When Simeon and I decided to have our first child we went through what felt like a fairly comprehensive check-list of considerations.
Do we both want a child? Yes. An obvious question to be sure, but what if the answers were to have differed? What then? Thankfully they did not.
Are we healthy? Are we prepared physically? Yes.
Are we financially stable? Yes. Though student loans and credit card debt still loomed large in the budget and we would have loved to have been making more than the woefully underpaid non-profit salaries we were bringing in, we were both earning good enough paychecks. It felt like enough to support a family.
Are we really ready to bring home a baby? Well, to be honest, this was tricky. This question could read as a matter of whether we were emotionally ready for the changes a child would cause. But in reality, it was the technicality of the question we had to consider. We didn’t actually have a home to bring a baby to. We had quickly moved to Vermont when a job offer was made and after a couple months we still had yet to find an affordable and semi-permanent living situation. In the meantime, we had been renting a room in a home owned by friends. At least we would have nine more months to sort things out, right? But then I wavered. Should we wait until things were even more clearly settled? This was a decision we would never be able to undo. We had to be sure.
Eventually, I took solace in the advice I had heard repeated by many friends who had had children: There’s never a perfect time. You can never prepare enough to feel really ready and even if you do prepare better than anyone ever has in the history of parenting (assuming that’s a possibility) it will be futile. No one can predict what kind of temperament to expect from their newborn.
Verdict: There’s never a perfect time. And one other thing I heard said over and over, I’ve never regretted it anyhow.
So, we went for it. And when Eli was born I was not nervous or overwhelmed. I even surprised myself by how calm I was in the day-to-day experience of being a new mom. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around what a miracle it is to grow a human inside my body and expel it alive and well. And yes, I was bowled over by the enormity of the responsibility of caring for this tiny helpless human. But I took comfort knowing that every person on Earth had had a mother and whether she was a great mom, or a so-so mom, they had made it and there they were, shopping for groceries or waiting patiently at a red light. I would be ok. HMy baby would be ok.
Eli is now two years old and again I am find myself incredulous. Are we ready for another baby? And again we find ourselves asking those same questions… What about buying a more permanent home? Should we wait to have more in savings? What about our relationship with our son? Are we ready to introduce a new member to the family and disturb our little trio?
It’s not a logical decision I hear over and over again. Stop using logic to make this choice and ask with your heart instead.
In a quiet moment I find space to sit with myself. My heart beats. In the rhythm of its thumping I feel a tug. An opening. I want another child. A beat. Did I just say that? A thump. A quickening. Yes, we’re ready. We can do this. Another baby Bittman. Coming soon. Hopefully.
Th-thump. Th-thump. Th-thump…