When my husband and I were engaged we took a few premarital classes to get prepared for the years beyond our wedding day. One of the activities that we did during the class was to answer questions about our hopes and dreams for marriage separately, and compare the answers together. One of the questions was “how many children do you hope to have?”
Luckily we had had the same answer for this question, “4”. Each of us had written the identical number, because we had the same dream and vision for our future lives together.
By our first wedding anniversary we were well on our way to making our dreams come true. Our first child was due on our anniversary, and arrived nine days later. By our third anniversary we had added our second child.
Next month we’ll be married five years, and our two little girls are growing faster than we’d like. They’re 2 and 4 years old, and I now shake my head at the idealistic views we had in that premarital class. Seriously, four kids, were we crazy?
We currently live in a two bedroom apartment, our finances are strained, and I can’t remember the last time we had a full night’s sleep. Our kids are fun, adorable and rewarding. They’re also demanding, draining, and a huge responsibility. Our resources are already stretched thin, financially, emotionally, and in our individual time.
Yet I still get people asking me, “do you think you’re done having kids?” When I haven’t slept in years, and my bank account is in the negative, I look at them and nearly shout, “Yes! I’m done, I’m over it…I love my girls but I don’t need more!” I have been shouting that response a lot this year.
But something funny has happened. Lately, I have been watching as my friends announce their pregnancies, and bring their babies home, and I have been thinking about my decision to be done having children, and I feel unsettled.
Do I still want four children? No, not at all. But I wouldn’t mind one more.
Do I want a baby right now? No, the timing isn’t right. But I don’t want to be done forever.
So when then? I don’t have the answer to that either, but I don’t want to wait too long.
My whole life I have always known the answers. I was always able to write down confidently what I wanted, and when I wanted it. I was able to jump in with both feet, eager to take that next step.
But now there’s so much more at stake, and I have lived a little and seen that taking risks and jumping in with both feet can be exhausting.
I wonder how my own two children, who have an amazing relationship and are very well rounded will react to a third child in the family. I worry about the “middle child syndrome”, especially because my youngest daughter is so attached to me and would have a hard time losing her role as the “baby” of the family. I also wonder how I will handle three kids, when some days I can barely handle two. Am I being foolish, or selfish for wanting more children?
I talk circles around the issue. One day I am convinced I want a child, and there is no better time than now. Other days I’m ready to throw in the towel and sell my crib and maternity clothes, bidding those days goodbye. But most days I just don’t know, stuck between wanting another child but knowing it’s not the right time.
And perhaps that’s the hardest part of all. I am not patient, and I am not used to waiting to fulfill a desire that I have. But in this situation, when everything just doesn’t quite add up, it’s probably best for everyone to just wait.
Five years ago my husband and I were united when we carefully wrote the number 4 on a piece of paper, the same answer to a very loaded question. Today, we remain united, in our indecision about having another child, and our mixed emotion on the subject. One truth remains: we are incredibly blessed to have the two children we have, and we know that any more would be an extra heaping of joy.
Can anyone else relate, and what did you ultimately choose?