I’m as guilty as the next person of asking a mother if/when she’s planning to have another child. We all have some inherent need to ask each other this question, even though we know everyone’s real answer is long, personal and completely dependent on the circumstance at the exact moment they’re asked. So depending on the day, I have a couple of go-to answers: “when this one sleeps, we’ll have another one.” Or, “of course we want her to have siblings, just not right now.” Or, my recent truthful favorite, “If I could give birth to a 9-month old, I’d try again right now.”
But if I’m being realllllly honest, here’s the answer:
Like everything else – but to the highest-possible degree – motherhood ebbs and flows. From one day to the next, survival mode turns to ephemeral joy. The days are strange and unpredictable, but when I think about parenthood with a birds eye view, I can easily isolate “sweet spots” in this journey. And we’re in one right now.
The sweet spots are those periods of time when things just feel good – the days that lead to weeks and even months of feeling like you’ve found a stride. During these stretches of time, the excitement of raising a child is so much bigger than the stress; and although we always remember the circumstances can and will change in the blink of an eye, we feel safe just sitting in the current for a minute.
Now here’s what’s tricky about these sweet spots: they make your mama emotions INSANE – yeah, more insane than usual. Every time we hit a stride, I go back and forth, minute-by-minute sometimes, on two adverse schools of thought:
1. Holy crap. This is SO GOOD. All I want to do is have another baby. Give me a second baby now. I’m pissed I’m not already pregnant. This would only feel better if our daughter had a sibling. Get. Me. Pregnant. Now.
2. What idiot would rock this boat? I won’t even think about having another baby right now. This is SO GOOD. All I want is to soak up every single second of this goodness while my girl is an only child. Don’t even talk to me about having another baby for two years. Better yet, don’t look at me. Thanks.
I can think of four distinct sweet spots that made this head cluster run wild:
Sweet spot number one:
Our daughter was four-months old. We turned the corner out of near death and into raising a child. We were actually sleeping (spoiler alert: the sleep didn’t last long and has never returned), and we FINALLY got the hang of nursing.
Sweet spot number two:
Our daughter was nine-months old. Not only were we raising a child, we were having FUN doing it! She was sitting but not yet mobile (pro tip: push your kids over when they start crawling to prolong this incredibly sweet but brief milestone – kidding). Most of all, she was visibly enjoying life, and we got to watch it happen every day!
Sweet spot number three:
Our daughter was fifteen-months old. She was talking up a storm, and the back-to-back-to-back… to-back colds/ear infections subsided for a minute. She was soaking up every experience and so much information in the most mind-blowing way, and we couldn’t think of a sweeter way to spend our time.
Sweet spot number four:
Our daughter turned two (this past March), and we’re still riding this wave of sweetness! With every day, she feels more and more like her own amazing self. She has a strong will, playful spirit, empathetic nature and really, she’s just a cool person. Her weird (and there’s much of it) is totally different from my and my husband’s weird. She’s just the best.
The truth is, very few questions about parenthood have easy answers; but we tend to ask them so damn casually. I’m truly never burdened or even annoyed by these questions. In fact, the simple if/when baby #2 is coming question always leads to some reflection; and that reflection typically leads me to the long-winded answer above. Parenthood from one day to the next is entirely new. For now, I sure am grateful to be the mama of one feisty toddler with enough energy for eight people.