Lately I've noticed a subtle but significant semantic shift in my life, one that followed a more dramatic one. When Eli was tiny, the common question was "Is he your first?" Easy question to answer. Once he reached a certain age (maybe 18 months) the question became "Is he your only one?" Also easy. Lately, the question has become (pay attention here because this is the subtlety) "Is he an only child?" A little more complex.
The reasoning behind the first question is obvious. The reasoning behind the second question, in my estimation, is that people want to know if he's an only child but he's still so little that if even if he is, he may not be destined to stay that way. But now, at almost three, the minor language change speaks volumes. The etching of his identity into the proverbial stone has begun.
It doesn't really bother me, it just gives me potloads of food for thought. These days, everything gets me thinking about Eli as an only child. I meet grown only children and study them, their comments, their thinking, their ideas. And, if I know them well enough, I ask them about it directly. I watch TV and think things like, "Well, Little Bear is an only child and he seems happy. Mother Bear doesn't play with him much, though, and Father Bear is quite serious. Little Bear must be lonely. And yet he seems happy. Thank goodness for Duck. And Cat. And the others. Who will be Eli's Duck?" (Dora used to be another only child role model but I found out recently that she has twin baby siblings. Why'd they have to go and ruin a good thing? I liked her. So spunky, that one.) So it's only natural that as people have started asking directly whether Eli is only child I have found myself mulling it over (and over and over and over). Each time I say "Yes, he is," I try it on for size. I wonder, "Will that feel natural for the next twenty years?" "How will it sound when they ask him and he says, "Yes, I am."
As you might have gathered from all of this, I'm still not pregnant. I don't expect to be. As sands through the hour glass, so are the months of our TTC. We're giving this another few months and calling it quits, and we feel pretty good about that. Soon I will be 41. At that point, a baby conceived would be exactly four years younger than Eli. More importantly, at that point, I would like to get on with my life. I think because I had always "planned" to be done having children by the time I was 40 (which then became "done getting pregnant"), my 41st birthday just seems like a nice cut-off. And, more importantly, an age difference larger than four years seems so big -- too big for us.
At first I resisted having a set cut-off (and of course I reserve the right to completely ignore it when the time comes), but I look at it as giving myself the gift of freedom: freedom to embrace what we have and make it extraordinary; freedom to stop thinking about what might be, and start celebrating (completely) what is. David would be content to stop right now. I'm not quite there. I'm almost there, and every month lately as I'm waiting to blow a few bucks for the privilege of seeing just one lonely line appear on that stick, I tell myself "Yeah, this is the last month." But then I can't quite follow through with it, and we try again. But I do think it will happen once and for all, very soon. There are too many wonderful things about raising an only child, and too many fantastic things about taking our life off hold.
So obviously this wasn't our choice at the outset, but I feel good about the fact that it's our choice now. I feel good about deciding when enough will be enough. I feel optimistic about our future as a threesome. I feel optimistic about Eli's future as an "only." Even without Dora as his animated counterpart.