The Undetermined Third

Joelle Wisler essays

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I don’t want a third child. At least not intellectually. Or financially. Or with any part of my brain that thinks rationally. I don’t yearn for midnight feedings. I still remember the fatigue and worry that goes along with nurturing a brand new person. I don’t find myself longing to nuzzle other people’s newborns but, then again, my heart has really only fluttered for my own children’s weighted bodies.

But I catch myself sometimes. It feels like a catch. A glitch in the beat and then a heavy sense of warmth in the upper part of my diaphragm. An unspecified song will come on, or my daughter dips her soft curls into my neck just so, or the sun will shine a certain way through our finger-smudged window and that “feeling” catches me. And I convince myself that this undetermined third is reaching toward me; listening for my voice like my three-year-old son told me he did before he got “here.” Wherever here is compared to there.

My husband does not have this feeling and wants no part of my feeling. And the rational, sensible part of my brain shouts hell-to-the-yeah to his thoughtful arguments to any of my half-hearted musings. Our house is too small, our cars are too small, and our vision of the future with travels and jaunts seem to only have room for two parents, two sets of hands, two children. We have a boy, we have a girl. We are almost free of diapers. Everyone talks. Everyone can tell us what they need.

My friend says to me, after we see a heavily pregnant woman lumbering around the zoo, “Oh my god, I am SO glad that is not me!” And I nod absently, and I mumble “Yeah, me too.”

Maybe biologically women are conditioned to grow. The belly aches to grow, to grow the family, to grow the love and expand to encompass the people that reach toward us, those who are listening for the right voice.

About the Author

Joelle Wisler

Joelle Wisler is a writer, mom and occasional physical therapist. She lives in the mountains in Colorado and likes to run the crazy trails behind her house but is terrified of getting eaten by a mountain lion. This year she co-produced show and she blogs at .

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