MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
Yesterday my 5-year-old son told Nonna he was asking Jesus to send us a second baby. “He’ll be my friend,” he said. My eyes welled up with tears. At the moment, we’re in Italy. Here, he has much older cousins and is constantly surrounded by teenagers and adults. He’s lonely. It breaks my heart. I can not relate.
When I was his age, I had my brother, who is a year younger than I am. Our baby sister had just arrived. My father is the youngest of nine; my mother is the oldest of six. We were close to all our first cousins – and there are many of them. They were in our house all. the. time. I consider them, in fact, to be just like my siblings. We all lived within a 5-mile radius growing up. To be honest, most of us still live pretty close to one another. That’s probably why my husband and I had nearly 30 people in our American bridal party when my husband and I got married.
Guilt and Sadness Enough to Choke You
In previous posts, I’ve expressed how guilty I feel about failing to produce a sibling for my son. Despite his Italian passport and frequent visits to Italy, he is missing out on being Italian. Our big, intrusive but loving family makes us the most Italian. When he sits in our apartment in Italy or home in the United States all alone in a room, I feel it. I sense the doom. He will never have a constant playmate for make believe or even with whom to argue for attention.
True, in America he has two first cousins who are close in age to him. They are together virtually everyday when we’re in the country. My mother and often I take care of them while their parents work. But with every passing year, their time with us gets shorter. They live in a different town and have more and more responsibilities associated with school. My brother and sister-in-law carve out time to be with them, of course. When their parents are home, they don’t need us, rightfully so. A time will come when they are old enough to stay on their own and won’t need grown ups tending to them all the time. I dread the day.
Where Has the Family Gone?
What gets me to cry is when I think far into the future. What will happen if my son wants to have kids of his own? They will have no first cousins – at least not on his side of the family. Our cousins were our whole world. The biggest sense of belonging my son has had is with his two cousins. I feel responsible for failing to give my future grandchildren cousins of their own.
The broken family – not divorce mind you – is what’s killing us all now. The fact that we’re all disconnected from a community of people is our poison. We’ve lost the chosen family that used to be friends and neighbors. And we’re losing our extended family. We’re far away from those we still have. And we’re not creating more relatives. Yes, there is overpopulation. So, it’s better for the environment. But the heart is still lost.
It’s Economics, Stupid!
These losses stem mainly from economics. Pressures to find jobs, keep jobs, and earn money is one factor. It moves us all over the place, so we’re no longer physically near loved ones. The demands of our jobs force us to spend less and less time with our family anyway. By not being near loved ones, who might be able to tend to children, we have to invest in costly child care. Sometimes, even if we are near family, we have no choice if everyone is working. Now, with all the digital devices keeping us linked to work all day, it’s a wonder we are still having children at all. That is not even to mention the extraordinary costs of health care and higher education in the United States. Who can afford one child, let alone two or more?
So, thinking about having a second child makes me think I’m being greedy. We can’t financially afford another child. Actually, I suppose we could, but it would be hard. It’s hard enough already with one. I feel selfish for wanting to ask a baby, not to mention our first child, to make the necessary sacrifices. For one, they would be foregoing time with us. We’d have to work more to support us all. And they’d be giving up some luxuries for sure. Certainly, some of that would be character building. And a baby to enrich our family would be better than any treats, such as a nice vacation or eating out. But just paying for the necessities could be tough. You never know what could happen down the road. That hardly seems fair to little ones.
How Many Miracles Can One Person Get?
Never did I face the infertility struggles of some of the women of my generation. I was never injecting myself with anything, nor did I have one doctor’s appointment after another. I didn’t even take any medications to get pregnant. But we suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage that turned our world dark for a long while. And I do not ovulate, thanks to polycystic ovaries. So, it’s not easy to get pregnant. It happened twice. The second time, we were blessed with our son.
We had prayed and prayed to Jesus for a child. We lit candles asking St. Gerard to help us. Honestly, we’re not the most religious people in the world. But prayer and a little faith gave us hope. Indeed, our son arrived. Our baby has brought us so much love and joy. We are grateful. Every child is a miracle to his or her parents. It’s overwhelming. To ask for a second baby seems wrong. It seems like we’re asking for too much, more than anyone deserves.