Whenever I’m asked if I would have a third child, I usually laugh it off and say that I couldn’t handle another one, but that’s a lie.
The truth about why I will remain a mom of two is a multi-headed Hydra; I am too old, too tired; too angry; and too selfish to have another child. Imagine sharing that with someone, even another mother.
There would be the usual, “Why, I was 35 when I had my last baby. If I can do it, you can!” Or, “Oh, the sleeplessness passes quickly. They’ll be toddlers before you know it.” And then there’s the most useless platitude of all, “You are a great mother. You could handle one more.”
No, I really can’t. But, how can you argue that with someone? Especially if they don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
When I was pregnant with my other babies, I struggled with gestational diabetes, hip pain that felt like dysplasia, and cankles that would make Dumbo say, “Whoa.” I will be 35 in a scant two months, which means I get all of the above, and it throws me into a whole poopstorm of risk. I really don’t want to be a beached whale worrying for nine months about how many problems my unborn child could have.
And here is where part of the selfishness comes in. I successfully avoided varicose veins and stretch marks in my pregnancies, and I have managed to lose all of my pregnancy weight. Honestly, I fear that I won’t be able to dodge the bullet again and all of my hard work will all go to waste. I am not Victoria Beckham, and I will not snap back to a model-perfect body moments after having a baby.
“But, once you hold that beautiful baby, you won’t care about the weight or stretch marks,” some moms would say. Yes, I will remember. I have struggled with my body image for as long as my memory holds. Cute babies do not counteract that. They only distract me until I look in the mirror and see my puke covered body.
As every new parent knows, puke is the least of my worries. I would have to deal with leaky boobs, Tucks tacos, a three-inch layer of grease in my hair, and wearing the kid’s blowouts.
Then there is the sheer exhaustion associated with newborns. As it stands, I am ready to pass out before the kids do, and when I do fall asleep, I am a LOG for seven hours. Get up every two hours? Oh, hell no.
“But your husband can help,” I can hear someone say. No, he can’t. I am the food source, and I don’t produce enough to pump and nurse.
Plus, do you know what kind of bitch I am when I’m exhausted? Or, when I am stressed out? My poor children have been on the receiving end of my outdoor voice more than once. Actually, it’s every morning when I am trying to get them to brush their teeth, put on their shoes, and move faster than a snail in reverse. It’s also when they’re fighting, not listening, or being general punks.
Not only would the newborn face a lifetime of me yelling in its face, but the kids would remember me as a bitter old woman, too stressed out to function as a loving mother. While becoming Mommy Dearest would give them plenty of fodder for a tell-all memoir, I’d much rather be remembered as a bumbling mom who tried her best, and gave them just enough neurotic behavior to be funny.
Speaking of funny, I have discovered that I am a witty little writer. Blogging has become very important to me. It’s not an escape; it’s a source of energy. It feeds my soul and makes me feel like something more than a wife and mother.
“But, what’s wrong with being a mother?” Nothing at all. It has enriched my life beyond description. But, I am a multi-dimensional being with needs beyond making sure the tiny humans in the house are wearing pants.
So, when do I find time for writing when I am nothing but a mother? Do I type as I breastfeed and miss out on bonding? Or, do I write in the two hours between baby sleep cycles, becoming even more of a zombie than normal? Or, how about when the kids need help with their homework?
“You’ll find a way to make it work. It all balances out in the end,” I will hear. Maybe it’s true. Or, maybe I will get everything done and it will be even more half-assed than it already is.
Can I honestly say to my husband, “Thanks for the support, but I need to write/nap/shower. Can you sacrifice a doctor’s appointment or fixing that leaky sink I’ve been nagging you to take care of?”
No. Something has got to give, and it will be me. And I don’t want it to be me. Instead of taking on added responsibility, I will take pains to avoid it. I will give my children the attention they deserve, my husband support when he needs it, and my writing the involvement I need to make me happy. If that means facing the judgment of mankind, so be it. Bring it on, you sanctimonious bastards. I tackled the mountain of laundry, and I got seven hours of sleep. I am ready for you.