My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience. It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness. Sometimes I seem to myself, in my feelings toward these tiny guiltless beings, a monster of selfishness and intolerance. Their voices wear away at my nerves, their constant needs, above all their need for simplicity and patience, fill me with despair at my own failures, despair too at my fate, which is to serve a function for which I was not fitted. And I am weak sometimes with held-in rage...Sometimes another's words so better capture the wholeness of what's inside you that you are better off using them instead. This is motherhood. This is the Oh-My-God-if-you-whine-at-me-one-more-time-I-will-rip-my-hair-out BUT when-I-place-my-hand-on-your-peanut-butter-toast-scented-head-I-would-rip-the-heart-out-of-anyone-trying-to-harm-you...the bipolar dualities of parenthood. The lump in your throat while you look at your sleeping toddler and think of him, one day, leaving for college...while five hours earlier you were praying feverishly for that very day. Highs and lows. Ins and outs. Dirty and clean. Yes and no (an awful lot of no's). Given this, it's amazing anyone produces more than one child.
...And yet at other times I am melted with the sense of their helpless, charming and quite irresistible beauty - their ability to go on loving and trusting - their staunchness and decency and unselfconsciousness. I love them. But it's in the enormity and inevitability of this love that the sufferings lie.
Adrienne Rich, from her journal, 1960
And yet...we are. Yes, I am with child. Back in August, I took a test. And it came back positive. Ari enjoyed playing with the results.
After a few weeks of denial, we visited our midwife and received visual confirmation. Yeh, that's a baby in there.
Several more weeks of denial...and morning sickness, junk food, mood swings, emotional outbursts and fatigue...later, I can feel the Little One moving inside me. That's right. Tactile confirmation. I guess we're having a baby.
The truth of this situation hasn't really hit us, I believe. We are distracted by many things...an energetic and opinionated toddler, the health of our parents, a kitchen remodel, the economy, politics...all of this occasionally punctuated by strange questions, "Hey, how about Rosie?" or "Whaddya think of Judah?" or "Do you think I'll hemorrhage this time?" There are certainties that we know:
- We know April will bring changes we are not prepared for.
- I know there is a life inside of me for which I am, at this point, solely responsible.
- We know Ari needs to get into a big boy bed by March if we're to recycle this crib.
- We know it will be a logistical miracle to rearrange this little house to accommodate everyone happily.
- We know life is uncertain and the economy unstable and the where's and how's of our place this time next year are not set in stone.
- I know my stomach, and thighs, are growing a lot faster than they did the last time (hmph).
So I guess time will tell. This isn't to say we're not happy. Thrilled, even. Re-reading the above, it seems melancholy and...reluctant. But I think a better word would be introspective. Because that is what I have been these past few weeks. More and more, thinking of this life...of the possible daughter I may bring into this world, of the legacy of strong Clausen-Schwarz-Boers-Freiwald women that waits for her...of the possible son who may grace us, how to continue raising my boys in a way that benefits them and the world. And how to do that without losing your head...or your own identity. There's the question. And there's the challenge. Time will tell...