We have a pot on our front porch in which a desert quail pair have made their nest. Eagerly we watched as one after another egg appeared. With a grand total of 15 eggs, Momma Quail settled in to sit on them day after day. We left on a 10 day trip figuring we would miss the hatching, but much to our delight, Momma and eggs were still here upon our return.
Yesterday, when C cried to me because no one has invited him over all summer, I wondered again about our choice to have only one child. A choice made for a variety of reasons, and a decision made largely before C was born. Husband and I each have a brother, and while there were many times in my young life I would’ve paid someone to borrow my brother on a permanent basis, I now consider him the closest of friends. I regret C won’t have any siblings, nor any cousins, and wonder if someday he’ll feel all alone in the world.
Yet I knew, deep in my heart, that I only wanted one. Our early and later struggles with both C’s health and developmental challenges further solidified this decision, as we felt it imperative to give C our full attention. I look at large families with both admiration and awe for the energy Moms and Dads seem to have. Husband and I both recognized our own fatigue, partly due to our starting a family later in our lives as well as due to the issues we faced with C.
I know families with lots of children, and they parent their brood with a grace, patience and skill I simply do not possess. A friend and her husband, after giving birth to 5 biological children, decided to foster, and subsequently adopt, a child with extreme bipolar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome and asperger’s. Another friend and her husband have adopted 5 children, all on the autism spectrum, and are raising them off the grid with homegrown food, homeschooling, and the constant love and attention they need so desperately. In my book, these people are saints.
As we watched this evening, another large family was born. A number of the 15 eggs hatched in our pot, and Momma Quail kept reigning the hatchlings in with her wings and ensuring they didn’t make the jump to the ground before they were ready. I reflected on what must be the joy of having a large family at the same time I reminded myself that having another child simply for a playmate for C would not have been a good decision. As he watched the pot through the window for glimpses of the babies, C announced he’d like to be a quail, and when I asked him why, he replied he’d like to know how to fly. Although I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t just that he’d like 14 playmates to call his own.