The Greatest Gift
It’s Friday at 5pm. Mary Clare, 19 month old destroyer, has sufficiently destructed the first floor of our home.
“Were you robbed?”
“Oh no, we just have children.”
I’m sitting in my spot, THE spot. That spot on the couch that is totally indented by my butt. It’s where I sit when I feed my babies, and in the last 18 months I’ve done a whole lot of that.
Mary Clare has left a minefield of Cheerios and Fisher Price Little People in her wake. Lest we forget the fresh box of tissues that she’s happily emptied while proclaiming, “more!” And my buns are nestled warmly where they often find themselves, in my spot, burping Bobby. Again? I’m thinking, didn’t I just feed this kid? Incidentally, kids need to be fed multiple times a day, every day. Just know that before you sign up for parenthood. Oh and now Bobby’s asleep.
Mary Clare is happily playing with her salad spinner, taking her Disney princesses for a spin. (We love non-toy toys up in this B). I’m kind of zoned out, going through the motions while looking down the barrel of solo bedtime for the 4th night in a row. Such is when your husband works his tail off outside the home. Meanwhile, it feels like all my tail does these days is make indents in couch cushions.
I snap out of my trance. Mary Clare has sustained some minor injury, as she does every couple of minutes. The work of a toddler: see something, fiddle around with it, stand on it, attempt to jump on it, fall, cry. Repeat. She’s shout-crying “mama, mama, mama” as she walks my way. I open my arms and she climbs up onto my lap, laying her head on my chest. Her cries slowly turn to whimpers, “mama, mama, mama.” Bobby is nestled up in my other arm. Sniffling, Mary Clare lifts her head and a smile spreads across her face. “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, cutie Bobby,” she says as she giggles. She reaches out and touches his head, gently (a rare occurrence these days). She gingerly pushes off of me to get closer to her brother. “Yuv you, Bobby cutie.” She plants the softest kiss on his tiny head, giggling all the while. My heart implodes. This mundane, ever so typical moment, ended up being a big moment for me.
I had always wanted a big family, like 4 or 5 kids. Then I had Mary Clare, and with it postpartum depression and anxiety. So with a newborn and serious mental health issues, I promptly decided I was done. One and done. When I said it, Rob nodded and smiled (and silently knew better).
The decision to have more children after having postpartum depression and anxiety is often fraught with indecision and fear. I’ve spoken to many women about it. The fear of suffering from those struggles again is frightening and for many women the reason they choose to not have more children. I believe making this decision is brave and shows great strength. Whatever the decision is, it is the mother’s to make.
For me, time passed and I reconsidered the one and done decision. I always went back to how important my relationship with my brothers is to me. I feel so connected to my brothers, and I wanted that for Mary Clare. Rob agreed. Before we know it, I had baby fever and was pregnant again. With the pregnancy and birth of Bobby came mental health relapses and new challenges. I often told myself, I would never get pregnant again, and even at times, had second thoughts, like - what was I thinking? I cannot handle this! My mind can play some nasty tricks. I continued to work hard to get well through all the challenges that came with growing our family.
People often told me that the best gift I could ever give Mary Clare was a siblinbg. I believed it but for the first time, on this day, I lived it. The gift of a sibling. I saw the connection between my children. I was able to witness that his presence seemed to make her happy, seemed to take away from the upset she was feeling. There has been no greater joy in my life to date.
A day will come when I won’t be there to ease the pain and heartache my children will feel. That’s why we give them siblings. Today, I am certain that everything is unfolding as it should. I thought having Mary Clare was the best thing I ever did until I had Bobby. Now I know, having both of them is the very best thing I’ll ever do in this life.