Why People Have 2nd (and 3rd and 4th) Children

Lucy is not a baby. She hasn't been one for a long time, but as we ate dinner tonight, I was acutely aware of her very organized, social interaction with everyone around her. She observed, she engaged, she responded, she charmed — using a combination of complete sentences and social nuance that was disturbingly mature. Not inappropriate, just beyond the awareness and emotional intelligence of a baby, or even a toddler. Or even some adults I know.

Tonight she asked when she would be a grown-up. I said, "When you're 21." She asked, "How old are you, Mama?" And I responded, "Thirty-three." She said, "Okay, I will be a grown-up when I am 33." I laughed. I did not tell her that when she is 33, she might look like a grown-up on the outside, but really it's okay if she's a big spaz on the inside.

She is learning to be a person, in a hurry to be a grown-up. It is exciting and sad. I mourn her babyhood, and I am so sad for every moment I rushed through. Surely I am hurrying her toward adulthood the way I hustle her through everything: "Get in your carseat please we're late no time for twirling yes I know you're dizzy thank you for the leaf you picked no I don't need another one get in the car before I count to ten or I will leave you here I mean it."

This regret makes me think, I want a baby again! But I don't. I want a baby the way people who have grown dogs or cats think they want a puppy or a kitten. It's all big eyes and sweet, needy sounds, until the charm wears off and you realize, wait, I already have one of these creatures that doesn't crap in its pants/on the floor!

I miss the moments I've missed, and no new creature will help me reclaim those. I am not saying never, but it will take a lot more yearning than this trite soliloquy to make me restack our Jenga life to accommodate someone who can't find its own Duck. Lucy has set a very high bar.