When Georgia was born, we were positive that she was our last child. Three seemed like a good place to stop: large without being TOO crazy. There was a certain logic to three:
-The logic of space: We still had an extra seat in the minivan, and an extra place at our table — you know, for Elijah or whomever else happened to drop in.
-The logic of stuff: We had girls’ clothing and toys that had now been used three times — a pretty good run for the money, which also called to mind the horrible alternative: what if we risked another child, and it was a BOY?!? We’d have to start all over again.
-Erick’s logic: Erick noted that many of the families we most admire have three children, and “they must have a good reason for that.” (Of course, we later learned that for some of these families, child #3 was an accident, and others sorely regretted not adding another child before it was too late, but that’s another story).
Also, the cinnamon buns that we sometimes like to eat for breakfast are sold in packages of five.
Then, around Georgia’s first birthday, I started having feelings of longing. I knew these feelings well; in the past, they’d resulted in two things: Campbell, and Georgia.
I wanted a fourth child.
I promised Erick that I wouldn’t raise the subject until he was done with his first year of teaching. So, on the last day of classes I was waiting outside his office door, with my sales pitch carefully prepared. It went a little something like this:
-If we don’t give Georgia a buddy of her own, how will she function within the sisterly relationship of Fiona and Campbell, who’ve proclaimed themselves, “MORE than best friends!”????
-We have three wonderful daughters, whom we adore. Why not add one more????
-Another child would add more love to our family. Isn’t more love ALWAYS a good thing????
Erick kindly refrained from pointing out the loophole in what I thought was a logical “more is always better” argument. Because more ISN’T always better. If that were really true, we’d live in an overpopulated world of obese, promiscuous, hoarding venture capitalists. (Hmmmm….)
ANYWAY, the point is that Erick didn’t share my longing for a fourth child. For the very first time in our 10-year marriage, this put us on opposite sides of a Major Life Decision. (That statement is less a testament to the strength of our marriage than a tribute to Erick’s amazing agreeableness).
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Yep: WE GOT A DOG!
Here’s how it happened:
Also around Georgia’s first birthday, I started experiencing headaches, body aches, and exhaustion. These symptoms lasted throughout the summer. Whatever it was remains a mystery, but while the doctors ran me through a series of tests to determine the root cause, there was no question of pregnancy. First I was on antibiotics, then I had to have an MRI, then I had to have another MRI, and until we knew what was going on, we weren’t sure a pregnancy would be safe.
All of which made me frustrated and sad. But it also gave me time to think. I looked at our life and realized that three kids is a LOT of kids! In fact, most doctors would probably assume that the cause of my symptoms was: my children. I looked around for proof that we should add another child to the mix, and the proof just wasn’t there. Instead, I was snapping at my kids, counting the days until preschool started, and bribing my four-year-old to have “quiet rest time” by handing her my iPod. Don’t get me wrong: I love our three kids, I can handle three kids. I just couldn’t see how having a fourth child would do our family any favors.
Then I noticed something else: Brinkley, our neighbor’s dog who’d adopted us as his second-string family. I when I was doing yardwork, Brinkley would often come over to keep me company; he’d romp around, then sit at my feet and stare lovingly at me. I really liked that. I also noticed how our girls loved Brinkley: he was a prominent figure in their conversations, and every time they spotted him outside they would RUN to play with him, which kept them entertained for hours.
But he wasn’t our dog.
So, one day I said to Erick, “How about, instead of a fourth kid, we get a dog?”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but here’s a tip for anyone who wants a dog, but whose partner isn’t into the idea: First, say that you’d like to have a baby. (For added drama, moon around for a few days, sighing over baby pictures and tiny baby clothes). Then, say, “How about, instead of a baby, we get a dog?” And watch the relief fill their eyes. It’s a great bargaining strategy.
So, we got a dog, which made much more sense than having another baby. Yes, I KNOW that dogs are a lot of work, but when it’s a choice between a dog and a baby, the dog is a tropical vacation; an adorable, adoring creature whom we won’t have to send to college, and who does add more love to our family — without ever screaming, “Mommy, you’re being MEAN!”
On the very day that we put down the deposit on Gracie, we found out that I was pregnant. Further proof that, whatever else you might say about God, he’s got a spot-on sense of comic timing.
That’s right, folks: Kiddo FOUR, due in early June.