Over the last ten years, I’ve seen many moms and moms-to-be struggle when people comment about the sex of their children, or ask when they are having more. You know, the mom of five boys who is repeatedly asked when they are trying for a girl? The mom of only girls who is continually asked about whether she wants a boy or not? I have a boy and a girl myself, so you probably wonder how this affects me.
When I was pregnant with my second child, of course people inquired whether I was having a boy or a girl. Once they found out that I had a girl on the way after already having a boy, I was often told, “That’s wonderful! Now you have a complete family!”
This struck me a bit. I know these folks did not intend to be insulting. They wanted to be friendly, involved, and excited for me. I was never nasty to them. I smiled and nodded and let it go. But I started wondering how that would have made me feel if I wanted a third child, fourth child, or tenth child. In addition, having had multiple friends who suffered miscarriages, I also wondered if that same comment would have brought back the pain of a loss between pregnancies. The feeling that you would never feel you had a complete family because of that loss.
After a lot of reflection, I want to say that I don’t have a complete family just because I have a boy and a girl, but I do have a complete family because I am done having children.
5) There aren’t any more bedrooms in my house.
Currently we only have two bedrooms in our house. We aren’t really in a position to move anytime soon, either. I suppose I could change that by giving up my office space (which doubles as my kids’ playroom). However, that seems like a lot of work for me, and getting my children to sacrifice their play space. If my office/their playroom became our master bedroom, we would sleep downstairs and the children’s rooms would be upstairs (or one of them down, and us upstairs). In all honesty, I prefer sleeping on the same level as my kids.
While we could make the space for a fifth family member, the situation wouldn’t be ideal.
4) Potty training is HARD.
My son had anxiety that made it difficult to potty train him. In the end, I didn’t potty train him; he did it himself, on his own terms. With my daughter, it has been hard to find anything that motivates her to use the toilet. (Although, over the last couple of weeks, she has finally made some good progress). At this point, potty training a third child sounds less than appealing. I long for the day I do not have to deal with diapers and pull-ups. My wallet does too.
3) Financially, fitting a third child into our budget would make our tight budget tighter.
Speaking of my wallet, I know we would figure it out if we had to, but I cannot possibly imagine what paying for a third child would entail.
I became a stay at home mom after the birth of my second child. Of course, this was partly because I wanted to spend as much time with my kids as possible. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, even if I continued working the part-time job I had, we wouldn’t have been making any money after daycare costs.
Factor in money for food, extracurricular activities, after school programs, a bigger vehicle, etc. and the thought of having a third child seems ridiculously financially overwhelming to me.
2) My kids think we have a complete family, too.
Ok, so I am kind of kidding here. We would have a third child if I and my husband wanted to, despite what our other children think. However, my youngest has made it very clear to me that she would not only like to remain the “baby” in our family, but that she feels strongly about it.
About a year or so ago, when my daughter was two, I was telling my kids that my cousin was having her baby soon. Even though I knew we were done trying to have children, I jokingly asked my kids if I should have another baby. While my son said, “Nah, no more babies, Mom,” my daughter’s response was a bit more emphatic. She folded her arms and yelled, “NOOO! I THE BABY!” and stomped off.
Recently, I was leaving a local gymnastics center’s open gym. I looked down and saw a toddler trying to follow me and my daughter outside. “Oh no,” I told him, “You have to stay here.” After his parent came and and scooped him up, my daughter and I headed for our car. On the way she said to me, “He can’t come with us mom, right? We don’t need any more babies, right? No more babies, Mom!”
If there were a third baby in our home, the first few
months years would be trying, to say the least.
1) My sanity and stress levels.
Everyone is different. I think two is a perfect number of children for me. That is just how I currently feel.
I am amazed by parents who are able to juggle more than two children. Keeping track of the schedules of a family of four is plenty for my brain. A lot of days, I can barely do that. Also, my children get along well and sometimes like to gang up on me when their dad isn’t home. While I hold my ground, I can’t possibly see purposely planning the arrival of a third musketeer to add to their mischief.
In the end, of course, if something strange happened, my husband and I would welcome a third child into our family and figure out how to make it work.
All reasoning and kidding aside, people have a complete family when they say so. Having a complete family is not based on some imaginary rule(s) others think is ideal.
I hope that before people ask questions or make these types of comments they stop to think about what they are saying and how it might affect the other person. What if that mom of three boys tried for a girl and miscarried? What if that mom of one is trying to have another and cannot?
My advice: just help parents celebrate their children, no matter whether they have boys or girls and no matter how many they have. All of these little lives are blessings. Parents love their families just as they are; one child or five, no girls or half boys, half girls.