In just over two short months, my oldest is turning seven. Seven! How on earth did we get here so fast and why does seven seem so much older (for both him and myself) than any previous age?
Perhaps the hard-to-swallow factor is increased here because I can look back at how quickly his first seven years have gone, only to realize that in seven more, I will have a full-fledged teenager on my hands, and in seven more after that, an actual adult who is roaming the planet, carrying a gigantic piece of my heart with him wherever he goes. Those are super intimidating thoughts.
Helicopter-mothering-anxiety aside, I think the other piece of this Seven! Seven? SEVEN?! situation stems from the knowledge that my oldest is now (almost) seven, and I am very much faced with the question of am I ready, willing, and/or able to try for any more babies?
Now, motherhood comes to us in different ways and at different times in our lives. Not only is each pregnancy (or adoption or surrogacy) itself different from the others, but also, we are different from our former selves each time we embark on motherhood. Our ages, our incomes, our desire to get pregnant (or not) – none of this is fixed, no matter how much we try to plan.
And, oh my, am I a planner who thought she had this mama gig alllllll up and handled years before I even met my husband.
Because I knew my “number” – plain and simple. I knew how many kids I wanted to have (four) and when I did meet my husband and he was totally on board with that (bless him), and then we actually managed to have four babies in less than, yes, seven years, I thought I was done and done. That is, until my oldest three came to visit my newest one in the hop-e-tall (thank you, 2yo) last fall, and started asking about when we would come back again to meet another new baby and I found myself wondering the same exact thing right along with them.
OK, we all know the how part, but what?! I spent 10+ years of my life believing four was it. Just like my mom’s mom, I was going to have two girls and two boys, and I know that sounds super ridiculous because of course we have no control over any of it, much less gender, but that was my path.
Until it wasn’t.
I am now the proud and grateful mama of three boys and one girl. So is that it? Is this desire to have more some bizarre gender quest? Or does it stem from the fact that my pregnancy with my youngest was nowhere near as miserable as the first three and now that I have seen the other side, I think Heck yeah, I could do that again!?
Or is it the seven-year itch of Motherhood? The point where you stand on the brink of moving forward to all the growing up stages without ever again reverting back to changing the number of seats you require in your vehicle (much less another diaper!), or being chained to a napping schedule, or putting yourself through the physical and emotional strain that can sometimes come with pregnancy.
So many questions float around my head as I go back and forth on the daily (truth? sometimes hourly) with this itch that needs scratching or ignoring, because there is no halfway with a desire/conflict such as this.
What if the morning sickness comes back? What if something goes wrong – with me or the baby? How selfish am I to even consider trying this? What – better, who – are we missing out on if we don’t? But if we don’t, will the what ifs ever stop? How do we decide?
Please understand that I mean no disrespect to other mothers or women in writing about this, because I know some would look at my life and think I have it all. I look at my life and fully see just how blessed we have been; my heart is full of gratitude every day as a result. In addition, I have been around other mothers and women enough in my adult life to have seen them go through the absolute worst heartbreaks and struggles on their quest for motherhood, so in no way am I trying to be glib or flip in sharing my current state of What If? here. Because, ultimately, I know the answer is not up to me and my husband. How this all plays out is in the hands of a force much larger than anything I could ever imagine.
So the real question is this: am I ready, willing, and/or able to open myself to the vulnerability of walking this road to motherhood one more time? Can I handle putting one more gigantic piece of my heart into someone who is going to spend every day of his or her life growing away from me? Will I regret not at least trying if we decide “no” this time?
I still don’t know the answers to any of those questions; it’s unlikely that I will any time soon. I guess from now until then, whenever then happens to be, I will continue to give thanks for my four sweet babes while doing my best to figure out the cure for all this itching.