I don’t know why it continues to surprise me when perfect strangers ask outrageously personal questions. There’s something about pregnancy and raising small children that must bring out people’s curiosity and suppress common courtesy and tact. Almost every time I’m out and about with all four kids, a stranger will comment on them and ask me their ages (I’m getting good at rattling off “5 1/2, 4, 2 1/2, and almost 5 months”). And more than likely, the next question is: “Are you done?”
Because it’s totally their business, right? Maybe I’m too sensitive about this, but when you get right down to it, these strangers are asking a pretty personal question about some pretty personal activities and the precautions being taken while doing those activities. Which, apparently, is a perfectly acceptable discussion topic for the checkout line at the grocery store with someone you just met.
The truth is, we’re not 100% sure, but on any given day, the percentage ranges from 99.99999% (when Jack throws a huge shooter marble at Max’s head while I’m trying to nurse Zachary, resulting in three screaming boys when I put the baby down to have a Super Nanny time-out battle with my ornery 2-year-old), to about 92% (when I’m out shopping and oh-so-tempting baby girl clothes weaken my resolve, especially since Gracie is graduating to the “big girls'” department, where everything seems to have some kind of naughty, attitude-related phrase emblazoned across the chest, or worse, the hiney, but I digress).
I think no matter how many kids you have, a part of you always looks longingly at that special teeny-tiny newborn time, especially the farther away you get from those first sleepless nights, not to mention the discomfort leading up to the blessed event. You look back with rose-colored baby glasses and only remember the blissful, precious, adorable parts. I guess that’s how people end up with more than one kid in the first place. But there comes a time, perhaps after almost six solid years of not sleeping through the night, that the thought of kids growing up has a certain amount of giddy joy mixed in with the sadness of lost teeny-tiny-ness: Some day I might be able to sleep? Some day they’ll all be able to wipe their own hineys? Some day they’ll be able to help wash dishes instead of just dirtying mass quantities of them? Those ideas, along with the prospect of paying to feed them and send them to college, make me think we’re in that 99% range.
An “oops” wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s not something we’re planning at this point. At some point, we’ll be ready to officially call things off and take more permanent measures, but we’re not there yet. I’ve had less than 25 months between all my pregnancies, and I don’t think I’d want to have kids any farther apart than that, so the clock is definitely ticking; once Zachary is out of diapers, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to go back. I have loved (almost) every second of the baby stage, but it’s also been interesting seeing Gracie head into this school-age stage: she’s so independent and creative, and starting to read everything she sees. I look 10 years down the road when we’ll have kids in 5th grade through high school and think how busy, full, and fun that stage will be too. as much fun as the baby phase is, there’s always something to look forward to.
For the first time, I’m almost ready to answer that question with a “yes.” After Gracie, I knew we wanted at least one more. Jack kind of snuck up on us, but he was very much wanted as well. After Jack was born, we started talking about being done, but in my heart I knew we’d probably have one more. Now, I look at our family and think it’s probably complete. I can picture the six of us going forward in the future, and not looking back with tons of longing every time I see a new baby (only a little bit of longing:I love babies, but the thought of letting someone else carry them, give birth, and get up all night long is becoming more and more appealing!)
So, that’s the long answer to that short three-word question. Perhaps I should start carrying a business card with a link to this blog entry that I can hand out at the grocery store. Wonder what the reaction would be!