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On the best-laid plans – and moving on without them

January 15, 2011

So Christmas passed 20 days ago, and we still have a decorated pine in the hallway.

The tree isn’t dropping needles yet, and Jack is partial to playing guitar next to it in his underwear.

We say things about fire hazards, the new year, bird sanctuaries and bonfires. He says “It has to stay!”

Today I’ll introduce a sure-to-work bargaining chip – the promise of marshmallows on a stick.

This is the longest we’ve ever left the holiday trimmings out. But it’s also the first time I’ve ever started the new year without that I wish I could have Christmas back slump. And so another point goes to team Do Whatever Works for You.

*               *               *

When I wrote about the heavenly peace we found on Christmas Eve, I was forgetting about how Jack punctuated Silent Night with piercing screams over having to put the decorative gold horn, which he played like a trombone through the service, back into storage for next year’s pageant.

He didn’t forget for a second, and has asked every day for a horn.

And his dad surprised Jack and me by producing an actual trombone, off of some dusty shelf in the nether regions of our house.

So we’ve been five years in this house, and I haven’t begun to unshroud the mysteries that live in the basement.

After a stop at our county’s hazardous waste dropoff center yesterday, though, I’m a little closer – I unloaded five printers, a VCR, a modem the size of a VCR, my Honda’s original cassette player (*tear*) and a laptop battery the size of said cassette player.

But – moving on, one day at a time. Some days it’s more like one room, one new obsession, ten old cardboard boxes, or  an ancient computer accessory at a time. Either way – moving on.

*               *               *

I swear, every single woman I know has a new Baby No. Two or Three or is about to. In October, Jack started asking for one, too, and over a recent family dinner, he announced that we are “waiting for a baby.”

Well, sure – that’s one way to put it. As long as “waiting for a baby” means waiting to decide when to consider even addressing the second baby timeline. Because that’s where I am.

As a would-have-been-a journalist and a grammar and writing teacher, I love to see clear, precise, determined verbs driving an active voice. But family planning is one place where I prefer to stay passive: I don’t want to decide; I want it to be decided. You know, by fate or God or nature or something.

Amidst construction at home and frequent job changes at work, the haphazard and fortuitous have become so familiar that they’re comfortable. And from T minus nine months, everything about Jack has been a delightful surprise. So much that now I’m not sure I know how to go about it all any other way. Of course I have huge, unanswerable questions about the size of my heart and where to divide my attention (and answerable but equally difficult ones about work and money and childcare), but really, I feel comfortable with the unknowns of how we’ll manage and what it will be like. Having a baby is such a big deal that I almost can’t believe it all starts with such simple decisions. Taking it in stride is more my style. But can you even do that if you get the ball rolling on purpose?

So I’m eager to plan our weekend, our next painting project, a spring break trip and dinner next week – but I wish the big decisions could reveal themselves as casually as a surprise trombone in the basement or the Christmas tree that stays up until February.


15 Comments leave one →
  1. Amelia permalink
    January 16, 2011 12:26 am

    I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve told Drew, “I just wish it would happen, and then it would be happening, and that would be that”. For some reason, thinking about #2 is feeling like a much much bigger deal than the first go round. In my case I think it’s because I know what’s actually involved with being pregnant, birth, those first six months etc etc except this time I’ll be doing all of it with a toddler in tow. Not to compromise my chances for mother of the century or anything, but can we get a major gulp on that one? I had an easy pregnancy and an easy kiddo, and it all still seemed overwhelming, and awesome for sure, but I’m really enjoying just starting to feel normal again…16 months later. I don’t know, all of the ladies that delivered around the time that I did are starting to talk number two, but I’m listening to that and thinking about enjoying my first summer in two years that didn’t find me pregnant or nursing. Jeeze, I sound like an old stick in the mud, huh? Well I guess all of this is to say, I hear ya sister, and if we find a way to be able to get pregnant without having to actually decide that it’s time, I would totally blindly stand in that line. 🙂

  2. Amelia permalink
    January 16, 2011 12:27 am

    PS…guitar by the tree in his undies?? Priceless.

  3. January 16, 2011 4:09 am

    Ask your Magic 8 ball?

    Leslie: “Should we try for another baby?”
    Magic 8 ball: “It is decidedly so.”
    Jack: Trombone fanfare.

    And there you go. =>

  4. January 16, 2011 4:24 pm

    I always love your pictures!

    As for #2 (or whatever comes next), we plunged in right away, after #1. And I’m glad we did. I think any arrangement can work – enough years so one child can assist lovingly with the younger (and that happens, or so I hear!) or – as we did – having your children close in age so they entertain each other and become best buds.

    That does make for a longer baby blur of infancy through toddlerhood, but I’ve loved it. And I think my boys have, too.

    Good luck with whatever you decide or leave totally to chance! (It’s all good.)

  5. Sister permalink
    January 17, 2011 3:51 am

    I love the trombone, love the guitar (although at his age Jack should be wearing Superman, not boxer-briefs!), and love the new site header.

    Can I have a copy of the trombone picture? I feel like you can tell he’s smiling.

  6. January 17, 2011 9:12 pm

    Love that pic of the trombone. He has music in his blood doesn’t he?

    Sometimes the biggest decisions are best left up to fate/God. We can’t control everything can we?

  7. January 17, 2011 9:36 pm

    My first was a surprise, so when it came to planning for the second, I felt strangely out of my element. Definitely felt like I was doing it for the first time, and I have to say it’s more awkward for me that way. However, the decision to try for Number 2 was kind of an easy one for me because of my age and I’ve had a history of miscarriages so I didn’t want to spend more time postponing our eventual wish to have a second just in case it would take us time to conceive. As it were, it’s been a rather easy journey so far but that doesn’t mean we’re mentally or emotionally ready for it. Until the arrival of Thumper, I don’t think we can ever prepare ourselves with what this baby will do to and for us as a family. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see… 🙂

  8. January 18, 2011 12:11 pm

    Aha! Therein lies the life of a mother-delight, surprise, change, and uncertainty. It’s the life we live. I don’t think there is ever a good time, and the second for me was a bigger leap of faith than the first. Does that help? Maybe not. But I guess what I’m saying is sometimes you just have to jump.

    P.S. After I have said this I must admit, we are grappling with discussion of whether to have a 3rd. I would like to very much, but somehow I’m afraid he/she would really send me over the edge.

    • January 18, 2011 4:08 pm

      I feel the same way about being sent over the edge by a third. Yikes, I don’t think I could do it! Sometimes not deciding is the best way to decide, especially if a third is something you’re open to. Me, not so much.

  9. January 18, 2011 6:38 pm

    FWIW, I knew I wanted a 2nd child, so that wasn’t hard. But I wasn’t ready to contemplate conceiving said child until #1 was comfortably past age 2.

  10. January 19, 2011 12:57 am

    I think you have to wait until you’re ready. And I think you know when you’re ready. The older Mr. B got, the more I just started thinking that we needed to get his sister on board. And as hard as that first year with her was (much harder, at least in my fallacious memory, than his first year), now it is so sweet to see them together. They are good friends, companions. It really is a gift to be able to give your kid a sibling.

    But seriously, when you’re ready. For a while, everyone was having #3, and I was worried I wasn’t keeping up, because I just couldn’t IMAGINE three kids. Now, I’m over it. Two is my lucky number.

  11. January 19, 2011 2:17 am

    Oh jeez, Leslie, go and write a post that pulls at my heart strings. I’m not as scared of another baby (obviously #3 for me) as I am of handling another pregnancy and fearing another loss. At the same time, jumping into the unknown is something we’ve done with both our kids (as in no planning involved) so planning for another one? Too much to think about right now.

    When you figure out how to do this, will you tell me? I kind of need some hand holding right now.

  12. January 19, 2011 4:47 am

    That photo of Jack with his new (to him) trombone is pretty awesome. My vote is to leave the pine up until Jack’s ready to part with it. There’s magic in having a decorated tree inside, you know. 😉

    As for baby talk, I finally made our decision for us because time wouldn’t stop for me to be ready and baby #2 was going to happen one way or another. My theory is you’ll never be ready and the time will never be right…

  13. January 19, 2011 4:48 am

    I’ve had this conversation in my head. We have the one, but I always think about having another one. But like you I want it to happen for me or see a sign or something that says, Yes, you are meant to have another one. I am grappling with the same questions – if you figure it out before me, please let me know.

  14. January 23, 2011 2:14 am

    We control so little, even when we plan. Really.

    For me, deciding to have a second was easier then the first time around. But now, with two, I just cannot say yes or no to what comes next. I have no idea how to factor in all the variables. Time will tell.

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