I suppose it’s only natural for the enthusiasm for our kids to diminish upon each birth. I’m supposing waning enthusiasm is natural because if it’s not then I’m a very, very bad parent and have just shown my hand to all of you. When I say this thing about my lack of enthusiasm, I don’t mean to imply that I love the fourth any less than the first, because that is not the case whatsoever. What I’m talking about is the smaller (if at all) baby photo book of the second, third, fourth. I’m talking about the hand-me-downs, whether stained or not, the devil-may-care attitude when it comes to food scavenged from the floor or even baby-proofing the house for that last arrival. When the first was born, everything was new. Though we knew there were babies being born all across the city, even down the hall from us at the same time, it was as though C was the only birth happening in the world. When we brought him home it was to a world of safety and 24/7 observation. There were copious photos taken, we took a picture of him in the arms of everyone who walked through our front door. And they walked through our front door in droves to see this, our first child. By the time GK came along, we found ourselves weighing the size of the possible choking hazard she’d just picked up against the possibility of missing what Tony Soprano was about to impress upon Pauly Walnuts. Does this mean we love her any less than C, or JP or S? Certainly not. Do we care if she chokes? Of course we do. But we know what we’re doing now, more than we did then, anyway. There are parts of parenting that you can never get used to, no matter how many children you have, but there are things that become second nature and routine.
I say all this to say that today is GK’s birthday. She had her first birthday party yesterday with Kristy’s family and I wasn’t here for it. I woke up sick with a stomach bug that is on its second lap around our house and felt it was more prudent for me to go downtown to my shop and lie on the couch there for the afternoon. No way I was going to share one bathroom at home with 13 other people. So I missed her first birthday party. But today we spent the day at the Chockleyblogs for Memorial Day and it turned into a small birthday party with cupcakes and mojitos. So this is how we celebrate our children’s birthdays now, whenever we get the chance. There was no theme, there was no moon bounce, there were no ponies. Yesterday, there wasn’t even me. We spent today with our friends and their kids, our extended family. It’s something we do all the time, something our children are all used to and our friends were good to include GK’s celebration in with our usual revelry. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Four years ago we were done. Finished. S had been born, we had our three kids and
there weren’t to be any more. And then I heard it again, that phrase that has changed our lives in a similar manner, though in different ways each time, “I’m pregnant.” Once we got that out of the way, we really didn’t talk about it much again for a while. We’d done this all before, we had a lot on our plate already and were supposed to be through with that part of our life. We were finished with diapers and sleepless nights and the car seat carrier thing. All of our kids could walk, and talk, and there was a light at the end of the long dark tunnel. At the end of that tunnel, I was told, there were nights out, just Kristy and me, maybe even a long weekend away together. And then GK showed up and she was beautiful and she is a good baby and it only took the first few minutes of her life before I couldn’t imagine our family without her.
People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I have four kids. A generation ago, large families were the norm, and large families were actually large – five, six, seven kids. Now four is exceptional. And maybe we are crazy for it, who knows? But I can’t picture not having any of them. Is life difficult? Sure it is. Would we have more free time, more money, more sanity without them? Probably so. Would I give any of them up for more of any of those things? Never.
Another birthday I missed was two days ago. It was my mother’s. I didn’t really miss it, I did call her a couple of times but never got a hold of her. So I want to say Happy Birthday to her and tell her I love her. I found out that day that she shares a birthday with Miles Davis. I never knew that before. Another birthday within the last week was my new niece. I hope she and her parents are doing very well. The end of May has turned into a weeklong celebration of some important people in my life and I hope they all know how much they mean to me.