I just ordered a book with the above title. Minus the question mark. But the question mark is there for me. Let’s just say I’m still debating the merits of expanding my family.
I understand the upshot of the book is “an argument for smaller families.” It’s apparently written from the perspective of population control and environmental impact. These are good things to take into consideration. But my concerns are much more personal.
Once your child gets to be about one and is (hopefully) sleeping though the night, people start asking when you’ll have a second baby. This might seem rude, but it’s actually quite accepted to broach this topic in the workplace, at playgroups and even to a stranger in line at Babies R Us. You might hear, “So, when are you going to have another?” Or, “Thinking about giving him a sibling?” As if Josh would consider it a “gift” we were “giving” him if we had another baby. Everyone knows that the decision to go for round two of sleepless nights, endless laundry and 40,567 more poopy diapers is a gift that we moms and dads rather insanely GIVE TO OURSELVES. Duh.
So since I’m a social person who tends to process things while speaking, I’ve actually taken up this conversation about the (potential) second baby with everyone from that stranger at the mall to my office mate. Well, I have to tell you: The jury is still out. And this is definitely NOT an unbiased panel of folks. Now my research is strictly anecdotal and to be honest, I haven’t even formed a single conclusion, but I have gathered some rather interesting comments on the subject:
“Two is so much better. The first year or two is really hard, but then they entertain each other and it’s way easier than having just one.” ~Mom of two boys.
Easier? Somehow I doubt that.
“I didn’t have siblings and I was so lonely.” ~Mother of three.
I was lonely after major meltdowns with my brother that earned us both 20 to life in our separate bedrooms.
“One’s perfect, one’s enough.” ~Mom of two
WHAT?!? A mom of two admitting that she maybe got more than she bargained for?
Don’t you want your child to have someone to lean on when you and your husband die??
Jesus. Talk about morbid. Believe it or not, I have heard this rationale from multiple sources. But there are no guarantees my children will feel supported by each other when my demise arrives.
While I’m not dwelling on what will happen to my child(ren) when Rich and I get hit by a truck, I have additional worries:
I worry that the next baby won’t be healthy. (Clock ticking. Eggs aging.)
I worry that the next one will be “easier” and I’ll love him/her more.
I worry that s/he will be fussier and then I’ll really wonder what the hell I was thinking.
I worry that it will push us to the financial brink. Sure I already have a crib and a changing table and a diaper pail and clothes and toys. But I got all that stuff as gifts or hand-me-downs anyway. Most of our actual expenses will be repeated: diapers, food, college. Did I mention that my husband wants to save enough to someday retire AND put our kid(s) though college? ANY college? EVEN OUT OF STATE COLLEGE? And I’m afraid to mention it, and who knows if our kid(s) will be smart enough, but probably even IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE!! How insane is that?
I worry I won’t be able to stop myself from comparing them. Endless, unhealthy comparing. (Like maybe one will be smart enough for Harvard, but the other won’t. How do I handle that? Do I ever admit that I think that? Even to myself?)
I worry they JUST WON’T GET ALONG. Not when they’re young. Not ever. (It could happen.)
I worry one more child will topple the (extremely) delicate house of cards my husband and I have built around (somewhat) maintaining our child/marriage/home/jobs/chores/personal time.
I worry that having siblings in my home will push my buttons even more than they’re already going to get pushed. Rich’s buttons too. Right now we have one (1) dynamic each that is being repeated in our home: For me: mother and son, (my brother’s relationship with my mother) for Rich: father and son (his relationship with his dad). Doesn’t that seem like enough baggage? You know this grows exponentially right? Add one tiny baby girl and you get:
ME: me vs. mom, my sister vs. my mom and me vs. my brother
RICH: his younger sister vs. his mom, his older sister vs. his mom, him vs. his older sister, him vs. his younger sister
At least some of these are in reverse age order, but still, that’s seven (7!) more dynamics for the price of one child. And it’s not any less complicated if we have a boy. Same exact issues. Plus if we had a boy and a girl that would be all different and messy and then someday I’D HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE HORROR OF A TEENAGE GIRL. That would probably put me completely over the edge.
Bottom line: I’m not sure I’m ready to cross the threshold into the unknown yet again. When Rich and I held hands, looked at each other, smiled, and jumped into that abyss before, I knew it would be hard. But I knew we could do it. Two just seems WAY more complicated. My friend who has more children than I can count says, “No one can have just one.”
Actually, some people can, and maybe I’ll be one of them.
So I was worried about all of those things…. and yes, I do compare my 2 kids… all the time. But not in a negative way. It’s more that I like to see what they can do and imagine where their individual gifts may take them. For example, Ethan was VERY content to sit and watch the world pass him by- and not very active as a baby. But I’m proud to say that he has learned to walk:) and can now remember, repeat, imitate much of what he sees/hears in story/circle time, music class/ nursery school. Pieter, on the other hand, is super active baby and it is fun to marvel at the gymnastic feats he performs. I’m a little scared, though, to be his mom when he can crawl (probably within the next few weeks) and walk. Oh my god! Anyway, comparing them is inevitable, I think, but I have found that comparing them (to myself or to others when they’re not around) hasn’t detracted from either of them in my eyes. I prefer to look at it as recognizing their individuality and their own unique gifts within the context of our family.