Originally published 5/13/2016
Happy. Thankfully, that’s the predominant word I use to describe my son. He is 12 months of bubbly, energetic, loving happiness. He smiles when we wakes up, giggles as he lifts his chubby little arms to pick him out of his crib, and belly laughs as I snuggle into his neck while whispering my good mornings. This kid is happier than I ever could have wished for. As a mom, I consider that the ultimate success. One year down and not only have I managed to keep him alive, but somehow I’ve raised him happy. I have 17 more years (or so) to screw it up, but right now, I am bathing in the success of year one.
Once that first year is in the books, I’ve noticed that the questions for number 2 start rolling in. “When is he going to get a sibling?” “Are you trying for a girl now?” “Time for another one!” Since humor is my natural defense, my first comment back is usually, “That’s like asking someone with food poisoning when they’re planning on eating Taco Bell again.” This usually puts them off for a minute, but the question always gets my gears turning.
I’m not opposed to a second child. In fact, when I imagine my future Thanksgiving table, I see more than just my first born sitting at it. But I’m not sure when adding another bundle of baby energy into the equation is good for us. I had a lot of conflicting emotions when baby #1 was entering the world. I wasn’t sure how to meld the idea of him with the life we had created. Most people scared me with stories of never traveling, going out to eat or spending time as a couple, ever again. Despite these ominous warnings, we managed to bring our little guy into our fun bubble. And although our first year was filled with less sleep, we still traveled, went out to eat and spent time alone. Thinking about adding a second brings me right back to square one with insecurity and fear.
How do you manage the energy of a toddler when you’re sleep deprived from a newborn? How do you bond with a tiny baby when you’re first little love desperately wants some one on one time? Will I ever love another baby as much as I love my first? And although all of these questions get answered the moment a second comes along, the question I know will remain is this: How do I maintain a sense of self when I now have two little need-suckers living under my roof?
Although there is no guarantee that they will be close, I do want my son to have a sibling. It’s not even as important to me for him to have a playmate in youth (although that would be nice). But I want him to have the support and connection of a sibling later in life, when I may not be in the picture anymore. As I watch my parents age, I see how important it is for me to have my brother to lean on. I want that for my child. But the idea of having two littles during those exhausting first 12 months seems so overwhelming that I often think that I would be just fine as a family of three.
I still don’t know what the answer is for me. Millions of families have done if before me and will continue to do it after I’m gone. But as for right now? I’ll just continue enjoying my happy little man in this moment a little while longer.
What’s making me happy right now?