The Push/Pull of Parenthood
It never fails.
Roxie leaves with her (usually) brushed hair floating behind her, mismatched socks on under her “rock & roll” shoes, day care bag ready to go, and a, “bye bye meatball spaghetti” yell as the door clicks closed. In her wake, there is (usually) a whirlwind of pajamas (plural), princess crowns, and tiny little ponies. Sometimes glitter.
My patience is always tested these mornings as we slowly prod our sweet toddler out the door. But the minute I turn and exhale a sigh of relief, my heart tightens. I catch my breath. It’s quiet. She’s gone. And, somehow, also: It’s quiet! She’s gone!
I’m repeatedly baffled at this. I call it the “Push/Pull of Parenthood.” I’m utterly crazy about something my kid did and utterly crazy-in-love about something my kid did, all at the same time.
Benji and I talk about it – parenting – a lot. So much talk around raising a child! It’s crazy how parenting has really grown to become this Skill you need to literally study. Except the class is all quiz/no Q&A. Being a parent makes me feel isolated and at one with the earth simultaneously. Totally content and totally restless. It’s the hardest thing and the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. Ever. How can it be all these things, all the time?
We’re currently at this point in our lives where we decide whether or not to have another kid. Society says, “Go for it! Two or more kids is the norm! Procreate!” Logic says, “No f*&king way; it’s too hard; you’ve got a good thing going, and you should just quit while you’re ahead!” And the heart…well…the heart is a sneaky beast that doesn’t share its real feelings. It ghosts around saying, “Oh, shouldn’t there be one more little pair of legs running up that hill? Don’t you want your daughter to have a sibling? To grow? To understand how to deal with another human being in her immediate proximity, pretty much all the time?”
Hormones and hearts are often confused. And always confusing. I’m going to be 35 this month, Roxie will be four this summer, and Benji…well, he doesn’t want to be 40 chasing a baby (he’s 38 this month).
So, because I’m a journalist, I’m doing research. I’ve read the book One and Only by Lauren Sandler (an only who has an only), met with (dare I say I’ve interviewed) at least three parents of only kids here in Decorah, have chatted with parents who have two or more, have googled “should I have another child” more times than I’m willing to admit (this post is great!), and I’ve brought it up to pretty much anyone who is willing to listen (“How many siblings do you have? Do you get along? Do you have kids?” Sorry grocery store checkout person, random on the street, and four-year-old at the park!). Now, finally, I’m writing about it.
And I’m hoping to write about it more as we continue trying to find the right answer for us. That last part is key! Every family is different. That said, got any advice? I welcome any and all that doesn’t make me sad-cry. Sad-cry comments will be deleted before they hit my cerebral cortex (or whatever part of my brain controls these crazy emotions…). There’s no right or wrong, for sure, and that’s part of why I’m writing about it – it’s important for you all to know that too! Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has said, “I don’t envy your decision!” If you’re in the same boat, I wish you luck!