It has recently come to my attention that I’m getting old. And frankly, I find this new revelation down right shocking. You see, I have lived my whole life convinced that this whole “getting older” business was not going to happen to me. I mean…I planned on living a long life and all that, I just didn’t really plan on aging.
Seriously. I didn’t think I would actually age. I just couldn’t imagine it.
Needless to say, I was (am?) kind of an idiot. Spoiler Alert: Everyone ages. Except Demi Moore.
But here is the thing that I have come to learn about aging…it is not actually that bad. Like Miley Cyrus and carbs, aging gets a bad rap. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that totally suck about it – the achy joints, the going-no-where-fast-muffin-top situation and not being able to justify eating a Pop Tart for breakfast- but even these things aren’t as bad as you imagine they will be when you are 22. For starters, Pop Tarts are not even good – they are barely edible at best. Achy joints are conversation starters and serve as a good excuse to curl up on the couch with a good book. And that muffin top? Well, I won’t sit here and say I love my muffin top; but, I suppose if I am searching for the silver lining, a muffin top might be a good reminder that you have led a fortunate life. Or it might just mean you are lazy. In my case, both would be true.
I digress…the truth is that getting older is, in many ways, pretty awesome.
As you age, you care less and less about what people think of you. This has many benefits, but mostly it saves you money. You no longer have to shop for clothes at Anthropologie so you can look “cute and presentable”. Now, you just throw on your husband’s old sweatpants and call it a day. Or maybe this just me?
One of my other favorite parts about getting older is that you know who “your people” are. You may not have as many friends as you did when you were 22, but the ones you have are lifers. You have friends that have stuck by you for 20+ years. Through bangs and Bon Jovi. Through break-ups and break-downs. Through babies and funerals. And now you and your friends have a little money. So reunions involve drinking quality bottles of wine, hiring a designated driver and staying in a hotel room that is not shared with strangers or has been previously used to house farm animals.
I tell ya…there are real perks to aging.
What I am finding to be the hardest part about aging is the loss of time. When you are 22, you feel you have all the time in the world to: ____________________ (fill in the blank: get married, start a family, go back to school, find your dream job, tell someone you love them, say you are sorry etc…).
When you are 22, you are always looking forward.
I am 38. I am happy to say that at this stage in life, I still look forward. And, maybe more importantly, I still feel I have so much to look forward to. But I have also started to realize that I am, with increasing frequency, also starting to look back. Dinners with friends are often spent reminiscing about old times, as opposed to imaging the paths that lie ahead. This rear-view mirror perspective offers a different lens through which to view life. It changes you. Every thing, every one, every moment feels a bit more precious. Every decision feels a bit more important.
And, kids, I can hear the clock ticking. It is faint, but I hear it now. I never even knew there was a damn clock when I was 22.
I think a consequence of this clock-ticking is that I find myself pondering the very cliche question: Should we try for baby number 3?
Just so we are clear…the mere act of typing these words makes me kinda want to throw up in my mouth. I mean, I am already drowning in children and work and life over here…why complicate things further? No one in their right mind would be thinking about such a thing at a time when they are already exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed-out, right?
Unless, of course, if they are on the borderline of becoming old; or at least too old to produce any more biological children. Then, they *Ahem* might just think about it obsessively.
I don’t know why, but I feel like I have to make this decision, like, yesterday. I know people will tell me I still have “plenty of time” yadda, yadda, yadda; but “plenty of time” does not feel all that long these days. Especially when you factor in the harsh reality that just because you might want to have a child, doesn’t mean that you will be able to have one. The point is that time is ticking…if we want another little nugget, we have to decide to try. At least that is what the neurotic planner person who lives in my brain keeps telling me.
So let’s lay out the arguments for both sides, shall we?
Argument for three:
- Nobody regrets having a child (right?). All children are awesome in their own wonderful ways and once they are born, their absence in your family is unimaginable. Any new addition would be welcomed and loved and treasured beyond belief. We would be ever so fortunate to have 3.
- I am from a big family. Big families feel natural to me. Big families are what I know. And I always sort of imagined I would have 3 kids. I also always imagined that I was going to grow up to be a ballerina, so I don’t necessarily put too much stock in my imagination.
- From the perspective of my children, 3 just feels more fun. I don’t ever want them to feel alone in the world and, I guess to me, 3 seems to reduce that likelihood.
- There are still baby names that I like but have gone unused. It seems a waste to not have one more go at it, ya know? Also, I still have a lot of cute baby clothes. Just sayin’.
- With three children, there is a slightly better chance that someone will be there to take care of our old tired bones in our later years. Or at least come to visit us in the nursing home. And bring us chocolate chip cookies. Do not underestimate how important this last point is.
- The Benson grandparents would love us even more than they already do. I think we would safely secure our spot as the favorite “kids” if we gave them 3 grandbabies. Sorry, Cole. My parents would also probably love us more…but seeing as a Baby Benson #3 would give them a total of 20 grandchildren…I somehow think this event would register as slightly less exciting for them.
Argument for Me
- Our little family of four feels really good. We love each other. Things are busy, but not too complicated. We have a boy and a girl; they are healthy and happy and so are we. In many respects, our family feels complete.
- Many international schools only hire couples with maximum of 2 dependents. Having a third child could be a huge factor in our ability to find jobs in reputable schools overseas. As much as I hate that a job could dictate the size of our family…it is a very real consideration for us.
- Right now, our lifestyle demands a fair bit of travel. We are always a plane ride away from somewhere. Adding a 5th plane ticket to all our holiday expenses sounds…well…expensive. We would have to make some serious sacrifices in the travel department. Like, big ones. Like maybe no more whim trips to Hong Kong (which, as it turns out, might not actually be such a bad thing).
- I’m just now starting to reclaim a piece of my life. I am finding every day that I have a little more free time; for exercise or sleep or hobbies or Brado. And I like it. Another baby would certainly set me back in the “free time” department. Also, I am a big fan of sanity. There is a strong possibility that three children might put me over the edge.
- Kids are expensive, yo! Especially that whole paying for higher education nonsense that seems to be right around the corner. How do you pay for 3 kids to go to college? That sounds downright impossible. Especially if you consider my favorite extracurricular activities – like shopping and drinking overpriced lattes.
- Not having to give birth again would be kinda awesome. Not gonna lie.
- We would need a bigger car. And house. Fact.
- I might not ever get my bikini body back. HA! Just kidding! I mean…I am not kidding, but this is not an actual concern. Well…wait…it is a concern…but it wouldn’t stop me from trying to have another child. I’m a realist. I am well aware that my bikini body might not ever come back, even with just two. Also, judging from pictures of my pre-baby self, it is possible that my “bikini body” was never really there to begin with. So there’s that.
So, what should we do? Try for another? Or run for cover?
Is it weird that I want you to help us make this very personal, life-altering decision? Don’t most people make important life decisions by spilling their guts in a very public forum and asking for advice?
Well, they should. It is actually quite therapeutic to put it all out there and see what comes back in the way of answers.
What say you Internet? Three or me?
Editor’s Note: In writing this I realize I am opening myself up to many questions. I think I am okay with that. But here is one question I would prefer not to be asked: “Are you pregnant?”. Because the answer is probably going to be “No.” and then things just get awkward.