For the man and his wife life is going according to plan. At least, as much as they could plan how life went.
Their oldest child is 25 now, with a good head on his shoulders. He is married to a wonderful woman, moving up the ladder at work and moving into the first home he has to pay the mortgage on.
Their middle child is almost 14, smart, beautiful, funny and infinitely caring. High school is next on her already busy agenda.
Their youngest child is 11 (and a half, don't forget), bright, athletic, with a wacky sense of humor and an empathy for others beyond his years.
Their parents are proud of them all. And also content with their decision to stop at three children.
Unexpectedly, the wife announces to the husband she is late.
How could this be, they wonder. They had long ago taken permanent precautions. This plan was written in pen, not pencil. No erasing. No editing.
Patience, they counsel each other. A fluke. We will wait and see.
The wife doesn't think it is possible anyway, and doesn't want to think about it.
Her husband is surprised to find his mind wandering. The kids are so much older now, they don't need him, at least not in the way little kids need a parent. Independence is what we teach them to strive for, but once they are on that path, we see them walking further and further ahead. And they no longer hold our hands for guidance or safety.
A week passes. Still late.
The wife assumes it is the onset of menopause, not an unplanned pregnancy. We will wait and see, no cause for alarm. She doesn't really want to start all over again, so late in the game. They should be having grandchildren, not more children.
Her husband remembers the good times from the past. Little hands eager to grasp and explore. Little minds eager to learn and expand. Times spent teaching them to speak and walk, not to hush up and sit still. He warms to the thought of a little one. Just one more.
Another week passes. Still late. A test is taken. Negative.
The wife is relieved, of course it is negative. No way it could happen. That time has passed.
Her husband is torn. Part of him is relieved. No more colicky babies, no more teething, no piles of dirty diapers. That time has passed.
No more little ones holding tight to Daddy.
That time has passed.
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