When Bennett was approximately 72 hours old, Rocky and I looked at one another from across the room and agreed we needed to do this again. The newborn euphoria was enough to make us believe that despite how hard this was and how hard it could get, it was worth it. “Please Lord, fill our house with millions of babies. We’ll happily take whatever you send our way”. Fast forward a few months later and friends that had babies around the time Bennett was born started announcing they were expecting again. I was excited for them because I knew that had always been their plan, but I couldn’t help but think, “better them than me!”
Bennett is what a polite mother would call “spirited” or “strong willed.” He knows what he wants and he wants it right now. Lately, that means he wants cheese for dinner and would prefer to eat all meals standing up. And don’t you dare try to bring him to a restaurant. Our morning routine looks like man to man combat, requiring two helmet-clad parents to change and dress a screaming toddler. Come to think of it, the toddler might require a helmet too since his patented move is to throw himself on the floor.
During a recent morning battle, I looked at Rocky and said that we had already ruined one child; perhaps this was the end of the line. Toddlers screech in public. Children refuse to eat the meal you prepared and throw it on the floor. Kids get sick and you miss too much work. You worry that you are doing something wrong and that each parenting choice is going to ruin them for life. I can blog silly anecdotes about my toddler and gloss over the day-to-day grind because it’s frustratingly hard to be a parent. So, why do it again?
Because it is incredibly rewarding too. Last night, Bennett heard music playing and started dancing in circles. He mumbled a few indecipherable phrases and then spouted off “orange,” clear as day. He bumped his head during a tantrum, but then stumbled to his mom and wanted his head rubbed. His face lights up when he sees an airplane in the sky or a bubble pop. Watching him learn something new is one my favorite parts about being his mom. He will grow tall and smart and hopefully kind. The little things won’t impress him much one day. The idea that that I might only get to witness that once is heartbreaking. There is no doubt that must play a part in the decision to repeat parenting mistakes.
And the decision for more isn’t only a decision for parents. A boy needs a playmate. It’s more than sharing toys or sharing a bathroom. It’s growing up and getting old with someone who shares your history, your family, your grandma’s recipes. When I was pregnant with Bennett, I saw a little girl at a pool alone. My heart hurt for her as she threw a ball back and forth to herself and watched other kids swimming together. One day, Bennett may find himself playing alone on vacation too because the choice isn’t always ours to make. It’s hard for me to imagine because I never had to worry about being lonely on vacation or bored on the weekend. As I get older and my parents get older it is comforting to know that I have someone to share family responsibilities. It was a decision that my parents made for me and for themselves. They just didn’t have as difficult a choice because they were blessed with a perfect kid.