I was dropping Drew off at preschool last Friday when his teacher, who was in the middle of unbuckling him from his car seat, asked, “Are you having another baby?”
I misinterpreted her question as, “Are you pregnant?” to which I quickly said, “Oh no, no, no,” as if she was inquiring into a very private skin condition. I wasn’t immediately offended that she thought my tummy resembled a 12-week womb; I was shocked such a possibility might be, well, possible. Do people really have three babies? Could I?
What she really meant, of course, was “Are you planning, one day, to bring another life into your family?” Not exactly carpool line subject matter, but I made a quick conversational U-turn (“Oh-you-didn’t-mean-was-I-pregnant-just-was-I-considering-having-RIGHT”) and tried to give Miss Jessica the Cliffs Notes version of all my motherly angst. Just playing it by ear. Not set either way. Such a big decision. Is my tuition late?
I drove home with Madeline in tow, and immediately transferred her to a stroller so we could take a Thinking Walk. We started down Berkeley Place amongst the lawn mowers and joggers and garbage men, me working over my thoughts like a cherry stem. I was brain-tied. Madeline sat silently in her stroller, gnawing on the blacked corner of her crochet blanket, apparently pondering a similar vein of thought, but concluding (I’m sure) that if she had to have a little brother or sister, it had better be a dog. Madeline loves dogs, although her affinity for blanket corners indicates she’s closer to a goat, physiologically speaking.
We turned left down Huntington, a beautiful street. I enjoy inspecting front yards and general property upkeep, lopping off overgrown vines or applying paint trim in my mind as I stroll past. If I could be a super hero with a super power, it would be to improve home exteriors with the twitch of a nose. Suddenly, without so much as a warning yelp, a large figure bounded towards us from the left, from behind the corner of the two-story house I had just mind-re-roofed. It was the largest boxer dog I had ever seen. As he got within 20 feet of me, he began barking like I was made of kielbasa, and I began to run. (Pushing the stroller, of course.)
Have you ever run away from a dog? Neither had I. I would never have expected it to be so dramatic. Madeline didn’t see him since she was facing forward, but she must have wondered why mommy had picked up the pace. Just before the dog was about to make jugular contact, he wheeled around and left as quickly as he had come. Like a little angel had bitten his toe.
I recovered my heart from somewhere north of my esophagus, and looked around to see if there had been observers. That would have been the really horrific thing. But before I could assess the damage done to my dignity, here came the boxer again in a full-throated bellow. Suddenly, I had run another block. The dog was keeping pace, right on my heels, and somehow I knew I should stop running and there was a vague suggestion in my mind about playing dead, but once again and the boxer was abruptly called off. By his owner? On his own? I felt toyed with like a Saharan antelope. (Madeline was, miraculously, still in blanket-oblivion.)
As I circled back around, I saw a stroller emerge from behind the house. The boxer was sidling along beside it, docile, tied to the handlebar by his leash. And his owner? Completely clueless. No apology. No acknowlegment. She must not have seen our little interlude, or was too mortified to even apologize. I wondered if I should mention it, but I was terrified I would start crying. I would rather have been mauled to death on Huntington and died in a pool of my own blood. Instead, I pressed ahead and mind-exploded their house.
The decision to have another baby has been brought to a point this month. It’s just about the “time” people start getting pregnant with their third, if they’re going to add more to the quiver. But I’m not ready to decide. I’m just not, and I wish it could be left alone. This question of baby or not-to-baby swoops down and chases me around for sport, much like that boxer dog, except I really do feel caught in its teeth. Or in its beak, as it squawks, NOW OR NEVER, NOW OR NEVER, NOW OR NEVER.
I had a dream the night of the Boxer Incident that I was pregnant with sextuplets. In the dream my belly was made of what looked like very thin Silly Putty, and you could see precise outlines of tiny hands and feet as they pressed themselves against the inner wall of my uterus. I was like a 3D bar graph, where baby hands were the indicators. While we’re on the subject of statistics, on a scale of one to ten, I’m scared to ten of EITHER option: both of having another baby, and of NOT having another baby. Neither is completely acceptable to me, though I think if you were to tell me I would never have any more children that it would sit better than if you were to tell me I was pregnant right now. How’s that for ambiguous?
Maybe we should just get a dog.
Just not a boxer.
Better yet, a goat.
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