When Aba and I started out on the road to have children I found Mothering magazine, their online forums and attachment parenting. As we wandered down the path to parenthood I pictured the way it would be. A non-invasive pregnancy, homebirth and babymoon. EC, gentle discipline, babywearing, child-led weaning and homeschooling. As we went through  tests and pills and needles and failures the picture in my mind sharpened and became a mantra I clung.

When we finally got pregnant and found out we were having three babies I began to compromise. I would need more ultrasounds and couldn't really survive without a stroller but those core beliefs remained. Then came the failures. Pre-eclampsia, leaving the hospital without my babies, not able to breastfeed, feeling overwhelmed and alone. 

In my despair and guilt over not living up to my vision, I fixated on The Next Baby. It would be perfect. It would be wonderful. All would be exactly as it was supposed to be with The Next Baby. Everyone told me I would have one soon. Within a year. Four kids under two. But it didn't happen. 

It took me a while to climb out of the hole I had dug myself into, but The Next Baby remained in my head. So it would be four under three. It would still be Perfect. But that didn't happen, either. Four under four? Nope. 

Through it all the girls grew and I began to think less of my mantra. There was an early miscarriage and a couple cycles I was certain would be successful, but the need wasn't driving within me. No longer were plans predicated on The Next Baby.

I'm not sure how or when it happened, but I found myself thinking about how we could get a smaller car soon since we don't take the stroller with us much. I worked out trips to Israel without calculating if I could fly when I was pregnant. I started getting rid of those precious things I had saved for The Next Baby. 

Then one day I was sitting in Jerusalem and it ocurred to me that I don't really care about The Next Baby anymore. I'd love to be pregnant again, but I'm done putting life on hold. I'm done wanting.

So I leave the house wearing kitty cat ears and hot pink nail polish. I watch old Batman reruns and play with My Little Pony. I teach my girls to make me coffee while I make them breakfast and then we go for a walk without brushing our hair.

The joy I get from my girls is unmatched by The Next Baby.

And my new mantra? Give them a smile and a laugh!