Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You Get What You Need

I'm an only child.  I was the only kid I knew who came home from the last day of school, went to her room and cried because she would miss her friends and be bored and lonely over the summer.

Living in a very quiet and calm household in which I was permitted to make neither mess nor noise, I grew into a socially awkward adult who is unable to handle the sort of chaos that most parents take as part and parcel of raising children.  I will never have actual blood-related nieces or nephews or the cradle to grave relationship of a sister or brother.  I have cousins ranging from close to distant in geography and relationship, and a friend who has blessed me with girls who call me Aunt Terrie, but I can only speculate that this is not the same as having a sibling with whom I could have shared hand me downs, chickenpox, knock down drag out fights and the eventual revelation that our childhoods were deeply dysfunctional.  Instead, it was me against my mom in the war to save my sanity, with my poor father as a helpless bystander observing the battles.  I think I won, but the war may have taken less than 35 years if I'd had an ally.

Because of all of this I decided in my late teens that I would have at least two children.  This, as with most of my early parenting decisions, was not based entirely on what I felt was right or wrong for myself, my child or my family, but more driven by the fierce desire to do everything the opposite of how mom did it.  What would Carol do?  Ok...do something else.

My mom was 23 when I was born.  Back then (in the olden days, before fire was discovered) women got married more often than not right out of high school.  So my mother was not only unconventional in almost every way, she was also quite a bit older than most of my friend's parents.  I decided I wasn't going to be old when I had my kids. I would get it over with at a young age so I could be the cool mom.

Yeah...so I had The Boy when I was 30.  While it is far more common now for a woman to wait until her career is stable to have a child, I am still one of the older moms in the room at most events.  And I am far from cool. Oh well, sh*t happens.

So I found myself at 30, with a newborn and a fresh c-section scar, with a husband who refused to take off work to help me, hemorrhaging because I was trying to do laundry and dishes and hoist around a 10 1/2 lb newborn.  I loved my baby every bit as much as any mother, but I came away from the experience with a very dim view on the process of bringing a new life into this world.  I felt very alone.  Well, because I pretty much was.  And I was terrified by the prospect of doing it again, equally alone, taking care of not only a newborn but also a toddler.  

I found excuse after excuse not to get pregnant again.  The magazines were saying that it was good to wait four years to reduce sibling rivalry.  I didn't want two in diapers at once. I needed to lose weight.

So when The Boy was 4 and I was at what Weight Watchers had determined to be my goal weight, I woke up one morning, stared at the ceiling and said to myself  "Self....you have no more excuses. I guess you have to get it over with and get pregnant again".....and I laid there and cried for about an hour until The Boy got up.  

At some point during my dissolution into a puddle of snot and self-pity, it occurred to me that this may not be the best mindset with which to undertake this adventure.  I called my best friend and said "I want to run something by you....I think maybe I don't want to have another kid".  She said "I was wondering when you were going to figure that out".

So I didn't.  It took a while to get my ex over it.  There were fights.  He was very disappointed in me.  But nine months later when he lost his job I don't think it was necessary for me to say "I told you so".  And six years after that when we got divorced it was one less life to shatter.

In the immortal words of Mick Jagger, "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need."  And I try to approach life with that attitude as often as possible.

So yesterday when I was putting my shoes on, ready to head out the door to meet The Guy for a day together that would involve a movie, a baseball game and dinner out, on a 95 degree day, I took it in stride when he called to tell me that his back was out.  I've been trying to get over a sinus infection and constant running and lack of sleep has not been aiding the antibiotics in their mission to make me well.  I spent my Memorial day snuggled up next to my guy on the couch, watching movies and the game from the air conditioned comfort of his living room.  We spent some time, side by side, each of us on our laptops, doing some productive and some goofy stuff.  We talked a lot.  About, among other things, our common upbringings without siblings. We played with his cats.  We relaxed.  It was quiet, it was peaceful, and it was wonderful.  

You get what you need.

Today's lunch: Chicken pot pie soup.  I'll save you the picture.  It was kinda gross.  Just because it has pie in the name does not make it good.

And now...a little awesomeness in the form of Hugh Laurie singing.

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