“Daddy, want picture rainbow” says Maximus the other day. This request was not tied to having seen a rainbow anywhere within the past 6 months, he just happened to want a picture of a rainbow at that moment. Such a simple, sweet request that took our breath away. And, I might add, a welcome antidote to the stark-raving crazy tantrum he had just a few minutes before because he didn’t want his diaper changed. How can this delicious little ukele-playing 2 & 1/2 year old summon so much rage when we are just trying to restore him to his sweet-smelling self?
The emotional ups and downs of toddlerhood are INSANE. Every time I walk past a parent in public who seems to have a peaceful toddler I wonder if only a few moments ago they too were making it clear that mommy isn’t to be hit/kicked, and if they are also waiting for the next tantrum time-bomb to go off. I can’t believe the things I used to take for granted – leaving the house, getting into the car, walking up the stairs, eating a meal, moving quickly and efficiently throughout my day. Now everything is a battle of the wills that has makes us at least a half hour late for all of our commitments. “I do self!” is the warning shot, but often actually is just a bluff that really means “I have no intention whatsoever of doing what you want me to do”. The daily battles have made me wonder who on earth ever decides to bring second child into their lives when their 1st is anywhere between 2 & 3. Do these people have a muscle for patience that I don’t? Do they have bigger hearts than I do? I have several friends with multiple children and I want to be like them, calm and rolling with the punches, not concerned that leaving the house requires military-style planning or that 4 days might roll by before they even get into the garage. I honestly fear that if we brought a second into our lives, we might never leave the house again. Or if we did, we might never make it back up the 3 flights of stairs to our apartment, forever stationed in the entry way of our building. There we would be, an exasperated, grubby pile of a family with the smallest members screaming out unrelenting demands:
“don’t want wear pants!”
“where’s my penguin?!”
“no go upstairs!”
And then I try to think about how we’d be doubling our joy and that the positive part of the equation probably only requires a few sweet things to happen each day. Like the request for a picture of a rainbow. Or today when I told him a surprise visitor was coming over who would want to give him a big hug. “And big kiss?” he said. “Yes!” I confirmed. “And nibble my toes?” wanting to understand exactly how much love would be coming his way. It’s moments like this when I think maybe I could do it, and that I probably owe it to Maximus to give him a little brother or sister. To have someone who looks like him and can relate to the adoption questions and challenges he’ll face as he gets older, to have someone to play with, to have a mentee in his “Toddlers Unite!” empowerment program. I think an adoptive parent of an only child probably feels much more guilt about not adding to their family, because I think you can argue adoptees need siblings even more.
But then I go back to thinking about how I don’t think I have double the patience. And how we’re so lucky to have such a healthy child who seems to be developing on track. And how we can give Maximus more if he’s the only one – education, travel, etc. But fast-forward 20 years; would he rather have had a better education and trips, or would he rather have had a sibling? You ask me that, growing up with an older brother who made being mean a sport, and I might have preferred the travel. You ask my husband, only child of a doting Jewish mother, and he’d have preferred the sibling. My husband definitely wants to double the fun but is willing to go with what I want.
So I wait for my epiphany. The day it strikes me like a lightening bolt what to do. Or maybe it will come in a dream and I’ll awake with a new found clarity and inner calm that all my friends with multiple children seem to have. Or maybe it will spring from another sweet moment with Maximus, like when we’re done with the last book at night and he says “Snuggle with Mommy?” Or when I get in the car with him after work and say “I missed you today” and he says “I missed you too!” Can I possibly miss having 2 pudgy little faces smiling back at me??? We’ll see.