When I was on maternity leave and Grey was a few weeks old, I ran out to the grocery store one morning. The only people grocery shopping during the day in the middle of the week are old people and stay-at-home moms. It was a completely different crowd than I was used to seeing. I watched this mother trying to get her three kids and her groceries into the car. She was in sweats and she was definitely not showered. Her blonde hair was half pulled back, half hanging in her face. She had dark, black circles under her eyes and she may or may not have been crying. She looked like a mommy zombie straight out of a parenthood horror movie. Grey was sleeping quietly in his car seat in my cart. We met eyes and she gave me this look like, “Enjoy it while it lasts. Just wait until you are outnumbered and they are throwing tantrums and hitting each other and screaming in the aisles.” At that moment, I vowed to give myself some time before having more children. Maybe a lot of time. Come to think of it, maybe Grey will be an only child.
So last week, while I was visiting my mother for a few days, we were heading out to meet my sister for lunch. If you have a toddler, you know that attempting to stuff them into their winter gear is a full on fight that lasts at least three rounds: 1) coat that consists of an inner and outer layer, 2) bunchy sleeves and chunky mittens, 3) hat with a Velcro chin strap. She watched and laughed as I challenged Grey to a little winter coat wrestling match.
“What’s crazy,” I mentioned to her, “is by the time he is old enough to put his coat on by himself and be a little but more independent, I’m going to have to start all over with baby #2.”
And do you want to know what her response was?! She said I should just have another baby now. Her ingenious solution to the fact that I was struggling and exhausted was to double my work. Somehow, that just doesn’t add up to me. She continued on to tell me that she had three kids under age five at one time (as if I didn’t know this already…) and that at the time, she figured if she was going to be home with one she might as well be home with three.
A small part of me can understand this logic, but I have to say, I’m just not ready to do that to myself. We are starting to sleep through the night consistently and Grey’s weaning off formula. Thank GOD – that shit is expensive. I’m going to let myself enjoy that for a while before I ruin it by bringing another little bundle of responsibility into this already busy family. And most importantly, I’m totally not ready to give up alcohol and caffeine for another 14 months straight.
And you know what’s even crazier? She’s not the only person to ask when we were planning for a second child or to suggest we give Grey a sibling. First of all, family planning isn’t really a topic I bring up with people. It’s almost like asking a couple who’s been dating for four years when they are getting married. It’s awkward and pressuring. Maybe the way to handle questions that we think are too personal is to give an answer that’s a little too personal. If I was the girlfriend in a long relationship and someone asked me when we were getting married, maybe I’d respond with something like, “Actually, we hate each other. The only reason we are still dating is because we live together but as soon as our lease is up, I’d dumping this douche bag.” Similarly, I’ve been working on a response for the next time someone asks me about baby #2. I think I’ll say, “Ugh, a post-baby body is such a drag. I can’t imagine dealing with leaking breasts, at least six weeks of bleeding, and absolutely zero bladder control again right now. Besides, I really enjoy drinking wine and we’ve finally reestablished a sex life now that Grey is sleeping better, so I think we are going to wait a few more years. ” That should shut them up.
While I love my mother, I am going to have to disregard her suggestion to have another baby right now. I know a lot of people endorse popping them out one after another, but I am adjusting to motherhood slowly. Plus, I’m still having occasional nightmares about the woman I ran into at the grocery store. I need a few more years to forget her haunting face before I can risk becoming a mommy zombie myself….
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