The year of 2015 is my last full year of my 20s. I'll be 30 next June (mark your calendars for the Dirty 30 Pirate Party of the year right now). I'm not afraid of watching my 20’s go, but 30 will have a rather poignant meaning for me anyway:
I'll have been a mother for 10 years. A full decade.
While a majority of my friends waited to become parents for one reason or another (finances, fertility, finding the right partner, etc.) I dove headfirst into becoming a mother when I was 20 years old. When our first child, Cabin Girl, was born, I was confident that we would get pregnant again when she was around a year old, and we would have as many babies as possible by the time I hit the big Three Oh. I distinctly remember telling people that I would have kids until my uterus fell out. That I would have babies until I had at least 2 of each gender.
As luck would have it, we had 2 of each gender exactly. It was when the last, The Kraken, was born, that we decided 4 children was all that our sanity could handle and that put paid to it. Now, snipped, tied, and scalded into sterilization (no chances, we triple bagged it), we are looking forward to our years as parents outside of baby jail.
But there's a sensation creeping up on me that I am distinctly familiar with. The baby bug. The fever. My clock says it's still ticking. My ovaries cry out to my uterus across the broken bridges that were once my functioning fallopian tubes. “The Kraken is 18 months,” they shout. “It's time for another baby,” they clamor. “You're not 30 yet! You promised us,” they attempt to bargain. My throat constricts and my eyes get misty, thinking of the sweetness that is a newborn baby. A bittersweet craving floods my body and I acknowledge. Yes. I would have loved to have another baby.
Then a child comes screaming through the living room to where I've been sitting, attempting to drink my single cup of coffee while it's still hot, crying this his brother took the blue bowl and “It's MY turn to have it!” With a twisted sixth sense my kids are aware when I'm feeling vulnerable and immediately make it their mission to not only make me wish they were still tiny enough to wrap in a burrito so they couldn't move, but also unable to speak beyond an adorable babble.
They don't realize it, but they are making the desire for a newborn stronger. Never was I happier than when I could sneak away into a quiet room to nurse the baby. Need an excuse to remove yourself when company's over? I'll just go feed the baby in the nursery. Don't want to accept an invitation somewhere? Oh, the baby's been fussy today and it'd be better if we kept close to home. Older kids being too rambunctious? Hey, kids, let's put on a movie for some quiet time so we don't disturb the baby. Yes, a newborn. The perfect scapegoat.
I have never been a great juggler though, and eventually, the newborn turns into a baby that crawls and gets into things. Tastes everything it can get its hands on and dumps out anything within reach, no matter what container is being used. Baby to toddler, to ornery preschooler, to know-it-all child. These are the things my brain repeats relentlessly when I feel that pinch of desire to snuggle up with a warm pink bundle and nuzzle a frictionless cheek that isn't sticky from the mystery substance of the day.
And it was with those things in mind that on our most recent date night we stopped into the pet store. If I can't have a baby, then I need something else. There was no getting around it. My desire was not relenting. My heart was not backing down. Our lease won't allow us to get a puppy and Captain's allergic to cats. There had to be something though, that could ease my need for a tiny new family member.
So we bought a beta fish.
No, I can't cuddle or pet him. I can't really do much aside from watch him build bubble nests and flare up when he gets angry at his reflection in the glass of his container.
But at least he doesn't demand more of me when I have already given more than I have, yell, make giant messes, or carry the threat of someday abandoning me and running off to never see me again as he becomes his own self-sustaining individual. And, if push comes to shove, we can eat him.