As a child I always knew, or maybe I should say, felt, that I would have children. I would happily tell anyone that would listen that when I grew up I would get married, and have a boy, then a girl and then a surprise. So when I got married and had a boy followed by a girl, I felt my ‘plan’ was coming to fruition. Although the surprise never came. The three children stopped at two.
That was 7 years ago. I always felt that by now I would have had my three. That the gap would be smaller. That my family would be complete. And now on the verge of turning 40, I am beginning to have to question my younger self. If she was here now, this younger self of mine, I would be having quite a debate with her I can tell you!
I would want to ask her how on earth she felt that having three kids was manageable financially. To point out to her that it is actually a scary prospect deliberating number three. I would point out that there is not just my husband and I to consider the impact another child would have, but two other lives that would change because of the decision to go ahead. Will our two children miss out on our spark because we are so tired? What if the other children have to go without things because time and money is stretched so tightly? Then there is my age to consider. What if something goes wrong? What if I have a dreadful pregnancy? What if I never get my boobs back? God forbid!
The. List. Goes. On.
As I am approaching middle age at what seems like an accelerated rate, I am accepting the realisation that I may have left it too late. Statistically I am more likely to have a tougher time of it during pregnancy and labour. Not to mention afterwards. The tiredness was hard enough when I was younger, and that was without another two human lives to be Personal Assistant to. So, facts on the table, it is looking quite likely that any surprise will not come in the form of a babe in arms.
If I mention this to my friends, I get the same resounding response. Words of encouragement such as ‘you are never too old’ and ‘you feel it when you know that you are done having children.’ Herein lies the problem. I don’t feel complete. I have two beautiful individual children, a lovely home, a bloody amazing husband… and yet there is something always niggling at the back of my mind whispering “but…..something is missing”.
I find myself imagining mothering a new member of the family and I feel excited at the prospect of ‘just knowing’ this time around. None of that panicky parenting I experienced the first time around. With my second, she was much easier to parent as the nerves had been eradicated with my first. So the third, well I feel it would be a breeze… or is that just wishful thinking…?
Then there is the niggling feeling that I have not nurtured my second with the forethought that she could well be my last. When our second baby came along, I still anticipated a third. This may sound odd and I hope that you know what I mean, but I don’t feel I took in every last moment, every last stage. I let it all go by me in a hazy, sunny daze. I didn’t savour each little miracle of growing up, every little milestone. If she was my last, I haven’t absorbed all I feel I should have to allow myself to feel that this is the end of the baby stage for me. Until Grandchildren come along. Grandchildren… Jeez Louise!
I am not sure what the answer is. At times I feel I am being incredibly selfish, I should be extremely happy with my lot shouldn’t I? I know lots of people who would be. After all, it is not it is not all about me and what I want. My husband will be more stressed out about being able to provide fully, and my children will have to do without things to accommodate another sibling.
Then at other times I feel I may regret not just getting on with it. I think that is what gets me. I mean, nobody wants any regrets do they? And so here I go, back and forth in this endless see-saw of internal arguments, for and against. For years this has been my daily internal dialogue. I am getting closer and closer to knowing that this dilemma will reach a conclusion one way or another. But the question is, which way?
Have you had similar dilemmas? Did you know when you had reached your family magic number?
Thanks for reading.