being okay with four
Today Little Friend started wondering about future candy windfalls in her life. As in, “When will it be Easter again?” The Easter candy pile, carefully doled out a piece per day, has dwindled to a sorry lot of yellow and orange jelly beans, a few forgotten M&Ms and the legs and feet of a chocolate bunny. Clearly, she’s trying to plan ahead.
I inform her that “Next Easter” will be a year away.
“But I do not think I can wait that long. How old will I be then?”
I add a year onto her current three and say, “You’ll be four.”
“Nooooo!” the wail begins. “I do not want to be four. I want to stay three!”
That makes two of us, Little Friend.
With a mere month left in this pregnancy, a day can’t pass without the minutes and hours reminding me that our family number of three will soon be expanding to four.
Can I confess something?
I do not want to be four. I want to stay three.
At the risk of revealing myself to be the selfish, frightened, change-shunning monster that I am, I really, really don’t want to lose the “normal” life I have today. It’s a life that happily revolves around a triangle of Mama, Big Friend, and Little Friend. I shudder to think what will happen to those sides of the triangle when we rearrange into a square. Will we break, crack, bend, or split into permanent stretch marks? Will all that is beautifully balanced in life be cracked on the sidewalk like Humpty Dumpty?
Once upon nine months ago I was tempted by visions of candy: the gold-spun heads of two children huddled at play, four blue eyes flashing with mischief at the dinner table, the round, solid heft of a baby bum cupped in my palm. I wanted more of that candy.
Having a sweet, lovely, scrumptious daughter like Little Friend will do that to you. You can’t stop at one bite–you want to devour that chocolate bunny from ear-tips to toe-tips. And then you want seconds.
But like Little Friend, who wants to have TWO piles of Easter candy while she’s still three, I wished for the impossible. I wanted to add a human being to the midst of our family without changing a single, precious dynamic.
It’s impossible to have two Easters when you’re three. It’s impossible to grow to four but still stay three.
I know what I’m supposed to be saying at this point in the pregnancy: I’m so excited. I can’t wait. I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m ready for it. Grin. Squeal. Gush.
But I can’t say those things.
I can say the following: I like full nights of sleep. I like no diapers to change. I like being able to run out to the store to pick up two things and not have the errand take three hours plus a breastfeeding session in the middle of a parking lot. I like being able to cut up, instead of purée, a dinner. I like having a child who can put on her own underwear, even if one of the leg holes becomes a waist hole. I like the way things are right now.
I don’t know if I’ll like four.
So while it seems that every expectant mother around me is just that–happily expectant for the change to come–I’m feeling a bit morose about the unknown.
Isn’t it a tad silly to be morose about the unknown? Especially if that unknown is being defined by the incomparable, miracle-working blessing of a new baby?! Most of the life events that I’ve tiptoed up to with reluctant steps (marriage, motherhood, career changes, to name a few biggies) have all gone so well, I wouldn’t trade my life experiences for anyone else’s. So when do I learn my lesson? When will I learn not to quake at the unknown but instead to love and embrace what is known while also leaving some room in the bear hug for future potential?
The one thing that’s pulling me onward toward four, like Little Friend accepting the inevitable fourth birthday if it bribes her with another bulging Easter basket, is the sheer joy of knowing Little Friend. The way she arranges birthday parties for her stuffed animals. The way she makes up nonsense words and then giggles as we try to repeat them. The way she goes “squeak, squeak” in the morning pretending to be a Baby Koala wrapped around Big Friend’s neck. The way she directs me to be Princess Snow Fairy Snow White while she’s Princess Snow Fairy Cinderella. The way she directs me to be a mean step-sister when she’s in an impish mood and set on destroying Cinderella’s dress. The way she asks if every single bit of food is “healthy or not healthy?” The way she insists that each package that arrives on our porch is for her. The way her footsteps thunder at “nap time” as she chants “Jack Be Nimble” at the top of her lungs.
I’m not excited about being four…I’m anxious. I know it’s going to hard, and I really don’t think I’m ready for it. But, bottom line, if I get to know another Little One who turns out to be as intoxicating a human being as Little Friend, then I guess maybe, just maybe, I’ll be okay with four.