I have a confession to make: I’ve been longing for another baby. Yes, a fourth.
And yet, I am living with my decision not to have one.
I have considered the reasons to have another: mostly the joy and love that she or he would bring into our lives; and the reasons not to, of which there are more than a few. Mainly, it comes down to entering my forties this year – and embracing a new chapter of my life.
But the ache – filled with longing, wonder and sadness – is there. When I hold my youngest son and kiss those warm, pink, just-woke-up cheeks, I can almost feel his growing weight in my arms.
Soon, he will be a baby no more.
And while I could second-guess myself, I won’t go there.
Because I know that no matter how many children I have, I will grieve when I am done. And while the possibility of having another remains present, exploring the longing will help it transform into something. Perhaps it will become a dull ache that remains within me, reminding me of how dearly I’ve loved becoming a mother, three times over. Or perhaps it will move me into a different answer.
I don’t know for certain.
And this is the point where it is tempting to go to a place of confusion, where we reel with self-doubt and second-guessing; where we become paralyzed and unable to make any conscious choice.
But confusion is often self-created. And its messages are false.
Confusion turns the paradox of life – the joy and the pain and the longing of two different sides – into proof of our inability to make a choice. We stop ourselves from moving in any direction, because there is no perfect choice.
For me, confusion is where I go when I don’t want to be with the other side. When I resist the pain or the ache. When I forego my power because I don’t want to choose. I want the risk to melt away so that I make no mistakes.
And then – and only then – will I feel ready to choose.
But the truth is that I do have the information I need to make a choice for now. Even though there are conflicting feelings, I lean in one direction more than another.
And unless – and until – that shifts, it behooves me to begin facing myself towards that – the direction that more of me wants. Even if all of me does not.
It has taken me a long time to understand this: we live our way into the answers when we stop grasping for them.
Rather, we need to create enough space to hear all sides. To be with the complexity of our emotions. To embrace our human condition of being tempted, pulled and compelled in more than one direction.
And to choose anyways.
So, for now, I’ll snuggle with my growing babe every chance I get. And let myself begin to grieve the closing door.
Until another one opens.
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