Family Planning Vacation

Leo's 15th month

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This August, as we do every year, we’re spending time at the beach with Aaron’s family. It wasn’t really a vacation last year, when the baby was boob-dependent and high maintenance. This year, he’s a wild ocean child, grabbing his little plastic bucket and heading for the edge of the Atlantic without acknowledging the power and immensity of the wave-rocked body of water that lies before us as far as the eye can see. He toddles right in, his chubby little bowed legs quickly losing their moorings, his diapered bum hitting the sand, his pale round belly disappearing in the surf. The next wave throws him backwards into the arms of mama, dada, Popie, uncle Jojo, or whoever has run to his rescue this time. He grabs a finger and toddles back up to his sand pile, waiting for his bucket of water to be delivered. Then he dumps it and heads back to the water’s edge.

A 15-month-old takes a lot of running after, and there are a lot of people here to run after him. Leo plays with his cousin Lucy, who’s a year older, for the first time. Leo plays with his uncles, who range in age from 13 to 32. He plays with his many aunts, he plays with the grandparents, he plays with so many different people all day that when it’s my turn to hold him, read to him or change him I’m excited to see him again. And as I tousle his salty hair, hold him as we laugh together in the warm water of the outdoor shower, or tuck my clean, tired little boy into bed at night, I keep remembering that he was conceived here. It seems like the natural place to conceive a second child. If there is one.
With a week off from work and all the extra help, Aaron and I have time to actually talk. So we talked about having another child. It’s in the air: our sister-in-law is expecting in November, and at least as many of my close girlfriends are pregnant right now as aren’t. I feel jealous when I think about that, possibly just because I like to share in my friends’ experiences. It worked out like that last year.
That’s not the reason to have another baby though, of course. Nor is the fact that Leo loves being around other kids, and is such a social person that it just seems like we should produce a companion for him, instead of waiting long enough that our kids are too far apart in age to really play. So why do people decide to have another kid? We decided we’d have to really want another child, a larger family, the whole experience of the past two years, again. And right now, as Leo becomes more independent (that is, able to be taken care of by other people) and more predictable, the idea of starting over doesn’t feel quite right. Aaron has so much ambition for his music, and I have so many ideas about my career, and we both desperately need to get back into shape. Probably most parents of 15-month-olds don’t consider it the ideal moment to focus on themselves, but when you think about it in terms of whether or not to have another baby right now, suddenly, our lives seem pretty sane. And for this week, at least, the three of us have time to just enjoy each other.