03 Nov About Four.
So I’ve been trying to get Cory to go in on a third kid with me. He’s not feeling it.
He has good points. Like, how we’re constantly close to the edge (or dangling over it by our fingertips) when it comes to balancing two kids. How poor Baby Two, Daniel, is just kind of there. Henry knew a dictionary’s worth of baby sign language by now, and Danny’s just crawling around while we try to wash the dishes or throw in a load of laundry. (It’s good for independence, right?)
But to me, every month we’ve gone without trying to get pregnant feels to me like a race against time. It’s not getting any earlier. And there’s a beautiful baby girl who could have existed, but doesn’t. Having kids is this crazy power trip. WE CAN MAKE PEOPLE. So when we consciously choose not to, knowing how awesome the people we’ve made so far are, it feels really bad to not be making people. I mean, we’re really GOOD at making people. Henry and Daniel are great guys.
I fully know that’s crazy. I know how ridiculous this is. But whether or not it’s a rational feeling to have, it’s been there, this feeling of a really wonderful person who could exist and bring joy to us and the whole world, but doesn’t, because we can’t deal with making three lunches or putting three little people to bed or having three home sick on the couch at once. We can barely get these two little dudes fed and bathed on a regular basis.
Yet, I have my reasons for wanting three. Bear with me, because the level of CrazyTown I’ve got going on is only just starting, here.
The more kids you have, the more likely they’re going to give you grandkids. And I want grandkids because I have this very serious feeling of responsibility about carrying my family’s genes into the future, like time capsules full of the life stories of everyone you love — and yours, too.
Like, if I don’t have grandkids, who will care about my grandmother’s grandmother’s recipe for German butter cookies? (We make them vegan, but still. We have the family cookie cutters and everything.) And who will care about this house full of family heirlooms I’ve collected? And most importantly, who will make sure that my grandparents’ lives aren’t forgotten, and my parents lives are not forgotten, and my life and my husband’s life is not forgotten? It’s heavy business, man. I can’t just let that go because of something trivial like sleep deprivation.
And secondly, there’s this awful thought I have. I don’t like saying it out loud, but it’s part of this thing about wanting three. It might be because my mom once had a brother and a sister, and now she only has a sister. And her cousin had a sister, and then became an only child. Here’s the awful thought: I know I want there to be at least two to hold our memories and throw them into the future, and to decide what to do with us when we’re old, and you’re more likely to have at least two there if you start out with three. Get what I’m saying?
Okay, so now everyone knows what the inside of my terrible brain looks like.
I mean, I know you can’t just have as many kids as you want. Danny took a year to conceive, and we realized at that point that you can’t just get whatever you want because you want it. Fertility can be a fickle bitch, never mind complications and health and sad things I don’t want to think. I have friends who have suffered such heartwrenching trials and losses, and I know you’re always rolling the dice. You can’t be greedy.
Anyway, I’m not entirely letting go of three, but I wanted to write about something that happened last night. Cory was working late so I was solo with the boys for bedtime. Danny’s sick and he went down fairly easily. Henry asked for cuddles and got them – two full rounds, of course – and then I was doing “Stay In Room One Minute” (which means we sit in this ridiculous short little child’s desk chair until he falls asleep). Usually for that part I veg out on my phone while I wait. I don’t mind it that much. I’d be doing it on the couch otherwise.
But that night, I heard something that made me put down my phone.
Danny’s rhythmic breathing. And Henry’s joining in as he nodded off. It occurred to me that parents who don’t have two, or parents that don’t put their kids together in a room — they never get to hear this beautiful, melodic sound. A little duet put on by the Austin-Avon brothers. Two perfectly functioning sets of lungs made by me. It was a beautiful sound. I sat there listening for a while. Watching the little accordions of their chests go up and down, sometimes in step, and sometimes out of step, and then falling back in together.
I haven’t felt that present, that aware, that kind of gratitude, in a long while.
When Cory and I came up to bed later, I pulled him into the room to listen with me. And I heard Cory’s breathing then, too. And my own. The four of us, in the four walls of the room, breathing together. I noticed the four posts of the bed, the four corners of the crib. Our car fits just four of us if two are in car seats.We have four chairs for our table. Hell, four veggie burgers come in a package. Four seems like a complete number. We are lucky.
We are family. We are four. And we are enough.
(Right now, anyway. I reserve the right to have other epiphanies. Nobody’s spaying or neutering any Austin-Avons just yet.)