Lesbian and Gay Parenting book coverIn a Family Way

A column by Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

More Children?

Posted By on July 1, 2009

More Children?
By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev
"More children ???!!$#%^**!!, "one of my friends yells at me in an email. It is framed as a question, but it is more like the sound a person makes when they accidentally stick a metal utensil into a toaster over. "Aiiiii!!!" I have become so used to this sound when we talk about wanting more children that I have found myself withholding this information from friends. After all, we do have two healthy, beautiful sons. Not to mention that the two of us have about five jobs, two homes, and forty piles of laundry between us, literally between us. Why would any sane person want more children?

One answer is, I have no freaken idea. (Frankly, I always thought "freaken" was a dirty word, and not meant for public use or professional writing, but my six year old told me, "Everyone says that in school, even the teachers," so I am assuming that he is more up on these things more than I am.)

I am writing this column while eating. I am eating last nights’ leftovers for breakfast, which consist of plain pasta, and seriously overcooked veggies. The pasta sauce was spilled on the floor ("sorry mom") and I’m not allowed salt anymore since, well, I’ve reached that age, where my blood pressure is rising as quickly as my taxes.  I am late for work and trying to jot down these words as fast as I can. I only had about 5 hours of sleep last night because my youngest son was singing between 11:30 and 4 a.m. Singing loudly. Loudly singing.

First he sang, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little ‘Tar," and then he sang, "Clean up. Clean Up. Everybody, Everywhere, Clean Up." Then he sang the bus song "The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, all through the town. The babies on the bus go whaaa whaaa whaaa. The drag queens on the bus go swish swish swish." And then a few rounds of "It’s Elmo’s World," to top it off.

Then he started screaming. First he started with "bahbahbahbah."

NO bottle" I yelled. He is nearly two years old, he does not need a bottle at 2 a.m. Then he yelled "Momma" for about 25 minutes.

"What Elie?"

 "Momma"

 "Yes, Elie?"

"Momma?"

"Elie, What do you want?"

 "Momma?"
"Elie go to sleep, please."

"Momma?"

Then he yelled for everyone else he knew.

 "Mommy?"

"Bruddah?"

"Grandma?" (Grandma lives 3 hours away.)

"Carla?" (Carla is his daycare teacher.)

"Go to sleep, Elie"

"Hold you," he says, meaning "Will you hold me?"

"Bee room, he says, meaning "In your bedroom."

We sigh. We know that Ferber, the sleep-king doctor, who has become one of our beloved mentors, would not approve.

We bring him into bed with us.

"Elie, you need to go to sleep now""

"Kay," he says.

"Momma?"

"Yes, Elie"

"Read book?"

"No, Elie, go to sleep."

"Kay."

Then he starts singing again. "It’s Elmo’s world."

"Elie, please go to sleep."

"Momma?"

"Yes, Elie"
"Are you sleeping?"

"No, Elie, I am not sleeping. I am not sleeping because someone is singing in my ear."

"Sing, Momma?" And then he starts singing "I love you. You love me…"

"Elie, I am getting very mad."

He looks at me closely, squinting, as if to see if I am just saying that or really serious. He decides I’m serious.

"Shhhh," he says, putting his finger in front of his lips. "Shhh."

"No, talking," he say, "shhhhh."

"Elie, please go to sleep."

"Downstairs?"

"No, Elie, not downstairs. Here, now, in the bed. Go to sleep."

"Momma?"

"Honey," I say exasperated to my partner. "This isn’t working. He needs to go back to his
own bed."

I am answered by the sound of deep snoring.

Finally Elie quiets down, but spends the next hour poking at my orifices. Ears. Eyes. Nostrils.

I must finally drift off, because the next thing I know I am wide-awake.

"Momma?" It’s the older one. Standing at the side of my bed.

"What sweetie?" I ask, motioning with my fingers at my lips that he should whisper.

"I’m scared, Momma, " he says, pushing his way into the very small bed. The baby is sleeping on my partners’ head; the big guy is sleeping on my chest, and I drift off again, hoping I can get another 2 hours before the baby wakes up, wanting a bottle for real.

Why do I want more kids? I mean, where would I put them?

Well, another answer to the question is: living in a house with two boys and a butch, I’d really like a little girl. Although I’m sure that I would be blessed with a little girl less like me and more like the one I married, tomboy butches with little interest in girls things.

Why do I want more kids?

The most honest answer I can muster is: I’m not sure I do want more kids.

When I first started this baby-getting process, I was desperate to become a momma. I wanted children more than anything in the world. It was a selfish desire. I wanted a baby to hold and rock and call my own and I laid awake at night paying homage to the fertility gods. I was blessed with two healthy sons.

Now when I think of having more children it is still in the middle of the night, but I am not praying for babies, but reveling in the sounds of my own babies sleeping. And I think: somewhere there is a little girl who has no one to sing to in the middle of the night, who wakes up yelling "Momma" but there is no one to hold her. The reason I want more kids is actually very simple — because they need me and there is still so much room left in our bed.