Our son has entered his toddling years so we’re starting to get the look. Parents of one know this look very well: It is the sideways glance, the hushed whisper, the wink-wink-nudge-nudge of “When are you going to have another one?”
I find the question all at once thrilling, annoying and, at times, horrifying. The idea of having a second child isn’t foreign by a long shot. But, the idea of having one now is, well, challenging. Yes, it is exciting to think about holding a baby again now that my boy is ready to roll at a moment’s notice and only willing to stop for a hug when he’s exhausted. But, seriously, this kid never stops and you want me to handle another one? Oy!
My mother is a huge advocate of waiting until our oldest is at least four before we try again. My mother-in-law is the same. Hers were three years apart and, as she recently observed, “No one reminded me I’d be paying two college tuitions at once.” A good friend agreed. “I worried about the jealousy issue,” she said of her four-year-old, “but she was so excited to help out that it’s just been great.”
Perhaps the decision if and/or when to introduce another baby into your household has less to do with the baby and more to do with the mommy. I’ve met a slew of working mothers who had no problem birthing Irish twins (born so close together that most folks think they’re literally twins) because they simply returned to work after each child was born. Sure, they pulled some all-nighters and slugged out those first few months of sleep deprivation, but when it came down to it their life was essentially the same as it had always been, only better.
Stay-at-home moms, however, were a different story. Worn thin by multiple children under 5, the ones I met were anxious to get their tubes tied to prevent any additional little stresses. Husbands who work hard so they don’t have to aren’t always around to lend a much-needed helping hand. Becoming one of these mothers is my worst nightmare.
“You’re young,” my midwife advised me at my annual checkup. “Most of the women we see are 40 and having their first baby. You have time. I had mine two years apart and even that was a lot of work. You need some time for yourself. Take it.”
One universal truth exists in all mothering circles: Every mother I’ve met has agreed that there’s never a right time to have a second baby. “Whenever it happens, it’ll all work out,” one mom of two advised with a smile. After all, that is what mothers do best: Make it all work out.
When my midwife asked how I felt, I replied, “Well, we aren’t necessarily planning on a second right now, but if it did happen we’d still be happy about it.” Right now I’m just holding onto the happy. Now, please pardon me while I pull my son away from the bathtub.