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Schrodinger’s Siblings

There is a moment happening in my life right now, where I feel the tug of a second baby. But it’s not what you think. It’s the space where the tug should be, and I am aware of its absence.

When I was younger, before I had NS, when I pictured my life, I saw some things as vague, and other things crystal clear. My professional ambitions were a smeary fingerprint on a camera lens half-focused on maybe writing, maybe social innovation, maybe cooking, maybe something else. Things on that front have never really snapped into place—I’ve never had that burning-bush, come-to-Jesus moment about what I should be doing with my time on earth. But as I’ve gotten older and gotten more comfortable with the skills, talents, and experience I do have, I’ve realized that all these little rivulets of professional activity have joined together into a half-way respectable stream. My peers are off publishing books and earning PhDs, but I don’t really care: I’ll get there in my 40s, because I am perpetually a decade behind.

On the flipside, I pictured kids, with an s. Two boys, three girls, one of each, twins…who knows? Just…kids. I come from a family of three kids; my parents had ten siblings among them. Having kids seemed like it was my destiny. After all, who has just one? I knew very few only children growing up, and even now, most of my friends have siblings. The mom-friends I’ve made are almost universal in either having or wanting more than one kid.

And then there’s me. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I shrug at the idea of a second baby. There are so many different ingredients in this non-decision pot: logistical (where would live? where would we stash a second child?); financial (how would we afford daycare, karate lessons, camp, allowances, university?); scheduling (how could I maintain my current part-time position if I’m caring for two kids?); physical (my body is only now starting to recover from the rigors of pregnancy, and fuck if I’ve lost any baby weight at all); fantastical (when we plan our around-the-world trip, having another kid will make it harder!) emotional (it seems impossible to introduce another baby into this family of three); somnological (I AM SO TIRED).

I think about it from the other side, too. I love my siblings—although, admittedly, it took me into adulthood to have really good relationships with them. I don’t want NS to be alone once we die. He loves other people and is a social creature; how could we deny him the chance to have a peer for life? Eventually, no matter how many kids I pop out, they’ll all be in school at some point, and the financial burden of daycare will evaporate, and I can work more. Were we really going to take that around-the-world tour? Like, really? I mean, even Anthony Bourdain didn’t become Anthony Bourdain until he was in his 40s.

Thinking about it logically does me no good. It’s easy enough to say, “Well, I’ve always wanted three kids, so let’s get started,” but there’s also that list of reasons to quit at one. I know so few people who’ve been ambivalent. I know lots of folks who always wanted one, or folks who knew they wanted more. And I know basically zero people who started off wanting lots, and then scaled back to a singleton.

I keep waiting for the tug, the pull, the urge, the same feeling I felt before NS was born—that I must, that I had to, that the clock was ticking and I should get started on this today. Does that come? That same sense of urgency, of excitement to meet the little bean who will become your kid? I feel like there are two paths in front of me: one kid/more kids. There is no single right way forward.

About the Author

Kaitlyn Kochany
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More about Kaitlyn Kochany

Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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