Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Baby talk.

Warning: Long a$$ boring post that should have been posted in September, and of no use to anyone but SS.

I have always been a baby person; even the uncooked, scary ones draw my attention. P is just the opposite, he does not dislike babies, he just does not find them that interesting. It took his sister to place Baby J on his lap for him to actually pay attention to the baby. I know P’s heart, he’s not a cold hearted guy, he just does not get what the fuss is about when it comes to babies. I never worried before we met SS, because I was the only person who saw the side of him that could not wait to meet his daughter. I was the only witness to his emotional pain. It may make me come across as cold, but I do admire that P does not buck to society, and pretends every baby is the most amazing thing to ever happen in the world. On many occasions he has told me how much it annoys him that I lose concentration the minute I spot a baby. It’s not my fault I was born equipped with badar (baby radar).

There is one exception to P’s lack of interest in babies, Asian, but specifically Chinese babies (children as well). Seven years ago I was at work (once upon a time I was a productive member of society) when I received a call from a very excited P. He was visiting his grandmother M in the east coast. P was in a mall in Connecticut and excitedly told me that he saw two Chinese girls. He approached the mothers, told them we were DTC (dossier to China), and they chatted for a few minutes. The girls (and mothers) had never met before, the girls saw each other, gravitated towards each other, and just played like they had known each other forever. I listened to P, I could picture his amazing smile, his amazing blue eyes filled with joy. When we ended the conversation I walked over to Aunt C’s (SS’s godmother) desk and told her about the conversation. She was shocked that P would approach the women, especially alone. Nothing wrong with that, but she knew how painfully shy P can be at times. I could not believe it, and C said what was on my mind. She told me that if I had any doubts about P’s capacity to love SS, it was time to let them go. P was already in love with Baby S, hook, line and sinker.

P’s Chinese badar has become stronger since we met SS. I was usually the one noticing a Baby Ss (females) or Baby Ds (males) first. Now P can spot a Chinese child a mile away and something changes when that happens. P gets what I thought was a female phenomenon, the baby urge. We have fared well, because those occasions are from afar, no contact with the babies. Over time that extended to children as well. Then we attended the Chinese Moon Festival banquet last September, and I witnessed an amazing transformation. When P spots a Chinese child, the soft side of him immediately manifests itself. Now P in a room full of Chinese children was a sight to behold. Right before my eyes my husband grew an uterus, and estrogen coursed in mass quantities throughout his body. By that time we had experienced Dragon Boat practice, and there were cute Chinese kids there. But those Sundays were about practice, lunch with the group, then off to Knott’s or Soak City. No time to ponder the do we still want another one elephant in the room.

That evening led to an interesting conversation on the drive home. Up to the time we moved here we had closed the door on bringing another child home. Five years ago the plan was to settle SS home, and return a year later for her little brother. Within three months the extent of SS’s needs made us realize there was no way we could bring another child home that soon. Then finances made it clear it was not going to happen. Little did we know what 2012 had in store for us. There we were, for the first time talking about something that was impossible barely six months earlier. Cool, huh? Nothing is that easy with us.

P and I complement each other well most of the time. Then there are some areas where we do not do ourselves any favors. The first one that comes to mind is in tapering our need to pack as much sightseeing when we go somewhere. It is something we discussed while waiting for SS, we knew we had to change, and we had every intention of changing. All it takes is a look at our posts when we have traveled or are out of our area to know we failed miserably. Granted, SS is an amazing traveler, and has yet to be in a hotel room she has not liked. We just can’t help ourselves, we just want to see and do as much as possible.

We are similar on another respect, over thinking things. One thing we have in common is the belief that just because we can do something, does not mean it is OK to take the leap. We often wax philosophical about SS, our feelings for her, our hopes, our dreams. We have no idea how or why we were blessed with such an amazing child. What in the hell did we ever do to deserve the privilege to call SS our daughter? All of that remains true, but when we look at SS we see more than her tenacity, beauty, compassion, intelligence and kind heart. For all the baby urge and P’s newly grown uterus, we see much more when we look at our daughter.

We see the braces SS will certainly need. We see the possibility of private school tuition, sport fees and equipment, music lessons, vacations, travel to visit grandparents, Chinese language school fees, a college education, and whatever else costs are associated with raising a child. As much as we both want to say the hell with it, we just can’t. Because for all of our differences, P and I are the same when it comes to this life altering decision. We are not of the “God will provide” school of thought. Only we will provide for our children.

It is not only the monetary cost of an adoption and raising a child that gives us pause. We are equally concerned about the emotional cost involved. Children take an immense amount of time, especially a very sensitive child like SS. We always knew that we would not have another child until JJ reached adulthood. JJ had some issues that made parenting exhausting, another child would not have had emotionally present parents. SS is very needy, and we are still uncertain how she would deal with a younger sibling stealing the spotlight.

Right now P regrets not spending enough time with SS. Financially this job has been a God sent, including the medical coverage we now enjoy. But P no longer has a flexible schedule, and works Saturdays. His previous job had crappy pay and even crappier medical insurance, but P is grateful for the opportunity to be there for every doctor appointment, every school event. P could work at night, just to spend the day with SS. Very rarely did P work during the weekend. Now when P comes home SS is usually occupied with homework (the girl is slow), we have dinner, SS takes a bath, and there goes his father-daughter time. P has some very valid concerns about what it would be like with one more child. He believes in giving individual attention to each child, meaning each child gets their own bedtime story, alone time with us. P can’t abide assembly line parenting.

Then there’s me, and something I’m not too proud to admit. Like P, I would love to bring home a baby brother for SS. But something unexpected happened along the way. I don’t know why it is difficult to write down, maybe because it makes it real. Right now I’m content with my life. Astounding since P says I’m the most difficult person to please in this planet. I jokingly refer to my time at home as house arrest. There are days when I think I’m going to lose it, days when I terribly miss talking to another adult. Then there are the majority of days, when I am cognizant of how precious this time with SS is to us both. I’m saddened by the realization that I am selfish. Because as much as I have loved every second with my daughter, there is no way in hell I could endure another stay at home stint. I need to reenter the adult world, I need it for my sanity and self-esteem. Motherhood is a noble profession, but not one where I could be fulfilled in for the next thirteen years.

Those are the things we talked about on the drive home, and long after we placed SS in her bed. We admitted that we like having just one child at home at a time. I never would have been able to spend so many afternoons at the water park with SS, going around the lazy lagoon if we had a younger child. If we had returned to China a year after SS came home, SS would not have been able to travel to meet her relatives. If we had another child SS would have to choose between karate and soccer. If we had another child, SS would have spent more time in daycare than at home. And dear God, homework with two kids? Homework and school projects are a very effective form of contraception. That is for us, it does not seem to work as well with the rest of the population.

Around September of last year P wanted SS and I to embark on an adventure during the Christmas school break. I liked the idea, but was not thrilled about doing it without P. The idea resurfaced as a birthday present for SS. I think there is a 90% likelihood that we are going to do it. There is no way we could have afforded it with another child. Even if finances were not an issue, there is no way I would contemplate said short adventure with two children. I am responsible for 98% of SS’s daily care, as it should be, since it is my job. But when we step out of the comfort of home, I am accustomed to have my parent partner with me. It took me a while to become comfortable with the soccer games without P. I did not sign up to be a single mother, I like two teaming SS with P. I am aware that there are millions of women around the world, whether single or married, that are parenting multiple children on their own. It’s just not for me, did it with JJ, it was exhausting, not interested.

On a humorous note, we talked about not having space in the van for another child. When we brought the refrigerator or SS’s mattress home P removed the second row passenger seat from the van. He was not in a hurry to reinstall it, since it is just the three of us. If we needed seats in a pinch, we could unfold the back seats, good enough for three adults. The Dragon Boat practice began, and it was a perfect set up, plenty of space for all the things we needed. There was the DB practice gear, and there were the Knott’s/Water park needs . SS’s Hummer (bicycle trailer/stroller) takes a lot of space and it was a permanent fixture. We recently reinstalled that seat because we had to take E to school one morning. Yep, SS might be tiny, but she needs a whole van to meet her needs.

Our discussion went well into the night without resolution. Quality of life, SS’s quality of life is important to us. If SS had a younger sibling she would be sleeping in a $99 toddler bed. No amount of crying would have helped us come up with more than that. What’s the verdict? We did not reach one, we are stepping back and taking some time, allowing some distance from that honest conversation. Like I said, our like mindedness on this issue is not helping. At times like this there has to be a reticent spouse, and a let’s throw caution to the wind spouse. We will revisit the subject this summer, once SS is done with school, and we will have to make a final decision. Of course there's the advantage of SS having a sibling who is Chinese, who has had the same experiences her.  SS, regardless of the outcome, we hope you realize that you were at the forefront of our thoughts. 

And speaking of the cost of raising a child... SS scored her first visit of the year to Knott's and walked right over to hug Snoopy. Try doing that at Disneyland with the mouse.

As P was about to sit down next to SS, this little boy cut him off. I thought P was going to smack him upside the head. My husband was not amused. He better get used to it, because it is likely to happen many times over.

No comments: