I found a lot to love about life this morning after not finding much to love about life last night. I went to bed early--I didn't go to sleep early, just early to bed. In the comfort of pajamas and warm sheets I lied there thinking about all the things that piss me off and all the awesome things I'll never be.
Every month Aron and I have unprotected sex, so every month it's broadly possible that I'll get pregnant. Aron thinks that there are so many people in the world that it must be the case that getting pregnant at anytime during the month is possible. I've heard so many couples complain of difficulties conceiving that I feel like there must only be a window of a few minutes each month during which it's possible to get pregnant. The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere between my and Aron's antipodal attitudes about the ease of becoming pregnant.
Only once since my last period have Aron and I had unprotected sex. Last night I said, "I can't wait to have a beer," and Aron scoffed. He would dispute my claim that the sound he made is properly characterized as a scoff, but this is my blog, and here I choose the words.
"Why did you scoff?" I asked. "I didn't," he lied. "You know, if guys could get pregnant," I began, feeling powerfully insightful like Gloria Steinem, "there's no way that they would stop drinking beer every time there was a teensy possibility that they might in fact be pregnant." He scoffed again. "Why did you scoff?" I asked. "I didn't," he lied again. "What are you thinking?" I provoked. He replied coolly: "I'm not thinking about the differences between genders. I'm only thinking about you."
A few minutes passed. I decided I needed to defend my desire to drink a beer. "I'm not going to drink a beer tonight, but if I did, it wouldn't mean I was being selfish. It would mean I was being realistic."
Realistically, it's silly to assume I'm pregnant. I can't spend my whole fucking life assuming I'm pregnant. For one thing, it's too disappointing every month when it turns out I'm not. For another thing, it's the end of December: until the beginning of January, I am on on vacation. Between semesters is practically the only time I can enjoy a beer without thinking I should be studying instead. It's not reasonable to throw away the opportunity to drink beer guiltlessly just because I had unprotected sex once in the past month.
For lunch two days ago Aron made a giant amount of vegetarian chili, enough to feed both of us lunch and dinner for three days. As we sat at the kitchen table yesterday eating leftovers, Aron said, "What if you found out I made this with real ground beef instead of the soy crumbles?" I thought about it, then I decided I needed more information: "How do I find out? Do you tell me, or do I find the empty ground beef package in the trash?" We finished exploring that hypothetical: I decided that I would be pissed either way but less pissed if Aron had admitted to using ground beef than if I had just discovered the truth on my own. Then I said, "What if I wanted to take the morning after pill?" (I don't know what it's called: RU-remorseful, or something like that.)
"I would say we don't have enough money," Aron replied. That's the truth. This morning I had to search the house for spare quarters to use to buy some bell peppers. We have barely enough cash to buy gas to make it to our families' houses for Christmas. But in the game of ethical what-if's, the practical response of poverty is not permitted. It's too easy, to clean. The point is to make an ethical mess. "What if we did have enough money?" I pressed him.
(The night before the conversation was when we had the sort of sex that's most likely to lead to pregnancy.)
"I don't know," Aron said, clearly uncomfortable. "That would be weird," he said, and that seemed to be all he wanted to say about the matter.
"Yeah," I agreed, "that would be weird. And I think what our finding it weird indicates is that we are ultimately very much okay with the possibility that we are pregnant again."
I do not think that we are pregnant again.
Four hours later, we were in the car, driving down the road and I said, "We should just do it again. Sex is fun, and if we don't mind getting pregnant, then we should just get pregnant. We would be excited if we found out we were pregnant, so why don't we just try harder to make it happen?" Aron scoffed. "Why did you scoff?" I asked. "I didn't. It's just that, well, there's a difference between accepting a pregnancy and willing one."
It makes no difference to my body and to my freedom to drink beer which sort of intentional state leads to my becoming pregnant.
I seriously do not think we are pregnant again.
Our house is pretty small. The light from our Christmas decorations on the porch shines to the other end of the house, where our bedroom is, at night. While I was in bed last night thinking grumpy thoughts, I could see our new furniture arrangement because of the light coming in through the window overlooking our porch. We recently moved our desk out of the spare bedroom and into our bedroom, which makes me look forward to the approaching spring semester that way getting new school supplies does. Graham only spends an hour or two of each night in his crib. He sleeps best in our bed, and with the desk in our bedroom, Graham can stay asleep in our bed while I am a close, safe distance away studying or completing homework at our desk. If Graham wakes up and rolls over, I will be near enough to hear before he comes close to the edges of our king-sized bed. This will certainly prove simpler and less-time consuming than our old custom of cuddling Graham to sleep and putting him back into his crib five times each night.
We haven't figured out how to get Graham to go to sleep and stay asleep on his own, but we just recently started to figure out how to arrange our furniture to ensure Graham's safety and our own sanity. We moved a bookcase and our sofa into an arrangement that prevents Graham from entering the kitchen. We put our desk in a functional spot. But I wasn't thinking about these improvements in furniture arrangement last night. Last night I looked at the improved set-up and thought about how, right after we arranged everything to ensure his safety, Graham learned how to climb onto the sofa. Climbing on the sofa is a much more difficult skill to master than the skill of falling off the sofa. Since he managed to master the former, I have no doubt that he will soon prove his ability to master the latter. I'm proud, and I'm afraid.
If I did get pregnant the other night my due date would be mid-September, toward the beginning of the fall semester. If I did get pregnant the other night, I'll spend the next eight months (a time period that spans the spring semester as well as any and all summer semesters) being permitted to drink only one cup of coffee a day. College without coffee is a painful thing to image, though I of course have done two semesters of it before.
These are the thoughts I had before falling to sleep last night, and I also thought about how many awesome things I'll never be. I'll never be a runner. I'll never be a doctor. I'll never be a chemist. I'll never be a playwright. I'll never be a landscape architect. I'll never be a poet. I'll never understand foreign affairs. I'll never know how to swim like anything but a frog. I'll never live alone in Amsterdam. I'll never be bilingual.
But I'll always be a mother. I don't enjoy being saccharine, but I can't help it. The idea of always being a mother, of always having children in the world, delights me. I could have bilingual children. I could birth a future landscape architect. I'm not proud of my eagerness to hoist my dreams onto small and weak beings, but I'll do it anyway.
When I woke up this morning the same two things that always make me happy were still true: Graham was stretching and yawning in bed next to me, and coffee was in the kitchen waiting to be made.
The first thing I do each morning is pour eight ounces of milk into a bottle and hand that bottle to Graham. Next, I boil water for my French press. After I've poured boiling water over my coffee, I put a slice of bread for Graham into the toaster and reach into the cupboard for sunflower butter to spread over the toast. The cupboard containing the sunflower butter is high above the stove. I have to stand on my toes to reach it, and as I stretch, my stomach is exposed over the burner that just finished boiling the water for my coffee. For those few seconds, I feel as comfortable as a cat sleeping in the sun. But when I had Graham I sacrificed my chance to have days like a lazy cat. I am always busy. I busily slice bananas and spread sunflower butter. I busily rush with sunflower butter onto the to the sofa after Graham scales it to pick him up and put him back on the ground.
When Graham is done with breakfast, I wipe his sticky face with a wet paper towel and wash his hands in the sink. He loves putting his hands under the running water. I love it, too.
Graham knows so much now. He knows where his ears, nose, hair, toes, boobies, bellybutton, and feet are. He knows where his tee-shirt, socks, shoes and pants go. He knows also where to find his owl, his train, his books, and his little rocking chair. He sits through my lap through the length of a not-too-text-heavy storybook. When I finish reading, he often wants me to read it again.
When I think of having another child, I don't feel any excitement or nostalgia over the newborn stage. Newborns are terrifyingly fragile. When I think of having a child, I don't think primarily of her sweetly swaddled or learning to crawl: I think of building relationships into the future. I think of my and Aron's next child listening as Graham talks about how high school differs from middle school, then about how college differs from high school. And then I imagine them, ages thirty and thirty-three, talking about their respective experiences equally. If one of my children ends up being more responsible than the other(s), she or he will call her or his sibling(s) on the phone and say, "Today is mom's birthday. Don't forget to call her."
I wish we could adopt. But since I had to collect change from around the house in order to afford to buy produce today, I know we aren't the sort of people anyone would entrust the life of a child to, unless we create the life our child ourselves. So sooner or later, that will have to happen. Or we could wait until a decent-paying job is secured, and then adopt.
Graham napped long enough for me to type this entire blog entry, but he is waking up now, which means he didn't nap long enough to allow me to proofread. Graham also denied me the opportunity to fully explain myself. If I wrote anything indefensible or insensitive, it's only because I lacked the time to clarify my position. I have excuses but not enough time to give any but one of them: the excuse of not having enough time.