“You should really have another one, a girl next time, he’s so pretty”
I smiled as I heard these words slip from my mother’s mouth as she rocked my son. He was only 2 months old. Still wrinkly and soft with that newborn smell and here we were, talking about next time.
Next time, it’s a phrase that terrifies me.
“Maybe next time you can do it un-medicated,” my best friend said when I expressed my sadness about not having the birth I planned.
“Next time you’ll know what to look for, “the doctor said after he revised O’s tongue tie, the simple procedure that saved our breastfeeding relationship.
“With two, you won’t be able to afford daycare, next time you can stay home from work.” This one came from my dad when I called him in tears on my way home from my first day back to work.
The common theme here is that next time will be better/easier or possible. But what if there is no next time? What if this is the only shot we’ve got? I’m going to make the best of it.
I try not to dwell on next time too much. I live in the moment with my son. The son that took so long to show up. I watch him with wonder as he learns each little new skill, knowing that this might be the only “first” I’ll ever see. I bask in his giggles; melt under his gaze, my heart swells as he reaches for me. My husband jokes that he’ll still be in our room when he’s 13. I’ve commented that I’ll wean him when his first girlfriend asks me to. I can’t let it go, this might be my only chance and I’m holding on to every single piece of it.
Maybe there will be a next time. Maybe we’ll get lucky again and I’ll get to experience a whole new set of firsts. Maybe I’ll struggle less with feeling happy. Maybe I won’t need to be reassured #jinxesarentreal every week or more. Maybe I won’t have complications; maybe I’ll get the un-medicated birth I planned on. Maybe I’ll go to the classes this time, or finish a nursery or have a perfect latch right out of the chute. Maybe I won’t miss the first time my second one gets in a swimming pool. But that is a lot of maybes, isn’t it?
I’d be lying if I didn’t think about next time with fondness. But I try not to live there. I’m forever grateful that I have this time. Not everyone has this chance; I know that all too well.