“You said this time will be different!” he said indignantly. Maybe even self-righteously.
“How? How will having another baby this time be any different? I just saw you at your wit’s end, yelling at the kids! How would having another baby have made today BETTER? We have our hands full enough as it is!”
The words stung.
But there was truth to them. The question was legitimate.
A new baby wouldn’t have. It wouldn’t have made. Today. Better.
I would have been more tired. (Is that possible?) I would have had less free hands to do more things. And there would have been another really good reason to tell kids to bring the noise level down. “The baby is sleeping!” I would have been pleading.
So what is the difference now? Now meaning, since Samuel died. Does the very rational reason that we have our hands full enough as it is mean I can simply stop wanting another child? It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to my desire to try for another baby. The practical limitations of having more kids did have an effect on our family feeling complete after our fourth. So why isn’t this sense of pragmatism having a significant impact now?
Maybe I am just different. Certainly, my expectations are different.
I know now that it was actually never possible to do this, meaning have a larger family and maintain some semblance of balance and harmony, without outside help. And that is what we had been doing. We had help from our parents who each took the kids once a week when I went to work, but otherwise, this ship was powered exclusively by yours truly and my husband. When I say “outside help”, I mean someone you hire; a cleaning lady or grocery delivery, or a nanny; whatever the current situation calls for. It means paying a guy to paint the window trim, or cut the grass on occasion. It means finding resources which help take the pressure off, allowing you to relax a bit and actually enjoy the life you have spent so much time creating.
We have never embraced this idea as a couple. We actually (mostly) enjoy our DIY approach. However, when we were expecting Samuel, our fifth child under age 8, we sponsored a nanny to come from the Philippines to help us. This idea of a live-in nanny had never ever appealed before. We had never been prepared to make the adjustments required to make it work. And the truth is, I kind of felt like for us, having a nanny would be cheating. We signed up for lots of kids after all. Being time and energy challenged was just part of the deal.
Oh how I think differently now!!
Once I got pregnant with Samuel, I knew that unless I suddenly became capable of bi-location, or auto-cloning, I would need another set of full-time hands around here. Suddenly, hiring a nanny seemed not only justifiable, but necessary. There was only so much that caffeine and extreme organization could accomplish. I finally had admitted my limit.
And that changed everything.
Claire’s presence in our lives was undeniably positive. We embraced her as family, and hoped to sponsor her child to come to Canada as soon as she have us the green light. She gave me the gift of time so that I could heal my heart. There were challenges to our arrangement, but they seemed very manageable….. to me. I had begun to feel balanced, and had started to make future plans for this first time since our baby died.
Last week, quite out of the blue, our nanny quit. It shocked us and has thrown us sideways a little. But not completely. (Most things don’t seem to be a crisis now, unless they really are.)
This was simply a momentary set-back. Yet once again, I found myself adjusting to change and re-assessing every facet of my life. But this change in circumstance has not change my desire for another child, nor has it made me want to abandon my other new-found goals. What has changed is who is going to be the person we hire to help us, not if someone is.
So how do I think this time will still be different?”
It will be different because I will not pretend that we can easily accomplish the goal of another baby or any of our other goals for that matter, without a few critical people on the payroll. No way. Just because that nanny decided to jump ship, doesn’t mean that having her hadn’t been helpful.
The fact that I get that is what is different.
The answer to that other largely rhetorical question, “How would having another baby have made today better?” is this.
A new baby wouldn’t have. Made. Today. Better. Having extra help would have made today better. Baby or no baby. And if we are blessed with one more bundle of joy, (insert hopeful prayer) without question, we will also hire another nanny. Sure, there is risk that she too might come and go, but in the end, there is always someone else willing to fill those shoes.
And now, I am happy to let them.