On the Eleventh, and penultimate, Day of Four , I think about what makes four
We are three in our family, not four, but Curious Girl is convinced she is getting a baby sister soon. From the Tooth Fairy, no less. She is quite insistent that the Tooth Fairy brings " a real baby sister." (Wikipedia gives no hint of this power, so clearly, it's not true. I have to say, googling the tooth fairy brings up an interesting array of sites, like this one. But I digress.)
Curious Girl would love a little sister. We have a little sister around the house most days--sometimes the stuffed hippo with a Christmas hat (currently wearing one of CG's baby onesies) is pressed into service as the baby sister, sometimes it's a stuffed cat, rarely the doll, and sometimes the baby is invisible. Sometimes CG is the big sister, sometimes she is the mama, and sometimes she wants me to be the big sister along with her, or to play mama to her and the baby. Other days, CG is the big sister while baby sister is out at school or the babysitters. And in all this play, Curious Girl is invariably solicitous, generous and creative. She feeds baby, takes baby to the doctor, transforms herself into a surgeon to place a feeding tube in baby, or stays with the baby the whole time while some unfortunate task must be completed. It's great.
Politica and I didn't go into our adoption intending to have one child, or any particular number of children. We'd thought about adopting two at once, very briefly, and decided that was not a good move for the children who would be involved. But we never had a vision of how our family would be sized. We each have small families (one sibling each); I'm close to my sister, but Politica's relationship with her sister is really an argument for having only one child. This is an argument that doesn't have much cultural credibility; as soon as Curious Girl turned two, people started asking when we were going to adopt again, or when she would have a sibling. (Some of those conversations have included lectures on the Importance of Siblings or the Problems of the Only Child, which I appreciate about as much as all the advice I ever got from relative strangers telling me my child would eat when she was hungry enough. Thanks, no.)
We've thought about siblings for Curious Girl, other children for us. It's tempting. Parenting Curious Girl is one of the very best parts of my life. I love the family we have become and the way all three of us come to know each other. I love the Politica I am coming to know in this family, and I like myself these days. Part of it is maturity, part of it is effective therapy in my thirties, but a lot of it is parenting. I love it. So it's tempting to do it some more, again.
But I don't think that's in the cards. When I write down or talk about the reasons, it sounds so cold and calculating. But basically, it boils down to the fact that I like the family we have. We're busy, but not too busy. Politica and I work, and I like that we work. We have time for Curious Girl, and I like that, too. We have a pretty good balance between all of us, and it works.
When I try to explain the specifics more, I fear that I sound like I'm saying "I just don't want to cut back on my work to have another child." The truth is, I don't want to cut back on my work. I like that Politica and I each have our own health insurance, each have our own independent paycheck. That makes our family more secure, espeically given the hazy legal standings our relationship has here. But it's not just the money, it's the pleasure of my career. I like what I do, and I think it makes a small bit of difference in the world. I like what it gives me. I also like my CG-days, the day I have spent home with her since I went back to work after her first 9 months home. I like being home, I like being at work.
But it's hard to be firm about deciding to stop. Sometimes I think if we had more money, if I were ten years younger, if Politica had fewer chronic health problems, if, if, if, perhaps I'd have another child. (And oddly, if it became possible to adopt one of CG's biological siblings, assuming there are any and are available for adoption, we'd add to the family in a heartbeat: not sure what that does to all the above arguments or my sense that families are chosen, but there it is.) But if, if, if....then I'd be a different person. I wouldn't be me, here, now.
And for all the reasons that it may be good for Curious Girl to have a sibling, it is also good for her to have a balanced, happy family as she grows.
And so for now, we are three, with a fourth joining us in play. I think we'll stay that way, and most days, I'm so sure that's the way to be. Some days, I'm sad about that; some days, I'm not sure. And maybe that's the way of it, that no matter how many children we have, there's a sense that perhaps one more might be fun. I've read a lot of posts about people who wanted another child and couldn't have one, and fewer posts about how people know when their families are done growing. I'm not sure I'm explaining our choices very well here, but I hope to hear a few more stories from others. How do you know when the family is the right size?