Yesterday I acquired a loaner child for the afternoon. A good friend found himself epically ill, and his wife had a shift she couldn’t miss. So Pippin spent the afternoon with his hobbit friend Ephraim (second middle name Meriadoc), and I got a taste of life beyond the single child.
When I was pregnant and people used to ask the dumbest question ever, if I wanted a boy or a girl, I’d always answer flippantly — “Either is fine, just no twins.” It was a silly response to a silly question, but also secretly sincere. Twins terrify me. I was nervous enough about one newborn, and even now, I find myself fascinated to watch parents and caregivers contend with twins.
Inevitably, now that Pip is an elderly 13 months old, people often ask when we plan to have another. (This question is only slightly better than the first one.) I’ve been testing new flippant answers, as the sincere answer is long and waffling. We want a bigger family, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed with just one kid, and finances are tight, but we’d survive financially, and sometimes waiting till J finishes grad school feels too long. I guess it’s lucky for us that it’s out of our hands as we try to trust to God’s plans for our family.
But yesterday was a chance to test out having two kids. And it was wonderful! And terrible! First Pip showed Ephraim all his toys, and my heart melted. Then Ephraim wanted to cuddle and my heart melted again, but then Pippin started to swat him in jealousy. Then I put Pip in the Ergo and Ephraim in the stroller and wheeled around the neighborhood while Ephraim napped, and I thought, “Hey. This is doable.”
After about three hours, when I arrived somewhat disheveled at the library to interview a potential intern, it felt a little less doable, having endured two-part shriek harmonies in the car. And then the woman I was interviewing mentioned quite casually that she had five children.
TWO SETS OF TWINS, GUYS.
Basically, she is my new hero.
Last night, Ephraim returned to his parents and Pip settled down for bed, I felt proud and exhausted at something many parents manage every day, all day. Compared to those first few hard weeks of getting out the door with a new baby, dealing with two toddlers was both easier and harder. I’m guessing Baby #2 will fall somewhere in between. And I’m beginning to think someday, somehow, I’ll be able to manage it. Someday Pippin won’t be a loner child.
So, in cleaning out and consolidating the fridge today, my mom and I decided we should invent a family tradition called the Pickle Cleanse, whereby we prepare ourselves and the fridge for Thanksgiving bounty by eating out all J’s mostly-empty jars of pickles, but instead I just ate the last ginormous slab of birthday cake.
Happy to help.
I hope some day you have a kid as picky as you are.
That’s not what my mother said to me, because she’s one of the most ungrudging people in the history of the universe, but she might have.
I love catching glimpses of J’s smile in Pip’s. I love how my son’s ears are a little pointy, like my dad’s. I even love how there’s something — the curve of his cheek, maybe — that’s just a little bit like mine.
I do not love that my kid, like his mother before him, is a gagger.
When I was little, I’d stare at the food on my plate, freak over textures, gag and embarrass myself. It really wasn’t until I decided in my early 20s to go to Africa that I really buckled down and worked through my hangups, and even now, I will proudly announce to my husband after a party, “Did you see how I ate that gumbo? There was okra and shrimp!”
I don’t want this for my son. I was the kid who packed a PopTart with her sleeping bag, the little girl who melted down when she forgot her packed lunch and had to eat at the cafeteria, the teenager who didn’t do Chinese food, or Indian food, or seafood or hotdogs or a thousand other things. Seeing the same in Pip, I worry about it too much, trying out a vast array of what we call “squeezy foods,” chronicling every bite of toast that doesn’t come back up.
But then yesterday evening I was filling out an application for childcare for next fall* and came to the question, “Does your child have any conditions we should know about (allergies, medical and emotional conditions, etc.)?” And I could answer it with a swift, decisive line. Nope. Not this guy. I’m no dummy. I know it to be a great blessing to even make it to a year old without something to put to that list.
So, Pip’s a gagger. Maybe someday he’ll be embarrassed, or hungry, or frustrated, out in the big world trying not to hurt feelings and to fill his belly. Or maybe he’ll outgrow it sooner than his awkward mama.
Whatever. We’re a lucky family.
*I know. The idea of daycare really makes me woozy. We’ll see. Right now, it’s just getting on a wait list.