What’s black and white?

Nothing, apparently.

I’m ten days into my daily meditation practice and I’m still doing better, though a certain quality of sadness has settled over me. Still, this sadness is not despair, it does not overwhelm me like it used to. I’m trying to approach this feeling with curiosity instead of judgment, just like I endeavored to experience my good days last week with curiosity and not attachment. Some moments I’m better at this, others I’m pretty shitty at it.

I will say that the mindfulness meditation has helped me to approach the rest of my life with mindfulness. Instead of reacting to situations, or the way I feel about situations, I’m quietly noticing how I feel. This non-judgement gives me the space I need to prevent spiraling into a pit of despair. And avoiding that pit, I notice more about the way things actually are instead if how I SEE them to be.

One thing I’ve realized is that life is complicated. Nothing is as black and white–good and bad–as my brain likes to perceive it. Having another baby will not be a miraculous panacea, instantly solving all my problems. In fact, having another child will create way more problems than it will solve. Here are all the ways in which having a second child will make our lives harder:

  • strain in our relationship
  • (most likely) behavioral issues with Isa as she adjusts to having a sibling
  • significant financial strain (this is not to be downplayed)
  • incredible pressure on me to find a way to make $1000-$1500 a month while staying at home
  • more complicated relationships with our parents (and probably less help from them once they’d need to take two kids)
  • exhaustion
  • less personal time to write or follow other dreams
  • the possible creation of familial discord (we can’t be sure our second child will share the temperament of the rest of the family)
  • traveling (either alone or as a family) will be all but impossible (for both financial and logistical reasons) for a number of years

When you compare that list to the list or prospective positives it seems pretty clear that a rational adult would have a hard time deciding to actually have another child. Here is the (seemingly sparse) reasons we should have a baby:

  • fulfill my desire to have another child
  • give Isa a sibling
  • two children would be able to play together
  • (eventually) be able to take meds again
  • “complete” our family

All the pros are abstractly positive. Besides the improved quality of life on meds, none of the reasons for having a child will actually manifest in any measurably positive way, at least not on a day to day basis. In fact, for the first three or four years, our daily life will be way more stressful and difficult. Financially, another child will present challenges for the rest of our lives.

Looking at both these lists without attachment I find the whole thing incredibly funny. It’s ridiculous that I want another child so badly, when the reality of having one will create so much stress and discord in our family and our lives. I’m not trying to say that I shouldn’t want another child, just that another child is not a panacea, not in the least.

Of course, even these lists can’t be seen as the black and white in which they masquerade. Those positives are not guaranteed, and are only positives because I’ve deemed them so, just as the negatives aren’t all guaranteed and only negative because I’ve deemed them to be. But these lists definitely illustrate how complicated life is, how even the wonderful comes with its challenges. I would be remiss in forgetting that as I pine after a hypothetical second child.

4 responses

  1. I made that same lists exactly! Enjoy the shades of grey and live in the hope that things work out with everyone happy most of the time. You forgot to mention how much your emotions about it all matter (your being plural, all three of your emotions). There’s a lot of joy in slouching around the house with a new baby, and there’s a lot of joy in traveling with your family of three. It’s all a balancing act.

  2. When we were trying to get pregnant the first time, I vividly remember actively seeking out my friends with new babies, really spending time with them. And I remember feeling grateful for that time, because it’s really easy to get caught up in the feeling of WANTING a baby, the longing to fill your arms and neglect to remember that babies are hard work, too.

    The heart wants what it wants, and that’s OKAY. It’s also okay to remember, hey, you know, that was a lot of work, and we’re going to do it AGAIN, this time with an older sibling, which is going to make it harder.

    The reality is that it’s both. Lots of love, lots of work.

    xoxo

  3. Having a baby is just not a rational decision. You can’t look at it that way – otherwise NOBODY would have children, not since the days when they could help us on the farm. But it’s okay to still want one, despite the lack of rationality. That said, looking at these positives and negatives can be a good way to keep things in perspective.

  4. It is so true how much more complicated all of our lives will become if we’re lucky enough to have another child. The pros and cons are just that, but until the child joins our family we’ll never know those pros, and the cons may not actually be that bad…I’m so happy you have found a way to no longer be in deep despair…and it seems you have good things to blog about too….I really enjoyed this post. As someone who is struggling for number 2, I was really able to relate to this. Thank you for sharing!

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