I'm a little confused when I am asked this. You'd think I had just expressed my deepest desire to undergo an unmedicated root canal - or contract a sexually transmitted disease.
I tell them how much my husband and I love kids and love being parents and how my family has discussed this at length and decided this is would be a great thing. Most people accept this and express that they are happy or excited for us. Others, however, seem to feel the need to "educate" us with disparaging comments: "Oh, but kids are so stressful. They are so expensive. It's a lot of work!"
Mostly we get a lot of eyerolling and head shaking. Fortunately no one has asked if I think I can handle it.
I have four children already. The "Oh my gosh, you're crazy!" - or people shaking their heads in incomprehension is not a new reaction to us, given that all of our children were preplanned and announced before conception. My husband and I were extremely young parents, so we have heard this with every one of our kids. I suppose it is one that those with larger families all have to deal with.
What surprises me about these reactions are two things. First, yes, I already have four children. Therefore I know perfectly well what having another will be like. I am well versed in midnight feedings, frequent diaper changes, sore nipples, and the inconsolable crying of a tiny little person who is uncomfortable or miserable and cannot tell me why. I understand this will mean less free time for myself. I understand this will mean another mouth to feed, another child to clothe and house and be financially responsible for. I get it, ok?
The other thing that surprises me is how quickly and how easily people seem to forget their pride and love for their own child/children when confronted with the idea of someone elses prospective new child. I know parenting can be a difficult job. It can sometimes strain a marriage. It can take us to our limits, cause us to question every choice we make and bring us tremendous guilt when we screw up. But every parent I know also loves their kids like crazy and will walk to the ends of the earth to give them what they need. Every parent I know relishes in their child/children's success, their kisses, their laughter and their happiness. One of the greatest parenting perks is to be able to plant the seed of an idea and watch them take it, nourish it and make it their own.
I have, by and large, found parenting to be an incredibly positive experience. It's the biggest thing I've ever done. It's the biggest thing I could ever do! Being an artist, seamstress, cook, - even if someday I obtain fame and glory for my talents and skills, nothing I do can compare to how much joy I get out of being a mom.
- Yes, even when my 14 year old hides in his room or at his friends houses for what feels like days and I reflect on the fact that I can no longer be his best buddy. This just makes me treasure our limited time together even more and beam with pride at what a responsible and independent young man he is becoming. I make sure to tell him every so often that he can come to me and talk with me about anything under the sun and I will be loving and accepting and try to help him in anyway that I can. He smiles and nods, "I know Mom."
- Yes, even when my 12 year old is huffing at me, rolling his eyes, talking back and doing all of the normal teenage angsty crap that annoys us parents. I take deep pride when I am able to keep calm and not engage in his attempts to force an argument out of me. Oh and I just feel terrible when I do loose my cool, though I will try and remind myself that my reaction is somewhat normal and boy, does that kids love to argue! In fact, I secretly love that he argues! I'm glad he doesn't take what information he is given and do everything he is told with out question. I'm glad he can stand up for himself and even if it means a hard time, question his authority if he feels it is off base - Don't ever let 'em push you down Kid! Question everything!
- Yes, even when my five year old cries over just about anything that upsets him and I worry that when he goes to school the kids will call him names. Truth be told, he actually towers over children his own age, he has the luxury that his older brothers have enjoyed - kids tend to leave them alone. You know, don't poke the sleeping giant in the eye. The fact is he is so sensitive, he is often crushed when something doesn't go his way. But he is also a sunny and lovable boy! He can be a bit overzealous with his play, having two great big brothers who wrestle with him and teach him how to maximize his strength. But his greatest strength is how soft he can be. Last week, we were sitting in a restaurant when he pointed at a lady in a wheelchair who had no hair and was obviously quite ill and whispered to me, "Mom! She's beautiful!" I wish he hadn't whispered it!
- And yes, even when my little princess is feeling her diva groove a quite a lot and freaking out over some imagined or misproportioned insult, having a screaming fit that I was unable to diffuse. I understand her all too well and I can often see why she feels the way she does because I too am extremely sensitive and my world can fall apart if even the slightest thing is off. But I've learned to overcome this debilitating effect any negativity can cause and one of the things I look forward to most with my daughter isn't teaching her about make up or dresses and feeling pretty - it's going to be teaching her how much power she has. It will be teaching her what women can DO. It will be teaching her about the strong and passionate women who have helped mold this modern age and allow us our rightful place beside our men - not beneath them. And also, about tadpoles and frogs, rainbows, the joy of a single apple blossom, mathematics and science, and the power of language, all of the big and small wonders of this world.
When I think of having another child, I am not deluded, I know there will be parts that will be hard. But I will make the most of those trials and honor the new relationship I have the privilege of knowing.