The Parenting Chronicles: Starting Over

This piece was supposed to be easy. “It just wrote itself, ” I thought I’d say. Instead the harder I’ve tried, the worse it’s been. There’s just so much to say, so much of it the things that words can only diminish.

I had planned to write a different piece, but as soon as I realized what day I was writing for, I knew I had to write this piece instead. Today I want to tell you about starting over.

After my fortieth birthday, life became a series of new beginnings. New attitudes, new religions, new outlook on life. Soon my husband and I would start a new life. We had it planned, you see, that when our youngest graduated we would turn the mortgage and the dogs over to the kids. We would buy an old RV and run away from home, go be vagabond hippies, go be something we had never been before – just a couple.

But “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans,” and isn’t it perfect that line comes from John Lennon’s “Beautiful Baby Boy?”

We did start over, my husband and I. Just not the way we planned.

His name means “gift of God” and he was conceived in the wee morning hours of December 25th, 2006. He wasn’t planned, wasn’t even asked for, but he was given nonetheless, a Christmas present like no other. That’s how I think of him sometimes: The Best Christmas Present In The History Of Ever.

The date of his conception played a big part in my decision to carry out the pregnancy. I had a full list of reasons why I  shouldn’t and only a few scant reasons why I should, but at the heart of it all was the belief that I had been given this child as a gift from the Gods I so earnestly believed in.

An accident is something that you wouldn’t do over again if you had the chance. A surprise is something you didn’t even know you wanted until you got it. -Roseanne Conner

It wasn’t that I didn’t know I wanted it. Fact of the matter is I had long since decided I adamantly did not want it. I had made my peace with only having two kids. I had finally gone from a lifetime of mad baby rabies to a WC Fields-worthy glee that I would soon be done. I had been raising kids since I was twenty-one and by forty-two I was over it. I was counting the days until the youngest would graduate and the man and I could run away from home. I wanted my freedom as passionately as I had once wanted pregnancies.

But as much as I didn’t want another gift, the moment it was handed to me I knew I could never give it back.

There are so many more things to tell you about: how physically difficult and scary the pregnancy was, the pain of having it chase my oldest child out of the house (she was dealing with her own bad case of baby rabies and my pregnancy only served to underscore her lack thereof), the nightmare that was postpartum depression/psychosis, the cosmic fuckery that is dealing with the Ferocious Fours and menopause at the same time. But those things will have to wait; they are stories for another day.

Today the only thing that matters is this:

I wouldn’t trade the last five years for all the freedom in the world. Happy birthday, Jonathan.

By Brenda

40-something-something stay home mom, floating somewhere between traditional and strange. I’m addicted to music, making things and my computer.

16 replies on “The Parenting Chronicles: Starting Over”

I have to say this is working out pretty sweet for Jonathan – he’s essentially being raised as an only child, and all the grown kids love to spoil him. I can’t help but laugh that our oldest is giving us hand-me-downs for him that our grandson has outgrown :-D

I think that’s the one thing that surprised me so much  – I was always incredibly hard to knock up (twelve years of massive amounts of unprotected sex and  I only conceived twice). It was so surreal, for the first time I was rooting for a minus sign rather than a plus.

Best of luck to you.

Mom mentioned having another one last night.  My response may have been, “Are you crazy?  There would be a 20 year age gap between your youngest children.  AND you’d be the weird parents in kindergarten.”  I guess I didn’t even consider the positives.  I love everything about this piece.

As a kid with three half-siblings who started at ~15-year age gap, it was a mixed bag. It was great having a new family, but it quickly devolved into my parents thinking that I no longer had any needs and that I was always available to babysit. And because it was a step-family, it also turned into the ‘real’ family versus me being just that kid my dad had when he knocked up some high school chick. I’m sure it would have been different if it were the same parents, but it’s still easy for parents to forget that even grown kids need help too.

I have two boys; one in college, one [that I’m trying to get to go] in high school. And a couple of years ago at ~40, I found myself on the wrong side of a stomach bug that must have thrown up my BCP with my lunch. I did flip-flop for ages; another baby would have been great, but the timing was just not right for it. I’d gotten back together w/an old college boyfriend, who decided he’d move across the country and move in with me without any real vetting, and I tried to go along with it…but then when I found out I was pregnant and he didn’t start looking for a job (I was unemployed), I was constantly stressed out and knew it just wasn’t worth it. I ended up miscarrying, and the day after I was in the hospital (Mother’s Day), the guy ended up pissed at me because I wasn’t up for going out to dinner and took off, moving back across the country and then making up stuff to try to defame me on facebook like a child (I see that as huge bullet dodged).

Two years later, and I’m married now, and every now and again the thought of another kid crosses my mind. But that’s something I don’t even want to deal with until I can get everything squared away with my first two kids (and a stepson). I’m definitely in that whole ‘nomads in an RV’ mindset, and I could see being content with just waiting for grandkids – but I think I’d be able to be happy just like you were able to be if that ever did happen again.

That was one of the promises I made myself, that I would never try to turn the other kids into automatic babysitters. For the most part I’ve been able to stick to that. Of course it’s easier since they’ve all moved out. Now the biggest issue is making sure the little one gets to know his sisters and brother (and his nine-year old nephew :-)


Somehow I’m not surprised the hardest part has been not having more. I mean we started over, why not start all the way over and pop out a few more?

I still alternate between grateful and furious my health won’t allow more.

(And my only advice? Double up on the birth control methods :-)

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