After last week’s blog, a friend of mine with a particularly dark sense of humor wrote me and said, “Wow. You’re going to have to spend the next five blogs discussing bunnies and the cute bunny things they do to swing the pendulum back over to the ‘light and joyful’ side.”
I’m certainly not feeling anything close to “light and joyful” these days, but I am starting to feel more like myself, and I’m definitely tired of wallowing.
I don’t know much about bunnies, frankly, besides that they are cute and fuzzy and supposedly have sex a lot, so that topic is kind of a nonstarter, but here’s something even cuter and more life-affirming: I held a coworker’s 9-week-old baby boy today, and he was dressed in a seersucker onesie smocked with frogs.
I think sometimes about having a second child –– or at least I do when I’m holding tiny baby boys in smocked seersucker onesies.
My daughter has graduated from a car seat to a booster now and is starting preschool in the fall. She tells me about her boyfriends, and when I make her mad, she tells me she will not be inviting me to her birthday party. She brushes her teeth all on her own with an obnoxious musical toothbrush that plays “You Are My Sunshine” and gets very concerned when I sing the lesser-known second verse: “Who’s crying, Mommy? Why? Why are they sad?” She thinks underpants and boogers are high comedy and that chicken nuggets are the world’s most perfect food. She dresses herself in ridiculous outfits and accessorizes them with Tinkerbell sunglasses and a Dora baseball cap.
She is, in short, absolutely perfect, everything I ever imagined.
But the days of dressing her in smocked seersucker onesies and holding her while she sleeps on my chest –– those days, for better and worse, are long-gone. The sweet-breath-and-sour-milk smell of a baby no longer clings to her: She smells like a sweaty little kid now when she comes home from school, or sometimes she smells like Doritos or peanut butter or fruit punch.
I’ve never been hugely sentimental about babies. I love kids, and I love holding other people’s babies, but actual full-time babies never did much for me. When Ruby was a baby, I wanted her to hurry up and get some personality, get interesting, become someone I could love for a reason rather than just out of maternal instinct. I have no urge whatsoever, most days, to return to the days of her early babyhood. But most days, I don’t hold tiny baby boys in smocked seersucker onesies.
I wonder about having a son, and I wonder about Ruby having a sibling. Both of those ideas are simultaneously appealing and completely foreign to me.
All I know about baby boys is that they make really cute formalwear for them (baby bow ties just completely undo me, as do baby suspenders) and that they tend to pee on you when you change their diapers. All I know about siblings is that they bicker and tattle and yet share a special bond. In other words, I’ve learned everything I know about these topics from a combination of baby-sitting, reruns of Growing Pains and the baby clothes section of Target. How can I base a decision on that?
My best friend is pregnant right now, and I have three friends with firstborns younger than Ruby who are already expecting No. 2. And I’ve somehow stalled out. Before I had a kid, I used to want four kids; after having one kid, I might be ready to stop.
My half-siblings were 20 and 22 years older than I was, so I was raised as an only child, and I know the pros and cons. On the plus side, I was comfortable around adults and was good at entertaining myself; however, I was also selfish and aloof. Even now, those traits are there, though (I like to think) muted.
I want certain aspects of my “only childhood” to exist for Ruby, and yet I want certain aspects to be different. I don’t want to push the reset button and go back to sleepless nights and spit-up and diapers, and yet I want a tiny baby in a smocked seersucker onesie. I don’t want to be pregnant again, and yet I miss nursing.
I know there’s not a much more individual and personal decision than family planning, but I’m opening it up for comments anyway: Were you an only child or one of many? Did you like it? What would you change? Are second babies really easier? How did having a second change your relationship with your first? Is it OK to have 18 Children and Counting? And how cute are baby boys in formalwear? Seriously.