I'm slowly but surely coming to the realization that my one child is probably my only child. Acceptance of that, however, is another matter.
I guess the best way to describe it would be completely conflicted. I had a dream last week in which I realized I was pregnant. And it wasn't a "happy-family-Oh-my-God-I'm-pregnant!" dream. It was an "Oh-my-God-I'm-pregnant" dream and all of the resultant panic. One of those wake up with a pit in your stomach dreams.
So, since then, I've been trying to figure out what the fact that I'm having non-happy dreams about pregnancy means. Needless to say, procreation has been on my mind a lot lately, especially now that I'm 40 and the window for actually being able to have another child is rapidly closing.
Do I have regrets? Yes. K and I have been together for 15 years--I was 25 when we started dating (so young!). What in the hell were we waiting for? Why did we wait until I was 32 to get married and almost 36 to get pregnant? Because we were having fun, I know. We were young and enjoying our lives. And I don't regret a minute of it. Except....
Except, now I'm 40. And even if I was dying to have a child, right this minute, which I don't know that I am, I'd be looking at being 60 before my second child graduates from high school. And I'm not sure I'm up for that. I'm officially old, in the sense that I can count on two hands the number of times I've stayed up past 1:00 a.m. in 2009. I can count on three fingers the number of times I've stayed up even later than that. It's freaking exhausting taking care of a pre-schooler, I must say.
And then, there's the fact that I'm a restaurant widow and am married to someone who's not at home as often as I'd like, and even when he is home, is usually exhausted. I'm tired of traveling everywhere as a single mother, of being a single mother 3-4 nights a week, of spending holidays as a single mother, of trying to come up with ways to entertain a four-year-old, by myself, on a limited budget, every single weekend.
And then, there's the fact that we're stretching ourselves to our very limit, budget-wise, in making sure that Emmeline goes to a decent school. Not even a great school. Just a decent one. So even if I were dying for another child right now, we'd have to really figure something out financially to have one.
And finally, there's the fact that my daughter is all I could have asked for. She's beautiful, she's smart, she's stubborn, and she's sensitive. (Not that I'm biased or anything.) The three of us make a wonderful family, and I'm damn lucky to have her.
So, that's it, right? I'm done having children. We are officially the parents of an only child.
But then....I think about how close my sister and I are, and I want that for my child. We fought like cats and dogs, to the point where we pretty much hated each other, until we were in our 20s. But then, my sister and I became the best of friends, and I love that I have someone there to commiserate with--someone who knows exactly what I'm going through, because she was there, too.
And then, I think about the fact that I was already middle-aged when we had E, and her chances of having me around for a meaningful portion of her life (say, into her 40s or 50s) are already not great. Do I really want to go off and leave her with no siblings when K and I die?
And then, I think about all of the baby clothes that I have in the attic, just waiting for another little girl.
And then, I think about the little boy I've never had.
And then, I think about all of the things I miss--the absolute adoration you feel when they place your baby in your arms for the first time. The way she (or he) looks at you with complete and total love. The first smile. The first laugh. The first everything. Baby smells. Baby gurgles. Baby coos. The weight of a completely content, completely asleep baby in your arms--is there anything like that in the world?
I miss those things. But do I miss them enough? All I know at this point is that I still miss them enough to not yet be able to completely set aside that possibility, just yet....