Thursday, April 28, 2011


I'm the proud father of two sets of twins: 6-yr-old son and daughter, and two 3-yr-old daughters.  Most days, my wife and I would readily agree that we're done having kids.  In fact, the day we found out we were having another set of twins, I was ready to schedule a vasectomy then and there (okay... I was half-joking.  Half.)  Four seems like enough -- and on most days, far more than enough.  We love them, and they are, of course the light and joy of our lives, but you know; turns out, kids are a lot of work.

So, yeah... in our heads, we've known for quite some time that we wouldn't be having any more children -- at least naturally.  In the last few days, however, in part because of my wife's health, this intellectual understanding has been solidified into hard, permanent fact of the surgical variety.

When I was young, I was always very indecisive (okay... I still am.  Sue me).  After multiple frustrating conversations in which I wound up trying to figure out why friends or family were so annoyed with me, I figured out a way to solve this.  A way to trick myself into making a decision.

Oh, yeah?  Well, mine's invisible, Harvey.
How ya like that?
The trick: Flipping an imaginary coin.  The idea was that, by mentally "flipping" my coin, I would bypass whatever thought process was keeping me from making my decision, and go straight to what I actually wanted.  Believe it or not, it worked. 

The problem with decision making is that, often, the head and the heart fail to agree, and as fallible humans, we sometimes don't know to which one we should listen.  Or even want to listen.  My little trick forces a choice.  It actually evolved from using a real coin, and then deciding whether or not I liked the outcome of the toss.  Again, it was that task of coming up with a permanent decision and forcing myself to decide whether I could live with it.  Sometimes, I went with the toss.  Sometimes, not.  It wasn't long before I figured out I didn't need the actual coin.

Of course, life doesn't always let you take back your coin toss. 

Mentally, my wife and I knew we probably weren't going to conceive any more children.  In our hearts... well, it was nice to have the option.  It's not that I have regrets, all things considered.  We made the right decision -- and more importantly, it was the decision we had to make.  But this is the part of decision-making with which I've always struggled: permanence.  This was the idea with which I played when I flipped my imaginary coin.

It turns out, the real world is full of permanent decisions.  Things we simply can't take back.  Words we say.  Actions we're too drunk, or angry, or frightened to realize we'll regret later.  Whether it's getting into that car when we know, in the back of our minds, that we shouldn't, or walking into that clinic, or walking away from that loved one... sometimes we only realize much later that, perhaps, we should have re-flipped that coin after all.

1 comment:

  1. Really, it's never an easy choice, even when it's a necessary one. My best childhood friend had a hysterectomy last summer. She had 4 children, she had had 3 miscarriages in the course of having those children, and she knew she would be healthier for it. She wasn't in a relationship anymore, and even if she had been in one, she knew 4 was plenty and she had no desire for more kids. But it was such a hard, permanent thing, that even though intellectually she knew it was necessary, she still grieved for many months about it.

    You and Mel are in my thoughts and prayers, and I love you both.