My three year old son is a maniac - and I love him to death for it. Four years ago when my wife and I learned we were expecting our first child, we weren't jumping up and down for joy. We didn't plan for it, and felt our new blessing couldn't have come at more trying time in our relationship. We did what most couples do when they find themselves in that all too familiar place - we accepted our responsibilities and made the best of it.
Our post child world is a far cry from the restaurant exploring, bar tasting, shopping excursions, selfish television watching, lazy extended sleeping, and friends gathering days we were used to. Replaced by diaper changing, routine life scheduling, doctor visiting, nighttime Llama Llama book reading, Super Why watching, milk warming, toddler negotiating, lunch making, bath time taking, and now daily school chauffeuring.
In short - things ain't the same.
My wife grew up in a single child household. She's grown up in a world where she's only needed to tend to her own needs and follow her parent's rules. She's not very acclimated to living under a roof with multiple people who constantly need something from her in one way or another. To put it mildly - it's a challenge.
Our son is such a cool little dude. He's compassionate, caring, affectionate, expressive about his emotions, eternally curious, and would make an excellent big brother to lucky younger sibling. My wife and I want that relationship for him, we really do - but we're both hesitant to pull that trigger - and time is ticking for us.
Even before we had our little one, it was difficult for me to effectively communicate to my wife how much quality one on one and physical time I needed from her. In my mind, I never needed much. In her mind, it was an uncrossable divide. We never learned how to meet in the middle or came to an agreement about what that middle would look like. As a result, I felt consistently and purposefully neglected and she felt genuinely misunderstood at her core. Not the best foundation to start molding life in.
Today, as her and I discuss our desire to add another blessing to the house, we weigh all the factors - lifestyle we desire for our family - money - time - our personal and professional ambitions - money - time - tuition - where in the world to plant roots - our ability to be engaged parents - money - time - our own maturity levels and more. Did I mention the money and time a whole other living being requires?
I'm afraid we're already lacking in so many spaces that adding such a huge responsibility to our plates would collapse the small dysfunctional routine of normality we keep up today. I'm afraid my wife will find the load too much to stand. Just too many people under one roof who need something from her. I'm afraid she'll retreat into an extreme version of her introverted self. I'm afraid my obligation to find extra resources to provide for this growing family will prove too hard for me to carry without the fuel I need from her. I'm afraid I'll resent her retreating or lashing out. I'm afraid we're being greedy for asking for another blessing as great as our son is today. I'm afraid I'll really have put my commitment to the test, and coming from a family where my father switched out wives like long-term lease vehicles - I'm afraid even after 10 years in marriage, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Through all the conversations, counseling, therapists, late-night venting sessions, email writing, blog articles, and honest effort from both sides, we still struggle deeply with feelings of neglect and misunderstanding.
We have been separated before. With only high hopes, a genuine desire to make each other happy, and a new life on the way bringing us back together at the time.
The one reason I'm terrified of having another child is I'm afraid it will ultimately lead to the end of my family.
I'm afraid at some level, one of us will give up on trying. And giving up means different things to both of us.
It terrifies me because I love the one we have so much, yet we struggle everyday as most families do through the challenges of life. We all have our limits. Many of don't know what those limits truly are. Sometimes we make decisions thinking we're stronger than we really are. I really don't want to get this one wrong. But I do want to have another child with my wife.
They say everything we truly want in life is on the other side of fear. It's simply a matter of learning to walk through your fear into your deepest desires and fulfillment.
I think they're right.