To three or not to three, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous children,
or to take arms against that noble cause
Sorry not sorry...I couldn't help myself. I mean, Hamlet is my favorite tragedy, after all. ;)
Lately, everyone wants to know if we are going to have a third child. It goes something like this: "Hi, Paige, nice to meet you. I see you have two young babes. You look crazy busy and tired. Do you think you'll try for a third?"
Ok, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it's not far off. And I bet you know what I'm talking about. Let's see if you do.
If you've ever had a serious relationship, there's no doubt you've heard the question, "And when is the wedding?" And if you're married, or you've been married, there's no doubt the next question was, "When will you have kids?" And once you have your first kid (you guessed it), within weeks you're asked if you're having another. And once you have another, the inevitable interrogation continues, "So, do you think you'll have a third?"
And, since I'm stopping at two kids (Oh, no! Did I say that out loud?!), that's all I can speak to. But I'm sure the pattern progresses after each successive child, just as it did with every prior significant life event.
So, why do we do this, friends? I mean, I know I'm guilty of it, too. Why do we pry, push, dig into the lives of others when these choices are so darn personal?
Don't be fooled for a second that I'm going to give you an answer, because I have no stinking clue. These choices are incredibly individualized, and they really aren't casual conversation. But there is something about our culture, about our cravings for hot topics, about our thirst for more, that leads us to believe that these ultra-sensitive issues are our business.
Let me be the one to say it, "It's none of your business."
I don't mean to be rude. Not at all. But these choices are sometimes hard and painful and so deeply rooted. Maybe he asked me to marry him and I said I needed to wait--that surely isn't something I want to share with Mackenzie, the bartender at Pizza Press. Or maybe we physically cannot have more children, and I have a void in my life about which I am praying for peace, but I haven't found that solace just yet. Or maybe I don't want to have children at all. Regardless of the reason for my circumstances, I do not need to explain that to another parent at the park.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't have intimacy, that we shouldn't engage in genuine and thoughtful and meaningful conversations. I simply don't think that these types of questions need to be asked by casual friends and acquaintances. And, yes, I need to take a drink of my own advice cocktail.
I'm saying that, oftentimes, we need to consider others, and, frankly, ourselves.
Something I have really learned over the past year is that the capacity to have empathy for another person's situation is of the coolest things about being human. Putting ourselves in someone else's shoes only takes a little forethought before we open our mouths, before we ask our invading questions. But man, is it rewarding. I have worked on this skill tremendously recently, and not without the help of a couple powerful therapists, and some awesome friends that I have used as test subjects. (Shhhh...don't tell!) Empathy means that we consider others before ourselves. Empathy means that maybe we consider how we would feel in other's situations before we push our own agenda onto them. And the coolest thing about empathy? It doesn't require much from us, and it's free to give.
Gosh, I don't want to rant. I don't want this to be a diatribe. I'm writing this more for myself than for you. But if I need to hear it, I'll bet someone else out there does, as well.
Dan and I waited five years to have our first daughter. If you had asked us two years prior, we would have said we weren't having children. Did that make us selfish? Quite the contrary. It made us incredibly self-aware. We knew ourselves well enough at that point in our lives to say, that's not the best choice for us; we would not be good parents right now. But every time we were asked and we said that we were not going to have kids, we felt that palpable judgment. And it stung.
Clearly, that decision changed, and we now have two beautiful daughters. But ask Dan three years ago if we were having a second child and he would have said no. I would have said yes. You can see how that turned out. ;)
And here we sit, with our first baby celebrating her fourth birthday this week, and our second baby turning one at the end of the month, and everyone wants to know if we will have a third.
I'll be the one to put it in writing: We have effectively decided Not to Three.
And it's ok. It's our decision, and we are very comfortable in that choice. If you ask us, will we respond? Yes. We will politely answer and we will probably make a joke about it, because that's the type of people we are. But I'm wondering if maybe we don't need to be asked? Just like maybe I don't need to ask you about your difficult life choices? I don't know. I don't want to sound stuck-up or snotty or conservative. Because I'm so far from those things. (At least I think I am.) I'm really happy to share very personal things with people, and I believe that's the kind of vulnerability that harvests the best relationships. But there is a time and a place for everything, and maybe there's a better time than when I'm wrangling my toddler at Target telling her that she can only have one item from the Dollar Spot. One $1 item. Not that $3 crap they sneak in there, am I right?
Feeling tired and overwhelmed this week. Perhaps that came off in this post. But, as promised, you'll get honesty from me...even and especially if it comes off a little messy.
In the thick of it with you,
A FEW THINGS HELPING ME GET THROUGH THIS WEEK
My almost-four-year-old stole this from me about a week after I bought it. And, honestly, it's been perfect for her curly, fine hair. We use it after bath to help manage that mane, and with seconds, literally, her hair is super smooth and maintained.
Speaking of that almost-four-year-old, it's her birthday this Saturday. She specifically requested these and I couldn't have come up with something better myself. Hoping to keep those babes cool while we celebrate in the sun (and hopefully some shade). Also, why didn't I come up with this million-dollar idea?! (Comes in other colors, too.)
I learned one of the best ways to cool down a couple years ago. It's the most un-fancy thing ever. These lovely gems make our walks and park time more tolerable, and I love that kids can use them themselves. Plus, they are cheap enough to grab a couple and store one in the car and one in the stroller.