For a long time after we'd had Ben, we had decided we were not having anymore children. We were sure. We were positive. It was just too hard. Pre-Ben, our days were carefree and spontaneous and EASY. My husband and I were the type who really did pick up on a moment's notice and go away. We partied. We drank. We slept 'til 1:00. We'd go out after work, stay out late, watch the sunrise, go home, shower and go to work. (We did this regularly.) In the summer, when we were both off, we'd spend long lazy days at the beach and come home to pizza and wings, a rented movie, and a bedtime of 2 or 3 in the morning. We went out--a lot. We had our list of "must-see TV" (remember the days of planning your entire Thursday night around "Friends"?). We were completely and utterly irresponsible. And completely and utterly clueless. You know the phrase "youth is wasted on the young"? Well, not having children is wasted on those who don't have children. Those of us who have kids understand that it is totally impossible to appreciate the freedom of not having them until you actually do have them. But through all this we really, really, really wanted children. And the time came. And we waited for Ben...for a long time (surely that will be another post). And we were thrilled to finally have our baby. And then...well, then, we were shocked. And overwhelmed. And disoriented. And tired. And as much as we loved our little boy, we were frighteningly homesick for our old life. So we were done. One would be it for us.
And that is when the unsolicited advice, opinions, and even accusations came our way from pretty much everyone. (For the record, this excluded almost all our "near and dears"...and THAT is why you all ARE our "near and dears".) "You can't leave Ben all alone." "He will be lonely!" "He will grow up to be selfish and spoiled." "How could you do this to him?" "You have to have another baby...for Ben." I have no idea why people think it is appropriate to say these kinds of things, but they do, and they did--ALL THE TIME. Depending on the day, the person, and my mood, I'd either explain, ignore, or sarcastically lash out.
But we soon learned that one of the rules of life also applies to parenting: This, too, shall pass. And it did. Ben got easier. Life got easier. And we realized that we could, in fact, have a life (although a modified version, for sure) and have children. And so, we decided to have another one. And for all of those people out there who think people should have more children for the sake of the other children, as if you owe it to them, as if they will somehow be incomplete without siblings, let me share this Ben Moment with you. Tonight, while Ben was watching TV and Aidan was lying next to him drooling and completely rebelling against Tummy Time, Ben reached over and started caressing his little brother's head. The gesture was so genuine, so sweet, so spontaneous, that I rushed to capture it on my camera. And then I asked Ben, "Awww, Ben, do you love your little brother?" And he answered, "Yeah." And I then asked: "What do you love best about him? Tell me, Ben, what is the best part about being a big brother?" I held my breath and Ben replied, without a moment's hesitation: "Getting a skateboard for my big brother gift when he was born." And there you have it.
Fortunately, we never had another baby for Ben. We had another baby for us.