We wanted mini for a long time before she came into our lives, and during that seemingly interminable stretch, I would watch young families stroll around our neighborhood in little pram-led pods and strain — with scant success — to disguise my envy and wistfulness.
“What were we talking about?” I would inquire after a pause to Mr. Magpie, clearing my throat.
During this time, a friend who had struggled with infertility for some time and had just recently gotten pregnant — likely repeating a mantra she had herself embraced just weeks prior — said to me:
“You know, you are enough. Your family with Landon, with your dog: it’s enough. You are a family already.”
I nodded, gulping, cringing. It was a tough pill for me to swallow, in part because her well-intentioned and true (deeply true, I have come to believe) comment provoked me to face what I didn’t want to admit to myself: that it might always be just Mr. Magpie and I and our dog-baby. I reflected on her comment for the next few days, fumbling to accept it. I even parroted her language back to Mr. Magpie, trying it on for size. I wanted desperately to see our little tribe as intact, but the truth was that I felt a hole the size of a baby in my heart.
As with most truths I feel unprepared to hear, I found her words recurring to me with regularity in spite of my unceremonious decline of their sentiment. I would shove them out of my way, but still, they would appear to me throughout the day, apparitions of a belief system I wanted to adopt but could not. But over time, I found myself leaning on them, trotting them out when I’d receive another baby announcement, or holding them in my pocket as we picked out our Christmas tree just the two of us, or attended Easter Mass just the two of us, or talked about what to do with the spare bedrooms in our new home, just the two of us. With time, though I still longed for a baby, I found myself cozying up to the sentiment. I might not have been putting my arm around its shoulder, but I was patting the seat next to me: “Come, sit by me.” And so that thought sat with me for many months, got me through some bumpy emotional times, until we were overjoyed by the news of mini’s impending arrival.
I want to write the next paragraph carefully because I remember heaving sighs of envy when I’d read posts along these lines that would end with: “but then we had a baby, and all was well!” Great for you, but what about me? I’m still lingering in agony. But bear with me here.
I was thinking of my friend’s words the other day — “you are enough” — because I feel as though I have just now, even many months (almost two years!) after mini’s birth, accepted them. What this says to me is that I had conflated the sentiment of seeing myself as “enough” with the birth of mini, an assumption that has ultimately proved untrue. It’s most likely a combination of things — age (I mused on this theme a bit when I turned thirty-four), having a healthy and happy mini at my side, relaxing into the true-blue, worn-in-at-the-seams comfort of marriage to my best friend, moving “home” to the East Coast, finding a calling in writing this blog — but I feel for the first time in my life that I am not wondering “What’s next?” I don’t know where we will be in three years or five years or ten years. I will occasionally feel a vague sense of vertigo when I hear friends talking about getting into the right pre-school, so their kids can get into the right elementary school, and then the right high school, all right here in Manhattan. And I think to myself, “Oh Lord, I’m behind,” and then, just on its heels, a shrugging: “But we may not be here then.” Mr. Magpie and I have had about three thousand and twenty four conversations that end with the exact same conclusion: “We’re just going to do what makes sense for us right now, and as best as we can guess for the next few years.” I think this comfort with the unknown has to do with the fact that we have successfully navigated many stressful and complicated situations together. We trust ourselves; we know we will land on our feet. Little rattles us to our cores anymore, a gift that can only come with age and experience. And so I find myself returning to a kind of zen with the right here and right now, with the long and short days looking after mini, with the march of the seasons in Central Park, and I think: “This is enough. We are enough.”
Whatever you are dreaming about right now — a first child, or a home, or a new job, or a second child, or your ideal weight, or a promotion, or resolution to a conflict in your life, or a career change — I hope you’ll give my friend’s words a chance to sit next to you for awhile. Maybe you want to keep them down the row from you for a few weeks, separated from you comfortably by a couple of closer-in acquaintances. And that’s OK. But let them sit there for a spell: You are enough. It’s enough.
*I picked the top image in this post because something about that girl — her pose, her dress, her loose hair, her armful of flowers — is a pitch-perfect reflection of the “It is enough” sentiment. Arms full, fulfilled, in no rush to get anywhere.
+Adore this $125 sweater in both colorways.
+I found a set of vintage ceramic turkeys on Etsy years ago that I love setting out on our Thanksgiving table — the ritual of placing them makes me deeply happy for some reason. These are similar!
+These are my favorite mittens ever. They are lined in fleece and they actually keep your paws warm. I would occasionally hold handwarmers in there when the temperature dropped below zero in Chicago (one day we had a windchill of negative 35) and they worked well. Also like the look of these sherpas for a more small-scale take on the trend.
+I’ve fallen in love with the Staud Shirley bag (and I don’t hate the price tag for being such an “It” style!). I love the way it’s styled below with wintry looks. So cool.
+I use a pitcher like this as a vase for fresh blooms all the time.
+I bought this thermal in the white color as a sleep shirt last winter and found it was in my laundry basket every single time I’d do my laundry, as I’d often layer it under sweaters. I’m stocking up this season.