child. About what my not having any more children will mean for him in his life. I cling to stories about normal healthy people who were only children.

Fecundity and procreation are all around me. At church on Sunday it seemed the bellies of every woman under the age of 40 were blooming with newly implanted life. At church, in my neighborhood, among family, I feel like such an anomaly. An ovary-ed freak of nature deaf to the call of multiply and replenish.
I'm okay being a freak.
Occasionally I get twinges of guilt/sadness over my husband's regrets about our family. However, what really gets me is the doubt, the the worry about what possible harm I am inflicting upon my son by my unwillingness to give him a sibling. (Mom guilt. We will never be good enough. We will always be the cause of so much harm.) Sometimes, just for that, in insecure moments, I waver; Okay, Yes! Fine! Let's make a sibling!


I keep a stash of pregnancy tests in the bathroom. Sometimes I get this wave of terror that my birth control has failed and I am pregnant. I rip out another stick to pee on, praying to my goddess mirana that it isn't so. She has not failed me so far.

I should just get my tubes tied.

But then...

I see the slump in his shoulders;
"this makes it seem so final."
"Well," I say,
"If we have another baby we can just get new stuff."

[meanwhile the clock ticks away.....]


The Numismatist said...

Your artwork is amazing.

My husband didn't have bio children but he is an incredible stepfather to my daughters. Luckily (for me) my baby basket was gone before we married. I know as sure as I'm writing this that I would have felt bad and had one more for him if it was possible. That would mean a child the same age as my oldest grandchild.

But I'm glad I didn't. I felt complete at two.

Chandelle said...

I love that piece.

I couldn't think of having more after these two in part because they were born so close together. So if we had another one, we would really have to have two, because otherwise the third child would inevitably feel left out with the age difference. But then I wondered if it would be healthy for our children to break up into teams of two. So maybe we would need to have a fifth to balance things out.

You really can drive yourself crazy thinking like this.

I don't know that I'm normal or healthy, but I didn't grow up with siblings, and I feel pretty neutral about it. It has its pros and cons, as does having siblings, I'm sure. I never feel sad to have grown up alone. And I'm glad that our kids have each other, but they're such distinct individuals that I think we could have had just one or the other and been happy, and either child would have been happy - the second child was never essential to make the first child complete, if that makes sense?

Jeremy just had a vasectomy and we feel nothing but relief. I don't know how we would have handled having disparate ideas about family planning. I'm sure you can navigate that with your usual grace. You seem to have a very strong relationship from your description (and those photos!).

Ginger said...

that is the best part of marriage, compromise.

hope you are both able to find something that will make happy.

i went off and on with each child wanting more. we always wanted them felt we needed to have more but with each my mentality got a little more crazy. so i am happy that we stopped at four lol which seems like a big number nowadays for a family. but it would have been hard on the kids having a crazy mom if any of that makes sense

G said...

thanks numi :)

and chandelle too. "You really can drive yourself crazy thinking like this." Yah. and I do too.

ginger, yeah, it was the 'lets keep mom sane' thing that has been the uniting force here. And we are united. Mostly. Honestly, this hardly ever comes up. DH has been very supportive of my decision. I just know that he would do things differently.
and sometimes I get all dramatic about it.

Lessie said...

Hey, hang in there :) Maybe someday I'll convince you to snowbird up here in the summers, and I'll be rich enough to come down there in the winters, and then Max and Theron and Gareth can be brothers together ;-)

From the time you take to provide friends for Max, I'm sure he'll be fine.

As much as I love both my boys, I wish I had followed my gut instinct sometimes and stopped with one. I know you love Able, and I know you don't want to disappoint him, but ultimately it's your body and psyche that will take the biggest hit, so do what you have to do (now who's selfish?).

ECS said...

Hey, G -

Great post. I can definitely relate. I just now came across this Kate Harding piece in Salon about the disapproval heaped upon women who choose not to have children. Thought you might find it interesting:

G said...

lessie, SO TEMPTING! :)
and yeah, that's the conclusion Abel came to; it's why the topic so rarely comes up. (wish it could be enough to bed down all my issues with other's expectations. Ha.)

ECS, wow, great article! If I get around to reposting this elsewhere I may link to it. Thanks!

Erstwild said...

Interesting. We talked to one of our Bishops, and he said him & his wife stopped having children, even though they felt like more were out there.

This has been a difficult subject for my wife & I. Eventually, I had a vasectomy. My Mother used to hint we had too many children (4), but after the "fixing", my Mother started worrying how could we have replacement children if all 4 were to be killed. Groan.

-Mike H.