Somehow, in the past week, the topic of having a third child came up with three different friends. One of these friends actually has two boys close in age to mine and also an infant son. I watched her manage her three boys at the beach with a respectful awe, and although I loved holding her sweet little guy and playing with him on the beach blanket, I also felt a strong sense of gratitude about not having a newborn in a sling while jumping Lyle over the waves, nor dealing with an explosive diaper (or any type of diaper) at any point during the outing.
And yet I told all of my friends with complete honesty that I am aware of this being “the time”, if there were ever going to be a time to have another; biologically, I actually have quite a few more years, but in terms of the boys being older now and how closely I’d want my children spaced, this would be the time for me. However, it is not in the cards, and that’s as it should be. It’s not what I truly want, nor is it what Matt wants. (The boys have explicitly stated that they’d like us to have 100 babies, and have even figured out places for approximately 72 of them to sleep, but their votes don’t count, thank goodness.)
This is the right thing for us, and today brought a series of reminders of how wonderful it is for us as a family to have moved beyond those baby and toddler years.
For one thing, Matt and the boys did a 5-mile bike ride together while I was out this morning, traversing some city streets and then the lakefront trail down to a beach and back. Lyle was in the bike trailer, and Baxter rode independently on his own bike. They all loved it! Following that, Lyle successfully continued his 3-day no-nap streak and was able to take a bit of quiet time and then push on through the afternoon, which really changes our whole day as a family because there is so much more time to do things together. I called the boys in to watch the Obama/Biden event this afternoon, and it was delightful to watch Baxter’s excitement as he cheered for them and asked a kajillion questions. At the end, he said dreamily, “Maybe I could be president someday.” Those two men certainly leave one with the feeling that if they can make it, anyone could. And, indeed, why not Baxter?
We then took Baxter to the eye doctor this afternoon for an exam; he’s been complaining of difficulties seeing things at a distance. Sure enough, his vision is quite poor, and so before we knew it he was picking out glasses. He will be wearing them all the time – what a change, to see my guy looking so old and studious in his new blue frames. I was so proud of how well he took this in stride and that he was excited to choose his frames. The more we think about it, the more we realize that there were little signs of his nearsightedness for the past year. I’m most interested to see if it improves his overall ability to focus in school; I can’t help but believe it will.
Although the boys were exhausted from their bike ride and the push through the busy afternoon, something prompted me to suggest that we take them out for dinner in Andersonville, the neighborhood we were in for the eye exam. We’ve never taken the boys out for Persian/Middle Eastern food, and Reza’s is one of our favorites, so we went for it. Baxter was so tired he was holding his forehead up with his wrist during most of the meal (and we went at 5 pm!), but he loved the food! I don’t know about you, Wonderfriends, but one of the best feelings for me as a parent is seeing my kids trying new and unusual foods and loving them. After being babies who ate absolutely anything, both of my boys became very picky as toddlers. For years, there has been so much that Baxter wouldn’t touch, but suddenly he is trying and appreciating all kinds of new foods. I couldn’t be more pleased. While Baxter ate falafel, tabbouli, baba gannouj, and lamb kabobs, Lyle picked at his warm bread and covered the entire paper on our table with beautiful, imaginative drawings. He hasn’t put pen (or marker) to paper in ages, and it was amazing to see what he is now capable of. Matt and I exchanged astonished glances every time he explained what something was. We’ll be encouraging more of that, to be sure.
It is now 7:15 pm and the boys are both asleep for the night. This transition out of Lyle’s nap is doing wonders for our evenings and, some days, everyone’s ability to sleep past 7:00 in the morning, a very rare treat around here.
I am fully appreciative of these boys, suddenly so much more mature and capable. They are a delight to be around as they grow and change. And so, when I sense the shadow of that imagined third child scampering out of sight, I need only pause and watch my boys for a little while before I’m ready to wave it good-bye without a doubt in my heart.