Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why we're only having one kid



People ask me all the time when we're planning on having a second child. When I answer that we're not, I always get a barrel of questions. I feel like everyone's choice to have any number of children, from zero to 10, is a very personal decision, yet people seem to feel free to ask about our (and everyone else's, it seems!) child-choices, frequently in front of other people.

(Brief sidebar on asking people about when they're planning to have children, be it their first or fourth. You never know someone's personal situation. People who are childless might have been trying to get pregnant for years. Someone who has one child who has hit two, might be wanting a second child, but either can't conceive or may have had a miscarriage. From someone who found it difficult to get pregnant, and who struggled to cheerfully answer people's questions on when we were having a baby, please, please, please don't EVER ask someone when they're going to have a kid. Sidebar over.)

For the record, Alec and I are pretty sure we only want one child. Maybe in a few years we'll change our minds, but I think it's unlikely. Here are the reasons that we're pretty sure Eloise is going to be an only child.

1. I had a horrible childbirth experience.
2. The first six months of Eloise's life were miserable for all of us. A sad reflux baby and no sleep for anyone. We're still traumatised by it.
3. I didn't get a full night's sleep for the first 10 months of Eloise's life. She's still a bad sleeper, and wakes up a few nights a week on average. I am so. tired.
4. Alec and I feel like we are just holding everything together, with having one child. We have no idea how people manage lives with multiple children. Our respect to all parents with lots of kids! We know that we just couldn't handle it.
5. We want to spend a lot of our lives travelling, and want to take Eloise with us. The more kids you add to that, not only the more expensive it gets, but the more years you spend not being able to travel.
6. We want to give all of our attention and resources to Eloise to help her achieve her dreams. We don't feel that with multiple kids we'd be as able to do this.
7. For a very selfish, personal reason, I feel ready to get my life back on track, after spending two years pregnant and taking care of infant Eloise. I'm finding it really hard to get back into the work force after this gap and trying to take care of Eloise, so I can't even begin to imagine how much even harder it would be if I had a second kid - both because of time out from the work force, but also trying to take care of two kids and balancing work. I can't even begin to imagine how people do it. Again - my utmost respect to everyone who does! You're all super human :)
8. We both love Eloise so much it's just insane. We feel so complete as a family of three that we just have no desire to add anyone else to it. I probably should have put this as number one, as it's the absolute main reason. The other points are factors that reassure me that this is the right choice for us, but, at the end of the day, it just keeps coming back to our family feeling complete. Me, Alec and Eloise.

I constantly think about how this choice of ours will effect Eloise. I don't worry about her being bored or lonely - especially since we are living in Brooklyn, where she has friends all within walking distance. I expect it will be hardest on her being an only child when she is an adult. A lot of my friends get a great deal of support from their siblings who live nearby, helping with their kids. A lot also don't get any help from siblings living nearby, so just having a sibling doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have more help with your family later on.

The other thing is ageing parents. My number one biggest concern about having only one child is that Eloise will have to deal with Alec and I ageing and dying on her own, with no siblings to share this huge burden with. Life is so uncertain though, and you never know how things will go. While I'm a massive planner of everything possible, I don't feel like this worry of mine is worth having another child, just for this specific concern. I hope with all my heart that Eloise will find an amazing partner like I did, who will happily share her life - and all the baggage it brings - with the grace and unselfishness that Alec has brought to my life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tale of a lost lovie

Mimi

We picked up this mouse on a trip to IKEA. It was in a 99 cent bin, and we gave it to Eloise to kept her quiet while we shopped. At the checkout, we thought, "It's only 99 cents, why not let her keep the mouse!".

Fast forward six months and this mouse is now one of two toys that Eloise simply can't live without. The mouse is called "Mimi", and Eloise calls for her before going to bed every night and every nap.

Once we realised Eloise was getting so attached to this mouse, we went back to IKEA to get a back up mouse. Totally out of luck. It was only two weeks later, and all the ballerina mice were gone.

We told ourselves that we'd just be super careful so it wouldn't be an issue ...

Sadly, the worst thing possible happened - Mimi fell out of the stroller and was lost somewhere in DUMBO while Eloise was on a playdate with her babysitter. I didn't realise Mimi was missing until it was bedtime, and Eloise was calling for Mimi when I put her in the crib. I looked around for Mimi, thinking she'd be under the crib or in the living room. No. No Mimi. I felt panic rising as I searched the entire apartment - the recycling bins, our bedroom, the shoe cupboard, and the stroller. No Mimi. A flurry of texts ensued, to our sitter and my husband, who'd been watching Eloise in shifts that day. No one knew where the mouse was.

I digress. Back to bedtime, with no mouse. With a sick feeling and a huge knot in my stomach, I told Eloise that "Mimi's on holiday! you'll see her soon!", and put her in the crib. I hoped I would be wrong, and that she'd just roll over and go to sleep. Oh no. Of course not. Eloise cried for Mimi for over an hour before finally falling asleep. During the night, she woke up multiple times, asking for Mimi. It broke my heart every time that I couldn't give her the little mouse that brought her so much comfort.

In a desperate attempt to find the lost mouse, I emailed all of the Brooklyn parenting mailing lists, in hope that someone had found the mouse. "Help! Lost mouse!", "Have you seen this mouse?".

The next step was eBay, where I found the mouse alright - now $13.95 instead of 99c. What a mark-up! Clearly I was missing out on a big business opportunity that other cunning entrepreneurs had stumbled upon - re-selling IKEA toys at a 130% mark-up. GENIUS for them, irritating for me. I ordered the mouse, and emailed the seller to request rush shipping. "Please!" I begged, "Can the mouse get here any faster?". The seller helpfully offered to upgrade the shipping to get us the our new Mimi faster, but that still left me to get through the next several days with no mouse.

The next morning I considered calling IKEA and asking them if they could rip off the ballerina mouse I'd seen nailed to the wall in the kids section. The only thing that stopped me was the logistics of how I'd get to and from IKEA (it's an hours walk) in between Eloise's naps, playdates and class schedule.

Four days later, thankfully the new mouse arrived. Every day in between, Eloise asked for Mimi before bed, after waking up, and every time she walked through the door, like Mimi had magically come home after her trip away. I've never felt so relieved as I felt when I saw that four-inch mouse in our mailbox.

Lesson learned - I ordered yet another mouse from IKEA, just in case. We have new rules in place - the mouse doesn't leave the house, and no more toys that aren't easily replaced!

Why not just not replace the toy, and let her get over it, you might ask. Am I enabling her dependance on toys? Quite frankly, I don't care. I love seeing Eloise's joy in her toys. She talks to them like friends, and feeds them pretend tea and Vegemite toast. I don't want her to learn to "get over it" right now - there will be plenty of that in her life as get gets older, and I don't want her to have to learn that lesson just yet.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

I don't feel like I'm honest enough about how hard being a parent to a toddler is on a day-to-day basis. I post pretty pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and tweet cute or funny things that Eloise says or does. The reality is I love my baby girl with every ounce of my being - but some days are just. so. incredibly. hard. Physically exhausting. Mentally draining. Emotionally destroying. The good days and bad days mix with no rhyme or reason, and just when you think you've got everything under control and you're in the clear, whammo, another bad day floors you to your knees.

I'm prefacing my post with this because Mother's Day was one of those days. Alec went above and beyond to organise the perfect weekend for me. A cupcake from my favourite bakery. A surprise massage. Home-cooked lunch, and a surprise dinner at a vegan restaurant I've been dying to try. And then Eloise's two-year molars started to come in - at least, that's what we're guessing is going on. Now we're back to a whingy, not-sleeping, screaming bundle of toddler.

My Mother's Day was filled with the humbling reminder that my enjoyment of life is - for the moment at least - highly dependant on the happiness of my child. Sad baby = no-one enjoys the day.

We still tried to make the most out of it. Got out in the sun, went to a few parks, had a wonderful dinner together after Eloise went to bed. It was not the Mother's Day I would have wanted, but, then again, that's not the toddler I was given.

So here are my carefully edited photos that tell a different story about my Mother's Day.

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] 20 takes later, this was the best shot. Notice she's trying to escape?[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Bounce up and down like an idiot, and eventually you'll get a cranky toddler to smile[/caption]

[caption width="300" align="aligncenter"] The other way to get an angry toddler to smile - let them do what they want. "Walk, walk walk!" You got it, baby![/caption]