Sunday, August 3, 2008

Family planning

A friend recently asked for some advice, or guidance, or perhaps just some useful examples. She and her husband have one wonderful daughter just about E's age. They are having a difficult time deciding if they should have a second child, or count their existing blessings. Just how hard is it? she asked.

This is not the best week to ask me that question. I have a teething, screaming writher and a fake-teething, missing-her-daddy jealous-of-her-sister's-need-for-extra-attention big girl, demanding extra resources when in fact, I'm missing half my infantry to a business trip.

L can't sleep right now. I put her down to sleep last night, and she woke up 45 minutes later, just as I was ready to begin E's bedtime routine. E got to play for an extra half hour as I tried to convince L to go back to sleep. When I realized I couldn't, I brought L downstairs, put E to bed, cumulatively an hour late, and finally got L to sleep (with me) (four hours past her original bedtime).

This afternoon I put L in her crib for her nap. She awoke 20 minutes later, as I was preparing E's naptime routine. E got to stay awake an extra 30 minutes reading books while I tried to get L to sleep. When I realized I couldn't, I brought her downstairs, got E to nap, and finally got L to sleep (in bed with me again) (so I accomplished nothing today, again). Now L is asleep and it's almost E's bedtime, so I'm waiting for the insomniac circus to pull up in the driveway any minute.

An hour ago, L was screaming: from teething, from exhaustion, from overstimulation. And E was mimicking her screams at full volume, with a leering grin on her face and a giggle in her throat. But 45 minutes ago, the girls were in the bath together. And E asked if she could wash L's hair. She wet a washcloth and gently caressed her sister's head. L gave E her chipmunkiest-cheeked smile in gratitude.

These girls, they wear me out. I remember how tired I felt with one, how it already felt like I had no free time, couldn't keep up, couldn't hold on to my sanity. I don't know if two is mathematically two times as hard, but it's absolutely harder, crazier, more exhausting than one. And yet, the best answer I can give my friend is: no, I have no idea how we're going to do this. One foot in front of the other, I sometime repeat like a mantra, especially on insane days like this, and when M happens to be gone (also descriptive of today). And yet, I never regret having L. And if we had stopped with just E, I might have lived my whole life regretting, wondering. And wouldn't that be a tragedy, because for having taken the leap, look what we have:

Portrait of confirmation of a good decision

August 3, 2008

Two sisters who love each other very much, who will always have each other, and who coincidentally slept the night before in coordinating pajamas, playing together in their favorite spot on the step. The giggles let the rest of us know: what we see is a Members Only club. We're not invited. It's all theirs.
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