Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Road Not Taken*

She asks me the question on a daily basis:

“Mommy?  Can you have another baby?”
“Mommy?  Can we please have more people in our family?”
“When will a baby come out of your belly?”

Each time she asks, I feel a pang of sadness.  It is the first time I have reconsidered our decision to have one child.  I know it’s foolish to have a baby simply because Sophia asks for one. 

(She can get her own baby—in a couple decades, if she still wants one that badly.) 

Yet, I sympathize with her desire to have a sibling.  I know that she feels lonely, at times.  I watch her study larger families with longing.   I admire her gentleness with younger children, and the absence of jealousy when I pick up or make eyes at an infant.

I do love those babies. 

For one week, I allowed myself the fantasy of having another one.  I did it quietly, not sharing it with anyone.  I went deeply into it, imaging myself getting pregnant and going about my daily routine with my growing belly.  I pictured swimming daily, as I had done with Sophie.  Remembering the joy of being large and weightless in the water.  I saw Sophie delighting in the expanding reality of a sibling.  Touching my stomach, squealing when she felt a kick.

Oh no, I am crying.

I am crying because this will not happen.  Because, in my heart of hearts I do believe that we are best as a threesome.  That Sophie is enough for me.  That I am living the life that I want.

I would like to be able to walk both paths.    To divide myself.  To straddle two universes.  One in which we retain our peaceful intimacy.  Another in which there is a fourth dimension—impossible to imagine—but adding a new layer of richness to what we have. 

But I can’t.  I—we—must choose. 

I find myself trying to convince Sophie that this is the “right” choice.

“You know, Soph,” I tell her, “a baby wouldn’t be able to play with you for a long, long time.  And by the time it could, you might not be interested in playing the same games.” 

“I know mommy,” she counters, “but I would feed the baby and dress the baby and make the baby smile.  You would have to change the diapers though.  I wouldn’t do that.”

“And,” I go on, determined to find the rationale that will sway her, “just because someone is in your family, doesn’t mean that you’ll be their best friend.  Some brothers and sisters get along great, and others don’t.” 

This possibility is beyond her.  “I would LOVE a sister,” she insists. 

I cannot deter her.  But maybe the “right” thing to do is to let her feel the sadness, as I have allowed myself.  Let her live with the disappointment that life cannot be all things.

*Listen to Robert Frost read The Road Not Taken here.  

No comments: