I Was Supposed to Have Three Kids
My ghost-child popped up yesterday unexpectedly, like a solicitor ringing the door bell. She came through a post that showed up in my feed reader. How many kids should you have?
I took the quiz.
It’s complete silliness, equating a lack of care over your appearance and your home’s appearance as well as your general flexibility with the number of kids you should have. I don’t fall prey to those Buzzfeed tests that tell you where you should live, or whether you’re a Ron or a Harry. (My G-d, everyone knows I’m a Narcissa, and she’s never one of the options.) But I took that test. And I took it to heart when it returned the result:
Congratulations! Three is your magic number. Four, if you count the drink you’ll need in your hand.
And just like that, my ghost-child was sitting on the floor next to my desk, playing with the twins’ old toys.
I just hadn’t expected to see her.
It would certainly take magic to create her, so it makes sense that three would be my magic number. It would take a lot of money and someone else’s gametes and Lovenox. Is that why the quiz wormed its way under my skin? Because there is so much assumption in the fact that the quiz exists in the first place? Sure, all people have the potential to make the decision of how many children they want. But some people will find themselves much more in control of that number than others. Those who get pregnant unexpectedly or who can’t have children without assistance need to contend sometimes with an imperfect fit.
I do think that we were meant to have a lot of kids.
Could I push my way to three kids? Yes — that option is always in my control. I own that; I remember that even as the quiz teases that I could maybe even have… four. It doesn’t stop it from stinging though.
I let the ghost-child play next to me without comment for the rest of the day. I left her at home when I picked up the kids from school and read them Harry Potter and dropped them at a class. I didn’t think I’d deal with her again until after the kids were in bed.
I went to read at Starbucks while I waited for the twins. A woman came with her brood of children — three of them — and three six-week-old puppies. She cradled two in her arms while her son carried the third. They sat down next to me outside and let the dogs explore the concrete by the table. I stopped reading. I watched them for a long time; especially when a little boy came over to gawk at the puppies, and he kept shrieking happily and running back to his mother.
In that moment, all I wanted was one of those dogs. I wanted to pick up the kids with a puppy in tow. It was the most irresponsible, rose-tinted decision about dog ownership that has ever existed. I took the woman’s number, even knowing that the breed wasn’t a breed we were considering getting. I just wanted something warm to hold.
We came home and had dinner. Watched part of a movie and did tuck-in. Most of the time, I can’t imagine our family any different. I love our family just the way it is.
Whenever the ghost-child visits, she makes me sad. And yet I also don’t want her to stay away. I would be equally sad if she never returned as a reminder. Even so, I said goodnight to her after I wrote this post. Went upstairs to watch the Colbert Report, and left her on the other level, playing by herself.