Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Case Against...

Is it possible to overthink the question, “Should I have another child?”

I mean, making a person is a huge responsibility. It’s a gift. It’s a blessing.

It’s irreversible.

And it’s not just about me. It’s about Kevin, Sophia, and this other human being who I don’t want to find staring into a mirror when he’s fifteen saying, “I wish I never was born.”

Here are my fears:

Sophia is healthy, sweet-tempered, somnolent, engaging, book-obsessed, wide-eyed, attention-mongering child. In other words, she is the trickster-baby. The perfect first child who cons parents into having another. I’ve watched what happens: Lulled into a sense of safety, parents bear a second and are horrified to learn that the combination of their genes can also result in a sleepless, colicky, inconsolable human being who only eats chicken nuggets.

Having another child is fucking with fate. It’s getting greedy. It’s pushing the bounds of what I’m allowed to have in this lifetime. It’s asking for more when I already have everything I’ve ever wanted.

I could never give a second child the quality of attention that I’ve given Sophia: the hours I’ve spent talking, singing, and reading to her, the close scrutiny of every day of her development, the readiness with which I abandoned all other things to tend to her needs. Isn’t it always the first child whose every move is captured on film, every word recorded, every gift treasured? The second is a blurry image, an uncertain history.

I could never love another child as I do Sophia. A second child would always feel like second best. I would be forced to pretend to love this second child as much as I love my first, my attempts at equity painfully transparent, psychologically noxious.

Having a second child would create a rupture in my relationship with Sophia that can never be repaired. She will always resent her sibling, always harbor anger towards me, and always long for a time when she, and she alone, was mine.

I’m trying to maintain a fragile balance of work, couple-hood, self, and motherhood, which, on any given day appears tipped towards one of these poles, to the distress of another. One more would throw my life into chaos, forcing me to constantly decide, “Who am I going to disappoint today?”

I’ve asked parents of two to give me a reason why I should do it. They all told me they loved the second just as much as the first. No one admitted to regretting the decision. Many shared touching moments when one child empathically embraced the other.

But they’ve all said it is exponentially harder than having just one.

1 comment:

jacquie said...

Hi Melissa,
jacquie here...there are as many positives for sophia, for you, for kevin, for the grandparents and the world for having another child. try not to overthink it. As I watch my two boys struggle with and revel in the sibling relationship, part of me is glad they will have each other when we are gone. hope all is well...i know the balancing act is a tough one, but one more ball is just that...another ball.
drop me an email sometime. i miss you!