Monday, January 09, 2012

The Bedpost


Grandma meets Conor for the first time

A couple years ago, my Grandma Middleton passed away.  She was 95, I think.  I do know that she was a warm, open, loving, generous, smart, and approachable grandmother.  She also loved adventure and travelled all over the world. She was a practicing Roman Catholic, and was always very smartly dressed.

But what I remember most about Grandma was her quick wit and robust sense of humor.

A long while ago, when I began thinking about having kids, I asked Grandma if she had always wanted a big family, or if it just happened that way.  (She had six kids. My mom was the fourth.)

I was pretty ambivalent about having children. At that time, I was thinking that if I was going to do this kid-thing, I might as well go whole-hog and have a bunch of them. (Not like that Duggar lady, though, that’s just craziness.)  Jim once mentioned something about the size of a basketball team, but I thought four was a much rounder number.

But maybe I didn’t want any kids.  Zero is a nice round number too.  I just didn’t know.

“Grandma,” I said, “did you plan on having so many kids, or did it just work out that way?” Remember… Catholic.

“Oh Lordy, no, child, seemed like every time Leo touched that bedpost I got pregnant,” she replied, with a roll of her eyes and a slight smile on her face.

I think I almost fell off my chair, I was laughing so hard.  It was so not what I expected. 

Of course, since then, I have learned that the best plans can go awry.  With an unexpected pregnancy (Conor), a miscarriage, one failed round of IVF, and another unexpected pregnancy (Aidan), things rarely go the way we think they will.  (That whole getting-pregnant saga would make up a post in itself.)

During Conor’s first hospitalization, the hospital’s psychiatrist asked us if we would have had more children had Conor not been diagnosed with autism.  I have no idea why he asked us this question, and Jim and I were so shell shocked from our current situation that we didn’t think to ask.

I’m not sure if I would have had a bigger family had Conor not had autism. Quite frankly, right now, I can’t quite manage two kids and a young standard poodle, what with Conor’s behaviors and the demands of his disability.

I do know that many of my friends with two typical kids are quite happy to stop at a couple of rug rats. They say it’s difficult, but in a way that is different than my difficult.  So I don’t feel like such a wimp when I visit them.

I have a friend with four kids, and I do sometimes sneak Aidan over to her house because, seriously, is she even going to notice that he’s there?  It’s such a scrum all the time. But generally, they’re a happy, well-adjusted tussle. Their home is one of those busy, chaotic, loud homes that make you feel cozy and warm, full of fun and friendship.

Sometimes, when I visit her, I think… could that have been me? What would that have been like?  I don’t know, she’s so laid back.  And me and laid back?  We’re not well acquainted, lets just say.

It doesn’t matter, I guess. A person can plan all they want, but in the end? It is what it is, and I know that there are many days when I feel my small family is just a little too full.  It rarely feels empty.

Maybe my husband will go for another dog.  Hmmmmm. What do you think?

Linus at 12 weeks

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