Enough Comes from a Place of Privilege
One year ago today, I gave birth to my daughter, my only child. From the moment she existed, she was “more than enough,” meaning that she was just enough and everything I had ever hoped for, everything I had ever wanted. I actually expect she always will be.
Growing up as an only child, I never longed for siblings like so many people expected I did. It was all I knew and it was just fine. I actually said to my mother once, “hey, I didn’t ask to be born anyway,” as a provocative affront to her request of me to be or do something. Sometimes I felt more than enough and wanted to hide altogether, my shyness and eccentricities always a burden to me in a world of southern culture and conformity.
But when I was 18, I got the idea that procreating was severely irresponsible on an ever-burdened planet and that it would be my duty to adopt. Not too original, I know, but I was idealistic and yearning for a sharp identity. Not being a breeder was one of my identities.
When I became a social worker, I realized that it might be too much for me, personally, to do the work for a living and then come home to do the work all the time. It was a wise awareness, for me. Enough for me. I have known a few social workers who do this, and I am amazed; some of us are born with such a large capacity.
Then when I married the youngest of three, all very close in age, from a family of many cousins and second cousins and a vast history of connectedness, I knew that having one child may be enough for me, but that it wasn’t completely up to me any more. I was now married to someone who very affectionately described childhood as a “puppy pile.” Cute? I was mostly terrified at first. Babies, plural, was probably an unspoken expectation. After all, these were the type of people who thought being an only child was at least a little sad and strange.
When I had one child, exactly one year ago, within a few weeks of her birth I started to think that maybe I could have one, two, even three more babies, and that THAT would be enough, and that maybe even twins would be okay, because our little tiny lovely new creature was so unbelievably wonderful, and couldn’t it just keep coming, year after year, at least until we turn 40? I once voiced this to my brother in law, who probably still thinks I’m completely insane. I voiced it to my friend in Sweden who has triplets, and she probably still wants to pat me on the head and/or wring my neck.
Hormones are simply amazing. They take over the pre-frontal cortex and all its evolutionary brilliant prowess more than we like to admit as humans.
I’ve been a parent for one year. Today, I think anything is enough. This is all enough. She is enough. One, two, or three more would be enough. It would have been enough to have more savings and a bigger retirement account and more travels (instead of a kid). It would have been enough to foster or adopt a child. I’m in a place of acceptance after this last year because being able to have her puts me in a place of privilege to feel this way.
Enough comes from a place of privilege.
And after 34 years of thinking I knew what I wanted, that definition was really always changing anyway.
It will all be enough. Maybe it always has been.