We have some good days and bad days over here with two preschoolers. Extremely cute “up” moments and really low moments of tantrums that are so much stronger than they were as babies. Full-out attitudes and “sad choices” that carry consequences. Conversations about how things work where it is so fun to see their little minds working. Hugs and “I love you Mommy”s, and times when things are thrown at me. All of these things pop into my head when someone asks the question, “Are you having any more kids?”. As inappropriate as that question might be from a stranger, the frequency with which I get asked makes me realize that we actually don’t know the answer yet.
Because we were married older and waited for a few years to have our children, I remember how it felt to be in a room of other married couples (most of whom were younger than us), each with 1-2 babies. I would come home and tell Christian about how the women talked about babies, breastfeeding, sleep and poop for HOURS and how I was SO BORED. I remember how our relatives would assume we’d travel at holidays for them because we didn’t have a “real” family yet. And how insignificant and marginalized that all made me feel, even though we knew we were being true to our own leadings at the time.
Then I had two babies in two years and I was suddenly “in the club”. Not just the mommy club but also the second-time mom club too, making me more than a newbie, quickly. As hard as it was for those first 3 years, I was in good company. We had followed what we felt led to do and it was good. It came along with some hard-earned camaraderie from other moms.
My two kids are now 3 and 4 years old. No longer babies, no longer as needy. I’ve picked up a few part time jobs that I love. I look around at the choices my husband and I have made according to what we feel led in the past few years and I feel good about all of them, but…I’m out of place again.
All of a sudden, my community of mom friends each have three, four, or even five kids. I once again have the opportunity to feel like I haven’t quite qualified. Answering the question, “How many do you have?” with “Oh, only two”. As if having only two kids is like having no kids at all. I start wondering where we fit in. Is it time to have more children?
I still don’t know how to answer that question.
But one thing I do know: choosing to have another child is not about what other people think.
So maybe my friends are great big-family moms. Good for them! I am always learning from them, and I’m blessed to know them.
But I am not my friend, I am me. Her husband is not the same as mine. We don’t make the same decisions. Deciding to have a third child just because “everybody else is doing it” is NOT a good reason to add another child to our family.
Another thing that I have to keep telling myself is: it is OK to take a break. I come from a long line of self-sacrificing moms. I am painfully aware of my tendency to over-commit and try to “do it all”. I have to say “no” intentionally to good things in order to create the space in my life to be peaceful and recuperate regularly. How could I teach my fitness clients about taking time for self-care and rest when I don’t practice for myself? Maybe this fun time of having two very energetic little buddies with me everywhere that I go is a sweet time of mommy friendship and fun that I can just savor for a while before adding the chaos of a new baby to the mix.
I also have to put aside fear. Fear of the age gap between second and third children being too large for them to be friends. Fear that I’m getting too old and will be risked out of the home birth that I want. Fear of the possibility of twins, which run on both sides of our families. If we do decide to have that third baby, it needs to be out of desire for that child, and not fear of what would happen if we don’t do it RIGHT NOW.
If nothing else, this time with only two children has given me the opportunity to think. A year from now, our family might still look exactly the same. Or it might not. And that’s OK.