And then there are times that I write because I have to and then, God bless the blogworld, get so more so much more in return than merely the weight of the imperfect parenting lifestyle off my chest. Like wisdom from women generous and brave enough to share their own thoughts and deepest fears with someone they've never even met. And advice from real live therapists. Free! Also, the happy, happy delurking comments (Ashley! Happy_Housewife!) which to a blogger is surely the emotional equivalent of a woman believing she turned a hot gay man straight.
I read every comment four hundred times over and appreciated every one of them.
Well, except one. Which referred to the idea of being glad at stopping at one kid.
I'm sure it was intended to be cheekier or more introspective than it came across, but had the unfortunate effect of making me curl my lips inward in the way that I've been told I do when I don't like something I hear. Not because she questioned my choice, but because my superhero power of empathy kicked in. I imagined good friends, offline and online who are currently in the freakout stage of holy shit I'm breeding again, reading that comment and wincing.
And because that concern was in my head, even as I wrote the post, I want to take it on directly.
It's amazing how guilt works. Someone once said it was the most useless of all the emotions. Okay, it was New Order. But I some researchy types have said it too. Guilt achieves nothing, it's an evolutionary flaw. It doesn't really indicate a higher morality or stronger sense of virtue or more self-awareness; truly I think I could have all those things without the accompanying nausea and weepiness and Haagen Dazs binges.
So then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. Which doesn't in fact cancel out the emotion in a double negative sort of way
But - and this is essential - guilt is not the same as regret.
I don't for a minute regret having Sage, even if I'm still reconciling how to be the best mother I can to her. Even if I feel bad that my attention starved toddler doesn't get me at her beck and call any longer. To anyone in second child freak out mode, hear this now.
(Or forget me - hear those out there with three kids, or a third on the way. Hell, ask my friend with seven kids, who does it so masterfully, she makes my concerns look absolutely absurd.)
I don't want to evangelize my own choices; I could have just as easily been the the mom who stopped at one. Or as I've mentioned, the single career woman who would never have employed her uterus at all, had Nate not come along and swept me off his feet, what with his no money and his squatter apartment on Avenue C with the fruit flies in the sink and the the putrid couch salvaged from a street corner in the rain.
I can put myself in nearly anyone else's shoes and come up with a perfectly excellent rationale for whatever choices they've made. It's a blessing and a curse. (And sometimes keeps me from ordering quickly at restaurants.)
But for those of you wondering whether you take the plunge into the world of multiple kids, I can only tell you this:
There are things about it that are hard. Of course. Guilt is just the beginning.
But if you think you love your first child now, then seeing her sweetly kiss her baby sibling on the head, or proudly introduce her at the playground, or scurry into your bedroom practically upending a chair on the way simply to exclaim SHE'S CLAPPING, MOMMY! SHE'S CLAPPING! Well, those things will make you fall in love that first child even deeper than you ever thought possible.
I think I've given them both an amazing gift: Each other.
You all reminded me of that this week. Thank you.