On Saturday, we celebrated our last weekend as a family of four by going out to dinner. Nine months pregnant, exhausted and overwhelmed by hormones, I got choked up when we walked into our favorite fish restaurant. Not only was it going to be our last time saying table for four, but it was going to be our children's last time sitting at a table with our undivided attention.
Often when I'm out and about in Mountain View, I notice the families of four. Two parents. Two kids. It makes sense.
They easily fit in a mid size sedan and are quickly seated at restaurants with an abundance of tables for four. One parent handles one child's meltdown while the other parent walks the other child safely to the restroom. For a long time, a family of four made perfect sense to me and my husband.
But my husband and I both come from large families. We are very close to our siblings and have fond memories of growing up in homes filled to the brim with family. We couldn't shake the feeling that we wanted a bigger family. So we decided to have a third.
Our dinner on Saturday involved the usual chaos of dining with two kids in tow. Our son, Owen, who always eats everything, wouldn't eat anything. Our daughter, Josie, who prefers her food breaded and fried, whined about her grilled chicken and veggies. But she quickly obliged when reminded that a scoop of ice cream was included with the meal.
My husband and I made the most of our time with Josie and Owen at the table, coloring the kid's menus from front to back and playing tic tac toe on the paper place mats. Josie stood up to model her outfit of choice and explained why she picked the gray leggings to match the slight gray undertones in her zebra skirt. Owen told us a story about when he was a fisherman and caught a million fish in his swimming pool by his house that is far away.
I was taken back by how big they'd gotten and the wonderful imaginations and personalities they've developed. Sometimes I can't believe I am the lucky person who gets to watch them grow.
Suddenly, Owen knocked over his apple juice which spilled across the table onto Josie's carefully selected ensemble. My husband cleaned up the mess while I dried off Josie's zebra stripes. I looked up and asked my husband, "how are we going to manage with another baby?" He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "we'll figure it out. We always do."
Before we left the restaurant, Owen had a meltdown because his refusal to eat dinner meant a denial of dessert. While trying to calm him down, I realized that Josie was quietly crying in front of her bowl of vanilla.
"Why are YOU crying?" I asked.
"Because Owen's not getting ice cream," she said.
It broke my heart. At the same time, it filled it up. And calmed me down.
The birth of another child will mean the gift of another sibling. And based on my life experiences with four older siblings, a sibling is the greatest gift I could ever give my children.
The baby will grow to be Josie and Owen's best friend and, at times, their worst enemy. The baby will be their teammate one day and their arch-rival the next. But through it all, our third child will be a part of our family, and Josie and Owen's lives, forever.
When my husband and I bring home another baby this week, we will have another mouth to feed, another cry to calm and another future to plan. But we will be getting another life to love, a new personality to enjoy and more stories to share. With all the sacrifices we make for our children, we are reminded each day of how much more we get in return.