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4 kittens

On Mondays, I never go to work.

Posted on 2012.11.10 at 13:51
You know what's very precarious? Black and cream. At our fancy hotel last weekend, the carpet in our room was black and cream houndstooth, and it was the very model of sophistication. I did not take a photo.  But, black and cream risks looking like my childhood piano teacher's version of sophistication: treble and bass clefs and musical staffs on parchment paper.  Black paisley on cream paper from Hobby Lobby. It can go very wrong. Just because Claire Danes wore a black corduroy jumper with a cream blouse underneath in My So-Called Life does not make it look good, but cream drapes with black pom-poms would be great. If you're unsure, beep me 911 to weigh in.

On Tuesdays, I stay at home.

What sex will the new baby be, Heebie? I don't know because my insurance company is jerks. They haven't paid the bill on my last ultrasound, and so I can't schedule the new one. They must not realize how curious I am.

How pregnant do you look, Heebie? Very.  People ask me when I'm due, and I say "Not till April!" and they visibly startle. I remember with Hawaii, who was due five days before this sexless wonder, nobody knew I was pregnant until late December. (A woman in a convenience store said to her tolddler, "She's going to be a mommy! There's a baby inside there!"  That was the first time I heard anyone identify me as pregnant.)  This time my stomach muscles are like "Thank god we can stop faking that we're holding anything together. Thbbbbbbttt."

(I can feel the baby kicking. Fluttering, really, since it's still very early. That's the best thing about being pregnant.)

I don't feel nearly as alienated by being visibly pregnant as I did the first time around. I really detested the Venus Statue Archetype of Maternity that gets projected on you. "I'm tough and athletic!" I thought, "Not some swollen bearer of love eternal." Now I'm more used to it. I don't love it, but I'm stuck with it. Also I'm less tough and athletic, anyway, and more squishy.

On Wednesdays, I never feel inclined. 

Do I really want four kids? On Wednesday I thought "By the time Obama leaves office, we'll have a 7 year old, an almost-6 year old, and a 3 year old. And maybe one more." And so I thought "If we stopped at three, we'd be done with diapers at the next presidential election. Our kids would be pretty competent."  It seemed appealing. Also not being pregnant again is appealing.

Then on Thursday a student asked me if I was pregnant. I said yes. She squealed "That's so great! I'm the youngest of four and we're spaced very close together, and it was so much fun! We're all so close!" She is one of my Kosovo kids. And that is my fantasy: that four kids feels like summer camp. Like a pack, with a substantial fabric to it. Like it's worth something for them each to be a part of, just because of the mere total weight.

Couldn't three kids have that heft, that solidarity? I dunno. I sure as hell don't with my brothers. Really this is all a big pretend fantasy that I can engineer a family that does not disintegrate, as adults, as mine has. Unresolved much, Heebie? 

If we decided to have a fourth, we'd start trying before this one is very mobile. So we wouldn't yet have the full brunt of three active kids. (Because I'm on a deadline, and want to be done having kids as soon as possible.) So it feels like there's no new information to be gained between now and then, though of course that's silly. There's time to chew on it.


redfoxtailshrub at 2012-11-11 02:42 (UTC) (Link)
I have long had this weird idea in my head that the perfect number of kids (for me) is either one or four, basically for the reason you describe -- I have the idea that once you have four it is just a different dynamic, where you are part of a tribe of children with parents around, instead of just a set of complicated, fraught individual relationships. This may be (probably is) nutty, but it's the notion I've got. And there's no way at this point that we're going to have four, so...
heebie_geebie at 2012-11-15 17:19 (UTC) (Link)
I have a similar affection for only children situation! Triangles are cozy. Life seems simple (from this distance; I'm sure things arise to fill the space.) Maybe the common denominator is that both situations encourage parents just to lay off the trivial details and just relax - with 4, because that's the only option, and with 1, because there's easy frequent confirmation that things are basically going fine. (Unless they aren't.)
rebeccastob at 2012-11-11 06:19 (UTC) (Link)
I wonder about sibling dynamics - I think spacing has so much to do with that - my brother and I are 5 years apart and were not close growing up but became very close in our 20s and now are less close. P and M are so close that they end up doing everything together so far and having nannies up until now means that they didn't interact much with other kids. I think 4 sounds perfect - I wish I could order up some twins though - I would like to have 2 more that were as close or closer in age. Of course the other question is who to have them with (Eric even though we are most likely splitting up?) or maybe go the sperm bank route. Or maybe I should get some eggs frozen now for possible IVF later. Hmm...
heebie_geebie at 2012-11-15 17:24 (UTC) (Link)
Jammies would also like twins! (I find that overwhelming, though.) I am hoping # 3 and #4 will be spaced close again, though.

The HPs are really starting to bond tightly - especially in situations where they don't know the other kids, similar to M and P. And apparently they give each other big hugs at daycare when they see each other, which is adorable to hear about. (I suspect there's a slight element of showing off to peers in doling out a big hug, but who cares.)

I'm sorry to hear that things aren't working out between you and Eric! I remember you mentioning something along those lines a few months ago - I hope you're in a place where you're feeling better about the future.
brododaktula at 2012-11-15 13:41 (UTC) (Link)
I'm the oldest of four -- first three three years apart, fourth I think another 5 -- and it does give things balance, though I'm having a hard time imagining ending up with four kids in our family and a certain someone is pushing for two being more than adequate. Having a pack (or a "team," as the current two say) is so appealing to me, though. (Oh, and I think having a girl as the eldest makes a difference to some extent. I worked hard to have an individual relationship with each brother and even though we're all lousy in our own ways, I'm able to pull things together in a way that you don't seem to in your family probably because I have that history.)
heebie_geebie at 2012-11-15 17:31 (UTC) (Link)
I think, though, that your situation is not necessarily comparable in terms of generating bonding, and I partly say that because Jammies' relationship with his dad (who adopted him when he was five) is so markedly different than his dad's relationship with the biological siblings.

Jammies' situation didn't exactly lead to supertight bonding with his dad (and his siblings (of which there are indeed 4 total) are pretty close but spaced very far apart.) But Jammies' dad didn't approach parenting a new five year old with the same sort of introspection and reflection that you guys do - a lot more fear-based threats. And Jammies wasn't in an neglectful situation before - he was (and is) super close to his mom.

So I don't mean that his situation is analogous. I think what I mean is though is that you've got factors causing extra-close bonding between the girls, and a bit of resignation of control by the parents (because the first couple years of their lives are over, done, and out of your control) and those two factors might be what's appealing about the 4 kid scenario, as well.

By the way, I have strong, unsolicited opinions about Mara's mom's baby's placement. I don't know where you're at on that issue at the moment, but let me know if you want to hear me talk in all caps.
brododaktula at 2012-11-15 19:29 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I know our situation doesn't translate directly to others. I don't think one was enough, for me or for the little one, and two is great but I don't think I'd mind being outnumbered either. We'll see.

I would love to hear your all-caps opinions. I haven't actually talked to her mom yet, but I talked to our worker and said all the things I legally needed to say. Right now, we're completely in agreement that if we get a call from the hospital, we'll say yes. If the baby goes to someone in the family, we'll do what we can to be helpful supports. (And if they somehow let the baby just go home, I don't know what we'll do. Last night's shaken baby syndrome training was so scary and I do not trust her ex with a baby.)
brododaktula at 2012-11-15 19:34 (UTC) (Link)
And since someone else has mentioned this, I think there's basically zero chance her mom will think "Hey, I should get in touch with an adoption agency and make a plan for this baby to go somewhere else!" I don't think she's realistic about her options at all.
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