I've been wanting to talk about this for weeks but, you know, there's Personal and then there's PERSONAL, and it's so hard to figure out which is the kind of personal that's good to blog about and which is the kind of personal that should go in a diary. But it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep, and the middle of the night is such a good time for confiding things.
I'm feeling moody and upset, and it's because I think it's time for Paul and me to move on to The Snip stage of life. And I realize from previous discussions on this topic that for some of you it's unfathomable that I would want another child or feel sad about being done after five. In real-life discussions with other moms, eyes bug out of heads when I say I'd like another.
What I want to emphasize is that for me, this is NORMAL LIFE: when someone says "How do you do it?," I don't have an answer for that (other than "It's not as bad/hard as you'd think") because this is just ORDINARY. Having one baby felt ordinary, having two felt ordinary, having four felt ordinary, having five feels ordinary---and I would like another child, and to me that's no weirder than someone with one child wanting a second. And this is not because I am a freak of nature: a few generations ago, we all would have been like, "Only five kids? Do they have...you know...problems-if-you-know-what-I-mean?"
Can you tell I'm feeling a little rough around the edges about this? I feel so stuck, trying to communicate the way things are, and the way they're NOT. It's so frustrating to feel the bugged-out eyes all the time. I know, I DO KNOW, that five children is not the norm in this generation and in this culture, but it's the norm IN MY HOUSE and IN MY LIFE. In a household with two children it would be odd to suddenly go to six children, yes, but in a household with five children, it would NOT be. And because we're already a one-income household, and because we bought our house and our car as a one-income household, adding another child doesn't make much difference financially, either: one more plate at the table, one more use for the handmedowns, that's all. Maybe a small increase in the water bill for the laundry.
Anyway. Anyway. YOU know all this. It's not a financial decision at our house, not even a little. It's that Paul says he is at his maximum capacity for spending quality time with individual children. He says he doesn't have room in his heart for another baby. Whether or not that's true (he thought the same about Henry, and that has not turned out to be the case---to a degree that is almost comical) is irrelevant: it's his reason, and he's not backing down no matter what I say or want or think or feel or WHATEVER.
And as time goes on, the convenience factor has started to help me adjust to this. Henry is potty-trained now, and Elizabeth can put on her own seatbelt. Henry is the only one who still does things like draw on the walls, and he's due to stop that crap any day now. It's nice not to have to carry anyone. It's nice that no one's in a 5-point car seat anymore. It's nice that everyone can feed himself/herself. It's nice to be able to get rid of clothes Henry outgrows, instead of saving them. It's nice that half the kids can make their own breakfasts and lunches.
And I can see more and more freedoms ahead: soon no one will need a hand held. Soon everyone will be able to pull up his own pants. Soon everyone will be able to tie his or her own shoes. Soon everyone will be able to bathe himself. Soon I will be able to close the office door when I'm working. In two years Henry will start kindergarten, and the year after that all five will be in school all day. (But this is like your boss telling you don't worry, soon you won't have to do Task A and Task B anymore---when actually Task A and Task B are your favorite parts of your job.)
Reading Marie Green's posts on the topic have also helped me adjust, by making me think day and night and very intensely about the topic. And at this point...hey, are we two full years past my own Big Crisis? I think we are, but I don't want to look it up, even to link to it. I just remember it was near Christmas. Let's say two years, and not only has that been some time to get used to the idea, it's been some time for our family to settle into its state of Being Seven of Us. I'd wanted Henry to have a buddy, since it's Rob and William, and then the twins, and then Henry alone---but Henry has joined up with the twins. Another baby at this point would be born when he was four, which would mean we'd have Rob and William, and then the twins and Henry, and then a lone baby.
But just because I can see the upside of not having more children, it doesn't mean this isn't a big deal in our marriage. It was a matter of one of us wanting things one way, and one of us wanting things the other way---and only one of us could have it the way we wanted it, and Paul is the one who gets it, at the cost of what I wanted so badly. There could have been another person in our family, and he decided on his own that there would not be, and I had to submit to that. I think it leaves scar tissue, when one spouse lets his or her preferences trump the other spouse's. When the stakes are very very high (a PERSON, a whole person who won't exist), there's more scarring than when it's a matter of one person getting to make the decision about which car the couple will drive.
May I interject here that in the past when I've said such things, commenters have acted as if I got MY way with five kids and then Paul finally gets to make a decision by saying no to a sixth---when GOODNESS that is an icky and untrue way of looking at things. Paul and I BOTH wanted and planned on four children, and without getting into details let's just say that Henry was the result of Paul's decision as well. It's not those five children on my side of the scales, versus poor Paul getting only the decision to stop; it's the two of us wanting and having a large family, and now differing in whether our family could handle another member. It would be the same decision/situation if we'd both wanted the first child, but then I wanted a second child and he didn't: the number of children agreed upon by both parties before the disagreement is irrelevant.
So. I told Paul that if he was really really really definitely sure he would never change his mind about another child, he could make an appointment. And because recently he implied (possibly only carelessly) that if I made the appointment it would be "my decision," I added that he would need to make the appointment himself. Now I guess we will see what happens. I feel sometimes panicky and upset and sometimes impatient and irritated, and I wish very much that we really did have "child lines" on the palms of our hands that would tell us the fated number of children for us to have. I feel like by telling Paul he can go ahead and live our lives his way, I'm giving up on a person who could have been here but now won't be. Also, I think he totally owes me as many cats as I want.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...