Cautionary Wails

So, in case you hadn't noticed, Lucy is an only child. We didn't intend it — we always planned to have two. But when she turned one, I thought maybe we should think about when...Then when she turned two, I had a profound panic. I knew we should start planning. But I really didn't want to have another baby. I wasn't ruling it out. I just had no longing.

I was on a business trip to Philly from Thursday to today, and along with missing Lucy desperately, I was traveling with my friend Pam, who has 3-year-old twins and a 10-month-old. She makes it look easy enough to consider. Two? Can two be that hard? Maybe it was reproductive vanity (if I am not bearing any more children, why not just yank out the machinery and wait for my beard to grow in?) or nostalgia or actual longing, but I felt some possibility stir.

Until I saw the haggard 25-year-old and her three children under the age of five. They trudged past me in the airport like refugees, banging into each other and strangers. Then they were in line in front of me to get on the plane, throwing shoes and granola bars and tantrums. THEN THEY SAT BEHIND ME ON THE FOUR-HOUR FLIGHT FROM PHILLY TO DALLAS. Tyler kicked the back of my seat and talked in bellicose language about plane crashes and death. Samantha screamed and smacked her brother and mother, then screamed some more. The pig-tailed little one (whose name I never learned because she was too cooperative to merit any tired correction from the mother) sucked her pacifier, as docile as Maggie Simpson herself. She is the only one I have hope for. The rest are doomed.

They trudged off the plane in Dallas, assaulting people with their kicks and screams on the way out. I bade them farewell, and my heart (and neck muscles) released for the first time in four hours. During our short layover in Dallas, I began to forgive them. Poor young mother and her too-many, too-close-together babies. She was not trying to raise monsters, she was doing her feeble best. Go with God, little mama.

THEN MAMA AND THE MONSTERS GOT BACK ON THE PLANE. Legend of them had already circulated among the remaining passengers, attendants and cleaning crew. I got lots of sympathetic looks as they resumed their seats behind me. The kicking and screaming recommenced. While I am not saying they stomped on any burgeoning possibility of a sibing for Lu, they were, ahem, poor ambassadors for the multi-child family.