From the when things start getting real files: I wanted to share an email exchange I had with my dear friend Julia this morning. Julia is a psychologist in Santa Cruz, married to a singer-songwriter named Nels, raising an awesome kid names Otis. We met in pre-natal yoga in Brooklyn (still the only yoga class I’ve taken—I think I have 9 sessions left on a 10 pack if anyone in Brooklyn wants it). The six of us, would have dinner on Friday nights, a little chosen family, until Julia’s work moved them across the country. We are sisters in angst. Today, Julia more than myself (I have dibs on tomorrow). I thought these angsty missives might be relatable. Lord knows I’m feeling it today.
I just got word that Otis’ old nanny share buddy is expecting a baby brother. Which makes Dahlia just about the only “Only” left in our world (minus a kid in his class here). Certainly the only Only above age 4.5. I get such a rush of feelings whenever I learn about someone being pregs. And yet still it’s not enough to move me to become so myself, though always enough to re-visit the question. I know I’m always pretty struck by it, by what I believe to be a big mixed bag of emotion.
I KNOW. My god I know. Dahlia’s two dearest dear friends were the last ones standing in the neighborhood. Suddenly each has a brand new sister. She’s the only one left, other than Otis. It’s crazy–all the data shows that only children are on the rise, but not in our orbit. She, of course, declares this unfair on a weekly basis. She wants a brother, she wants a sister, she wants someone who she imagines will be a 24/7 happy slumber party. She loves babies, she loves teaching, she loves leadership, she dotes on every younger kid she crosses paths with. If she can’t have that, she wants a dog. (We’re both allergic.) But I know how I get her love her, what she gets to have from us, and who she gets to be raised by would change. I know what it was like last night for the three of us to go out for ramen in a dimly lit new joint on Lorimer and Devoe, what fun we had. I know what it was like to snooze and read and whisper the afternoon after in bed together yesterday. I know she’s happy, and we’re happy, and this is the best shot at living our own lives on our own terms, all three of us. But I know how hard it is, and the pain of being the last ones standing. I wish you three would just move the hell back to Brooklyn so we could buck the systems in liberated happiness together.
Sadness, as if I am not getting something important that I will never have.
Jealous, as if the 2nd implies more $, time and general ability.
Inadequate, why DONT we have more $, time, etc. (relatedly, how to pay for 4 airplane seats if we stay across the country from family??)
And yeah, your feeling. what we have now is NICE. it’s just been getting better, we do fun stuff, go back to diapers?! what?! babyproofing?!
Aware that a main reason for Otis’ onliness is our general lackadaisicalicality, we never ‘planned’ our family, we just knew it was time for me to be pregnant. And by we I mean me. My body said so. But we had never (as apparently many do, decided, we shall have 2. OR we shall have 1.)
Also aware that having another would make for a ROUGH few years, followed most likely by quite a few lovely ones.
Also aware of the anxieties of pregnancy, who wants that again?? All those things that could go wrong. And we got such a good one! Could another be so amazing??
Listen, if we lived in Scandinavia… if we had great, state-sponsored child care from morning until the end of the workday, and great, state-sponsored schools, and great, state-sponsored health care… perhaps. You, in part, are facing an individual crisis in response to a structural problem. You and Nels are also unwilling to sacrifice meaningful creative work and a degree of freedom. You are also crazy about your kid and aware of risks. To me, it’s a question of really examining *why* it’s something you might want. And whether the costs are worth it. For us, it’s not: we are happy as we are, and accept the anxiety and longing as the price we pay. We own it. Allowing myself to fawn over the six month old who sat on my lap for an hour yesterday morning, feeling present with that desire, with that part of myself, allows me to handle it better. And allows me to then fully indulge my love for dahlia. I’m not going to get it both ways, and neither is she. And it’s hard to pick the less popular route, its hard to silence the voices, its hard to see hat everyone else gets to have. But its hard for them to see what you get to have, what Otis gets to have, what Nels gets to have. Now please move back to Brooklyn so we can have our Friday nights again.