So, when are you going to have the next one?” said my friend Dan yesterday, a half peeled banana in one hand.
I was standing with some friends outside of a school playground—none of us quite yet ready to face the buckles and straps waiting in our cars. Two held jiggling infants in their arms while Dan and his partner were taking turns watching their two boys playing with my four-year old on the swings.
Everyone was complaining about being tired and broke and as the only one of my friends who can actually sleep through the night and has only one daycare bill to cover every month, I suddenly felt like a complete wimp. And so of course I did the only thing a wimp could do: tried to redirect their attention to someone who doesn’t have any kids in the hopes that would make me look better.
It didn’t fool me, either.
The older I get, the more I feel myself being pressed into the two parent, two child family mold. It appears on the back of minivans and SUVs, often accompanied by matching stick dogs and fish. It is in the comments of another parent who joked about a mother overreacting to a gym fall because her child was an ‘only.’ It is in the very word ‘only’. Only half a family. Only half a mother. And it is the question that haunts me every menstrual cycle when I think this could have been a baby. If I’d wanted one.
The truth is I don’t know if I do. Children take time and so does writing. Especially novels. And just because I want to have space in my life to do the one thing that I feel most passionate about, that doesn’t make me less of a mother–‘only’ one with some different kinds of babies.