I’m in a muddle about a variety of things.
Saturday I returned home from two weeks away doing research in “old papers” (as we tell the Bug) in an old city on the NE seaboard. The second week of my research trip I was joined by BD and Bug. We all camped out at BD’s Aunt’s house in a nearby suburb. I took the commuter rail into town each day to do research and BD and Bug went to the beach, rode on a boat, played with cousins, generally had fun with Aunt, Uncle, and Grandpa.
Now I am back home, trying to get back into the groove, and staring down the barrel of an unwritten conference paper, half-digested research notes, and a lot of mommy angst. What’s the mommy angst about? Glad you asked. There’s a few sources, but they intersect. One is the issue of the second child. Whether or not to have. And if, when. BD and I went out to dinner (alone! just the two of us!) while we were away and had our second Big Talk about the second baby issue. We agreed to have one, and to start trying in August so as to ideally pop the bugger out early next summer, maximizing the combination of the academic summer-off with the during-the-year maternity leave. I have a lot of fears. That the adults won’t be able to deal with a newborn, we’ll never feel sane and well-rested again, and that we will be ruining both our own lives and that of the Bug. He will never feel special again and we’ll never enjoy parenting again. On the way home on the airplane, Bug was sitting on my lap during takeoff and for much of the trip after, and he was so sweet and agreeable and his little, warm body fit so perfectly on my lap. I was so glad to be his mother, and I felt like I never wanted to lose that singular connection. So there’s that. And there’s a million other things: I don’t think Bug will like a sibling based on his personality and his reaction to other kids (he does like them but is in a major anti-daycare phase because he says he doesn’t like the other kids there, etc. He’s never been the kind of kid who voluntarily says hello and goodbye, never wants to hug other kids, is incredibly open and funny and nonstop chatty with BD and me, but can be somewhat closed with other kids and adults, though it does vary).
Of course there is a part of me that DOES want another child. I like being a mother, I thought being pregnant and giving birth and breastfeeding were, for all their pains, a powerful and rewarding experience. And I really do believe that in the long run I want more than one child. I have the deep feeling of perpetuating the generations of my family — not a sense of duty as much as a sense that existentially it’s the right thing to do. My parents are getting old, BD’s mother is already gone, and I now realize though my parents have loomed so large to me (and continue to do so in many ways) they are actually finite beings, and that I have to create my own life, my own future, and that feeling of creation and sense of futurity for me take the shape of wanting more kin, namely another child. But that’s all kind of abstract when you’re thinking about middle-of-the-night wakeups and the like. And let’s face it, the Bug was not an easy baby, so that’s my only experience.
Intersecting with all this is the fact the Bug is in a sort of frustrating phase. Yes, he is 2.5, so it’s all to be expected. Right now he is very sleep-resistant. We pop him into his crib after all the bedtime rituals and he instantly claims he has to go to the bathroom. Sometimes he really does, sometimes he doesn’t, so taking a tack of total non-response to his claims of “I need to pee” or “I need to poop” doesn’t seem like a good option. But neither does the endless struggle over it we’re all engaged in now. We always capitulate and go in, eventually, but it frustrates and annoys us and drags bedtime on forever. And then he gets up between 5 and 6 in the morning!! So we’re just tired. And he’s strong-willed, and we don’t really know what to do. But I feel a little worn out by it. And also by things like this: desperate crying/tantruming first thing in the morning because I, instead of BD, came to get him up out of his crib. Or because his potty wasn’t in exactly the right spot on the bathroom carpet. And you know, he just resists most things: toothbrushing, getting into the bath, getting out of the bath, getting dressed.
Of course I complain and feel wiped out and then two seconds later he is cracking me up or I’m just watching him lie on the floor absorbed in play and feeling that heart-swelling-with-love-and-amazement-about-the-beautiful-creature-in-our-lives-feeling. Ah, motherhood.