My Life as a Mom: That Little Girl of Mine
Being a Mommy: The Sequel
When I went in for my annual exam before my 40th birthday, my ob-gyn asked me whether I planned to have any more kids. The mere thought of it caused my knees to snap together.
"I guess that would be a no," she said.
I was then living in Austin, Texas, the widowed single mother of two boys, ages 7 and 10. I was certain I was through having children.
The following month I started a long-distance relationship with a divorced dad from Pennsylvania. He also had two kids from a first marriage. Less than two years later I was remarried, pregnant, and living with him and our kids on a farm in a little town called Glen Rock. This life-changing romance had completely rearranged the furniture in my head, and to give my baby-loving new husband a child of our own seemed like the coolest thing in the world.
My daughter, Jane, was born on the summer solstice of the millennium, a month after my 42nd birthday. And while I had used up every drop of patience I had playing Hungry Hungry Hippos years before she was born, while I sometimes feel like the Ghost of Christmas Past when I attend her soccer games, and while it's always a struggle not to fall asleep before she does at night, I love being Mommy again, and having my first daughter makes it extra delicious. I may be permanently fed up with kids' board games and team sports, but many aspects of parenting are even sweeter the second time around, when you know how quickly they will be gone.
Breastfeeding. Taking baths together. Love letters with wobbly, backward printing. "How was school today?" "Great!" The whole Hallmark-card drill.
Whenever I talk to the parents with whom I went through the first round of child rearing, I see how things might have been. These people have become empty nesters. I could work up a little jealousy of their restaurant dinners and weekend trips and grown-up plans, realizing my nest can't possibly be empty until I am 60.
But in the meantime they will have been jealous of me. Because what really is more fun than a long car ride with a little kid, playing Fifty States License Plates and A My Name Is Alice, or yelling in fake foreign accents at the other drivers?