I first started writing this when saw a post like two weeks ago in a Facebook moms group asking other moms how difficult it was of a transition from two kids to three. The original poster said that her husband wants another baby or if not another baby, then to get rid of all the baby stuff laying around their house. She's on the fence about having a third. So she's crowdsourcing it. I didn't finish writing it because I know I've written about this subject before and I just didn't know if it was worth it.
Then, over the weekend, I saw another similar post. Someone on the fence about a second because of childcare and money concerns. By the time I saw it, there were already a ton of posts saying how awesome it is to have a litter of kids, it's hard financially, but they can't imagine life any other way. What tipped me into head explosion territory though, and caused me to revisit finishing this entry was the one who said- "I have four kids. I've never forgiven my parents for not giving me a sibling.". I am pretty sure I said WTF out loud. That girl needed therapy, not four kids. I had to jump into the post, of course, because it all sounded insane.
First, this whole idea of trying to make a decision about birthing another human and raising it based on other people's experiences sounds crazy to me. I get possibly asking close friends and/or family if you're tight. But to just ask a board of randoms how the transition was for them is about as helpful as asking if someone else can function enough to go to work with a migraine. Well, that would depend on many different things, none of which pertain to you! No one knows your life but you. Whether I can function at work with a migraine doesn't mean you can. What kind of work do we both do? How do we process pain? It is a desk job or dealing with people?
Regardless of how baffling the question is, equally as bizarre are the answers. Every time a question like this is asked, there have to be like more than fifty responses. Most of them are people with three, four and five kids, who don't know this woman from a hole in the wall, telling her to go for it. It's the best thing they ever did. They can't ever go anywhere and they're always worried or fighting with their spouse about money, but it's the most amazing thing watching them grow...
Well, sure, I'd assume they can't imagine life without all their kids. But just because someone wants something, doesn't mean they should have it. We all don't just get everything we want. It's not an exotic pet. It's a child. On the same board, at any given time of the day, someone is talking about how they have a bunch of kids, they are stressed about money, they can't work outside the home because they can't pay for childcare for all their kids, and want to know what kind of work they can do from home. Many of these people on the board, will just tell any woman on the board who asks about whether to have more kids, to "just do it". "Go for it!", or "Your fertility doesn't wait".
Go for it? What is it about parenthood that makes people so invested in OTHER people procreating? Why does no one ask the hard questions- like, "Do you have the finances to support another child in the way you'd want to raise them?". Because that's always my FIRST question. People love to say, "it'll just work out!" or "if you wait until you're financially ready, you'll never have a kid". Um, no. There is such a thing as being financially able. Or at least financially planned. Then there is financially secure. Finally, there is financially secure enough to do it the way you want to do it. How about thinking for a minute about reality vs fantasy? Is your desire to hit the number of kids you've always envisioned for yourself more important than being able to give them a life you want them to have. I'm not even talking about material things. How about experiences? Do you want to be able to eat out in restaurants? Go on vacations? Have them take classes, have birthday parties? Go to camp?
One mom flipped out on me saying that maybe some people have different values and value having more kids more than material things. That is true. But no matter what you value, basic needs have to be met. Food, clothes, a roof over your head. Electric. Heat. And you don't know someone else's situation. Like I said in the one thread, it's irresponsible to tell someone you don't even KNOW to just "go for it". The only correct answer is- "It's a very personal decision. If you're having trouble making it, go to a trusted advisor, with all your information and feelings, and see if they can help guide you". Sure, we can all give personal experiences. But if you don't live the same exact existence as I do, does it even matter? Otherwise, they're meerly just anecdotes. Further, the number one reason couples fight and/or divorce is money. A huge thing to think about: Is having a certain number of kids the priority or is staying married.
People always say you might regret not having one more but you'll never regret having that one more. That is totally false. I've been on message boards since I found them in the mid-90's. I've been through hundreds of "confession threads" someone says they have 2 or 3 and while they wouldn't be able to decide on which one to give back, they feel like they were only cut out to be a parent of one or one less. Because they're so tired, they have no money, no help, no time for themselves, they have to work but always envisioned themselves a stay-at-home-mom, etc.
Someone else said that it's difficult now, while they're small, but it will be so rewarding with all the kids and grandchildren. Do people not realize that their life as they knew it as kids does not just automatically replicate itself? There are no guarantees. No guarantees your kids are going to get along with their siblings or that they'll feel any obligation to see you or take care of you in your twilight years. Or that they're even going to have kids! I'm forty years old and I have one child. I have two siblings, neither of which have children. I have no idea if they ever will. And my mom passed away when my son was seven months old. So she had three kids, one grandkid and then she died. Good thing she wasn't a gambler, putting her money on getting to enjoy a house full of grandchildren. So I hope she didn't have the three of us with that expectation.
I just don't know why other people feel so compelled to want others in their baby factory club. It's SO strange to me! Never in my life have I told someone I think they should just take a leap and have a first child, let alone more. I have no idea if having more kids would be a good or bad thing for anyone. Including people I know well. *I* didn't know how I'd be after having a child. When I was in my early twenties, I just assumed I'd have three children. I guess because my mother did. I didn't think any further than that. Until I reached thirty and had a totally different life than what I was living in my twenties. Then, having a child, I was totally different than I thought I would be once my son was born. Not in a good or bad way- just different. Everyone's life is different- more or less help, better or worse spouse or partner, more or less family around and/or involved. There are a ton of different factors. Money is a big one. It's a lot easier to manage a house full of kids when you have a nanny or family member helping out. Or even just knowing that money isn't an issue or something to stress over. Speaking of help, there are people who let their families and in-laws practically raise their kids and people who have no family and no (free) help whatsoever. Help makes a HUGE difference.
There is a couple I know peripherally. Many times when they post photos of their kid, there is someone who inevitably comments that it's time to have another. They make "beautiful kids" so they should have more. Or the pictures show their kid is happy so they're obviously good parents and should have more. I have no idea why anyone would tell someone they have nothing but a friendly connection with to have more kids. Because they'll most likely be attractive? Or that their lives look nice on social media so they owe it to themselves to procreate more? How do any of these reasons make sense? Every time this one person tells this couple to have more, I want to ask - "Why? Why do you DO that?? What if they CAN'T or just plain don't want to have more?? Is that not ok? Are they doing the world a disservice by not bringing more attractive children into the world?".
I was able to answer that original poster, and any going forward, in two words. Know yourself. Of course I couldn't leave it at those two words but that's the root of it all. Know yourself. Think about whether you can be content and happy with what you have. I know people with three and four kids. Some seem like a traveling shitshow of a circus all the time. Some seem like they should be giving YouTube seminars on how to parent a baseball team of kids while still looking put together while having kids and a home that look like they could be photographed for a magazine at the drop of a hat. No one can tell you which you'll be. I have friends who had postpartum depression and friends who seemed easy breezy after giving birth. And it was sometimes shocking with the ones who fell apart.
No one can tell you whether you should have another child. But until you can definitively tell yourself that you should and that you have a good reason, be honest with yourself. Don't fixate on a timeline or a certain number. Don't be guilted or pushed. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Think about the future and what you want out of life for you. How you want your kid(s) to be raised. What you want your social life and experiences to look like for all of you. Know that you aren't your parents. Be realistic about your job/work situation, life balance, and finances.
Realize that once one or more kids are here, you can't shove them back in.
Moms of many said in these threads that it's about sacrifice. You sacrifice to have this wonderful thing that is a giant family. We all sacrifice- whether we have one or one hundred. I have one, I'm not the poorest on the block, but I still sacrifice. In the name of trying to save some time and money, I've attempted on more than one occasion to give myself a Brazilian. I know better, but I also know what the fifty bucks can pay for. THAT, is sacrifice. But I'm not willing to sacrifice things for my KID that I don't *have* to just because I *want* a certain number of kids. I'm not sure that people understand what sacrifice really means. How about sacrificing that number you felt you needed to have, to give less children, more? I'm not saying that one is the magic number- I'm saying that being stretched too thin, for any number, one, two or twelve, is a sacrifice your children didn't ask to bear either. Sacrifice can go many ways.
One mom said to have the kids, stay home, and just sacrifice. Because that's why we have kids. I wish I had a bug eyed stare emoticon for that one. That isn't why *I* had a kid, for sure.
For those that try to get people into your procreation club like sisters rushing potential pledges, think about your motivations for telling someone to just "go for it" without any important details of their life. You give your little speech, they go for it, and then what? You're not around for the emotional, financial, or marital fall out. Stop projecting what's good for you on them and just tell them it's a very important decision that takes much personal thought and reflection.