Something strange has been happening to me lately: I keep thinking I want to have another baby. Except, I don’t. The thing is, there are babies all around me. My brother just had a baby. My cousin just had twins. My best friend just had her fourth. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around this many babies, and I won’t lie, the smell and the softness and the perfection and the overall yumminess is hard to resist.
I keep thinking that it might be kind of nice to have one that I don’t have to hand back to somebody else. Except, it probably wouldn’t be.
I keep telling myself that this is normal. I’m forty years old, nearing the end of my childbearing years. Some urgent, crazy hormones inside of me are screaming at the top of their lungs that THIS IS MY LAST CHANCE! They’re taunting me, really, daring me to go ahead and see if I’ve still got it. They’re preying on my weaknesses, too. “You make pretty great kids,” they tell me. “Too bad you didn’t have more.” They also exploit my vanity: “You don’t look forty, and you don’t feel forty. What better way to stay young than to have a baby?”
These hormones, they remind me of that anti-drug PSA from the late ‘80s, with the girl who urges, go ahead and try it, it’ll make you feeeeeel gooooood. So I have to be strong, and not succumb to the peer pressure. Because having a baby now will not make me feel good. Having a baby now will only make me tired. I will admit that I regret not having a third child when the time was right. My husband and I both come from families of two kids, so for us, two had always felt like enough. But we were sort of kicking around the idea of a third several summers ago, just before my son turned four, just after my daughter had turned six. But that was 2008, and by September, the financial crisis had begun, my husband’s business was in shambles, and we weren’t even sure we were going to be able to keep our house. A baby was out of the question.
By the time the dust settled and things were back to normal for us, my son was six, my daughter was eight, and things were finally, mercifully, easy. No diapers, no strollers, no sleepless nights. They were both at the same school, all day, and I was back to writing almost full time. We could go out to dinners, we could take them on airplanes, and when we did, they could wheel their own luggage. The baby ship had sailed, we thought. We’d come too far to go back.
But now that my kids are eleven and almost nine, I feel like a baby would be so easy. Unlike when my son was born and I had to constantly cater to a two year-old, I feel like, this time around, I’d have plenty of time to actually enjoy the baby. Except, I wouldn’t. Because really, what am I going to do, go to Mommy and Me classes with a bunch of first time moms in their twenties? Go hang out at the park with all of the nannies? Please. I’m writing a book, I have two kids who need to me to help them with their homework and drive them all over the world, I’m on the Board of a nonprofit, I’m chairing a PTA committee, I go to no less than three different markets every week, and I generally run around like a maniac all day, every day. Yet somehow in my fantasy baby world, I’m sitting out in the backyard all day long, nursing and tickling my new baby’s feet. Uh-huh.
Part of this, too, is that my daughter is away at sleepaway camp for the summer, and I’m missing her like crazy. And even though my son is home, I keep thinking that this is what it will be like when I’m an empty-nester. A too-quiet house, a calm existence. If only I had a baby to keep things from being too…boring. Except, I’m not sure a baby would solve that problem.
After all, if I were to get pregnant right now (okay, not right now, I would need to at least finish this post first), I’d still have a fourth grader at home by the time my son goes off to college. Which sounds kind of nice, because I’d get to put off being an empty-nester for an extra ten years. Except, it wouldn’t be nice. Because it’s almost exactly the situation I have now, with my daughter away at camp and my son home alone, bored out of his mind, watching too much tv, making me play Pokemon games with him, and driving me crazy trying to constantly find friends to come over and keep him company. Do I really want ten years of that? Maybe, I think, I should just have two kids, one right after the other. Just start a whole second family. I could probably even get my own reality show – we’d call it Two Teens & Two Toddlers. Except, that sounds kind of horrible.
No. I think that what I need to do is just accept the fact that I have two wonderful children, and call it a day. So hormones, I say to you, Shut UP, please. I’m onto your little game, and it’s not going to work on me. Except, it might.