Expand or Stand?

My wife looked up at me from her phone.  I don’t mean a normal look. It was like her “Are you really going to wear that?” look only more serious.  I looked back at her.  She looked at an email she just received.  “Somebody just asked us if we are interested in adopting another baby.”

I reached for my nitroglycerin out of reflex and started to swoon.  I had just finished wiping breakfast off the floor.  While we were out I needed to pick up spackle to patch Eli’s newest hole in the wall.  At least he was wearing a helmet.  Seriously?  Why do they put screw tops on nitro bottles.  Like when you really need it you are in the position to unscrew a cap.   The look on my wife’s face suggested that collapsing would not be appreciated.  I turned away from the light and made my way back to the issue.

We have heard this question before.  It is always an interesting.  When couples with biological children are asked if they want more children, it is meant philosophically.  It is sometimes answered with a direct yes or no, but usually there is a qualifier like, “Yes, however . . .,” or “No, unless . . .”  Few are the couples that say yes or no directly.  Even those couples walk away with an internal dialogue regarding more children.

When parents of adopted children are asked if they want more, often it means right now.  People outside the adoption community, I believe, have some feeling that the decision to adopt puts control into the hands of the adoptive family.  These families should know, yes or no if they want more children.  Once you decide yes, you want a child, sooner or later you get one while some couples trying to conceive are at the mercy of nature.  So, I believe the feeling goes, the decision for subsequent adoptions should be easily and quickly made.

The truth is, at least in this family, that the answer is far from clear or decisive.  My first reaction to the question was, “Of course not.”  We were on our way out and I was herding the boys towards the garage.  The last thing on my mind was one more set of feet to herd.

But those little feet I am herding are really cute and they are attached to little bodies and hearts that love their Mommy and Daddy and they say really cute stuff.  I shook my head.

The feet I was herding are also attached to little hands that use crayons to write on walls and break family heirlooms.  They are also attached to little mouths and little attitudes . . . but still . . .

I sighed, “When would this baby be due?” I asked.  My wife smiled.    She looked down at the email.  “Wait,” she said.  “This person has an adoptive family lined up.”  I breathed a sigh of relief.  Apparently the concerned party was simply looking for back up couples.  Makes sense.

Still . . .

We occasionally discuss having more children.  Usually it is after we have dealt with putting the boys to bed and the conversation ends with a “No way,” and a clinking of wine glasses.  Sometimes it ends with a ‘sploded fist bump.

But sometimes we actually discuss it.  We talk about how we think we are pretty good at raising kids.  I mean, so far, so good right?  Everybody seems at least somewhat well-adjusted.  Eli isn’t eating things off the floor anymore and is somewhat open to potty training.

There are the usual points about having more kids . . . midnight feedings, the lack of sleep.  I’ll tell you a secret.  I actually loved getting up in the middle of the night with my boys.  There is nothing more cool to me than picking up a crying baby and making it all better.  For a time, you are a hero.  They need you and you are there.  It is pure and it is beautiful.

This is cool while they are infants.  Infants in the middle of the night are sweet.  Three-year-olds in the middle of the night are only a little sweet.  Mostly they are irritating.  Infants cry because they need you.  Three-year-olds wake you up to explain how you have failed them.  They judge.  You have failed to ensure that they don’t pee on themselves or you have not provided adequate hydration.  Sometimes you have failed to not sleep in their spot in the big bed.  Sometimes you get to chase away monsters and make bad dreams all better . . . so there is that.

We talk about the financial aspect.  We are able to provide comfortably for our children.  Would it be as comfortable if we added another child?  College is this far off, dreaded event.  Can we dread it for another child?

Mostly we talk about how we feel that people who have the ability to be good parents at some level have the obligation to be good parents.  This is a personal feeling.  If a baby out there needs a family, deep down we feel some level of obligation.  We probably need to get over that.

I have a hard time admitting it, but I feel my biological clock ticking.  I know that sounds strange but if we do have another child, it should be now.  I mean it in the sense that at 49 I am reaching the end of my effective parenting years. As it stands now, my lack of foot speed and lateral movement are seriously impeding my ability to keep up with the boys.

If we adopted again in, say, two years our child would be graduating from high school when I am 69.  I would be a distraction.  We would get seriously tired of explaining how the old guy was actually his or her father, not grandfather.

That is about the age that people start describing you differently.  They will tell other people that they saw Curt yesterday and “You know, he looked good.  He looked really good.”  If we waited any longer I would be attending most important family events by séance.

We are also getting to the point that we can enjoy our children.  The airline moratorium is almost expired.  We are almost past the point where we can actually see fellow airline travellers mumbling prayers imploring their specific deities to make it so we don’t sit near them.  The airline thing bothers me.  I would rather listen to your child cry than have you recline into my purchased Deli Pack and knock over my digi-player.  But I digress . . .

We are at the point now we can appreciate both of our boys and the little men that they are.  Frankly it was tough to connect completely with Charlie when Eli was so young.  I know people do it all the time, but I always felt that Charlie wasn’t always getting my best.  Now both boys get all of me . . . and whatever that brings.

We decided to ask Charlie what he thought about a baby.  “No way!”, he exclaimed.  “Baby brothers are pests and pains in my butt.”  He explained that baby brothers get into his Lego’s and smell funny.  Nope, he explained, no more baby brothers.

“But I would kind of like a baby sister,” he said.

Wait.  Hold the phone.  Baby sister?  Game changer.  I looked at my wife.  “A baby girl?”  She turned and walked away from me.  I followed her.  That might be different.  Baby girls don’t smell funny, it’s been scientifically proven.  Being a baby girl’s favorite Daddy in the whole world was different that being judged by wet almost-three-year-olds at 2 a.m. for sleeping on their side of the big bed.  Maybe.

“Seriously?” my wife said.  She hugged me.  I thought about it.  No not seriously.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to know when things are just right.  I looked around me.  Things are pretty right for us.  The thought of having a daughter will always cross my mind from time to time.  I think walking my daughter down the aisle would be an incredible experience.  Of course it would be after graduate school and when she is settled in her career.  No daughter of mine will have to rely on a stinky boy to support her.   By that time I am pretty sure that I could walk that far without forgetting where I am, I mean it is a straight line.  I am pretty sure they make oxygen hoses that long.

Thanks for reading.  Look for This Side of the Diaper on Facebook.  See you soon on This Side of the Diaper.


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1 Response to Expand or Stand?

  1. mimiod says:

    Curt…..I hope you are saving these blogs to collect and publish someday. They are wonderful!

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