Friday, September 21, 2012

Family Mathematics

My husband and I knew we wanted more than one child before we'd had our first. (Heck, I knew I wanted more than one child before I had a husband!) We didn't exactly anticipate having another quite as soon as we did; some loving friends with a child the same age as our first told us that we were crazy when we announced the second pregnancy. In truth, it wasn't a mental condition but an illness of the heart; we'd been bitten by the love bug. Our 7 month old was sleeping through the night, was a good eater, had never had a fever nor a diaper rash, and the unpredictable early days were quickly becoming a distant memory.

Now as a mother of two tots I find myself having an internal daily debate about whether or not we should have a third. The overwhelming argument for is the simple equation that another child equals more love. There was a time when I wondered how I could ever love another as much as my first, but the most mind-blowing part of parenting is that one's capacity for love grows with each child. And then there is that child's potential love to both put into the world and to draw out of others which perpetually raises the world love-o-meter too. It may sound hokey, but, honestly, what's wrong with more love? (Well, besides the increased work and stress and money and landfill space it takes to raise that little love machine.)

Our #2 has rather seamlessly fit into our family. It helps that so much of the world is set up for foursomes: cars, dinner tables, board games, roller coasters - not that we've taken him on any amusement park rides as of yet. In my experience, the second baby is easier simply because I'm more relaxed; I hardly check in with parenting books and have visited the doctor for check-ups less often too. The second learns to "deal" as the firstborn sometimes takes precedence (i.e.: when the older one is about to run into oncoming traffic the younger one might just have to cry while safely buckled into the stroller parked with the brake on well out of harm's way). 

Of course, we already had all the baby paraphernalia, all we had to get was a second car seat and a double stroller (see previous post). Personally, I don't miss alcohol much as I never got back into the habit after the first, so I kind of forget what I'm missing now that it's more than three years on the wagon. And, let's face it, breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding and cuddling experience and the cuddles are a top reason to do it all over again. 

On the downside, getting a family of four out the door, to the dinner table, or into bed takes more time, though at least with two kids there is still a parent to wrangle each child. Also, with each subsequent baby, there is the fear (and the fact) of losing further touch with the working world and one's career and personal aspirations. 

One mom friend of mine recently returned to her job after her second maternity leave ended and she found work to be a welcome change of pace. She said it was a luxury to be able to focus on something without being disturbed by persistent whining... for the first week. Soon her decent job became "same old" all over again. As for myself, as someone who decided not to return to the ol' 9-5 and is choosing to keep my kids at home and out of daycare for a little while longer than mat leave allows, I try to keep one or two toes in the working world so that I don't end up with a big gap on my resume. Despite knowing the truth of it, "stay at home mom" just doesn't cut it when explaining what you did for those "unemployed" years. 

My hubby and I are in agreement not only about our kids not going to daycare right away but also about the benefit of siblings. We each value our sibling relationships so much that we couldn't deprive our kids of it. 

When all is said and done, the truly unpredictable baby days (the first 3 or 5 months of a wee one's life) are challenging because of the lack of sleep and readjusting to it all, but I honestly believe that if I had five kids or nine it would be the same: I would make it work. I figure I will not ever regret having another but I might actually regret not having one if I don't.


  1. Regretting something you didn't do is so much worse, isn't it? I'm with you on the siblings thing. Even if they never become best buds or even hate each other, they still gain something from having a sibling, I think. I suspect two kids will be enough for us, though I am one of three, so... ;)

  2. My maxim of 2012 has been "don't ask, don't get". Maybe for 2013 I'll adopt "don't do, don't regret".
    And two kids is enough four or five days a week, but there ARE seven days in a week!

  3. I think the math goes more like this:

    1+1+1= 2.5

    File this under tricky math. Anyway, you have plenty of time. Just wait until Oakley is old enough to babysit or at least in range. And then 1+1+1 will = 2!

  4. Sounds to me like another couple of years of baby-rearing alcohol celibacy is expected.