I guess I’ve always seen myself having a big family. I’ve always loved watching those typical American movies where all the grown up kids come home for Christmas and where the mom is always still very much the mom. All the siblings would tell stories and reminisce about their childhood. Usually in the very house they have returned to for the holidays. Even though all five (or six) of them have gone on to live separate lives, the bond they share is strong enough to survive the long distance, the fights over the phone, the fact that neither of them know very much about what is going in each others lives. I loved the chaos at dinner times (as though nothing had changed since they were toddlers), the quirky traditions and the connection they all felt. Despite the years. Despite the distance.
That was my idea of family. I guess a part of it is the mother in me hoping that even when my babies leave the nest, I will still have a family to cook for and celebrate special moments with. That my children will still come stay with us in the holidays. But I also just wanted to hear the pitter patter of lots of little feet. I wanted to bring lots of newborns home from the hospital.
Which is why it was a shock to discover my husband didn’t share my same vision. During our pre marriage course one of the topics that came up was family and children. How many children do you see yourself having they asked? Easiest question I’ve ever had to answer and without the slightest hesitation my answer was scrawled on the page. As though the extra force would set these dreams in stone. 4. I wanted 4 children. Maybe more, but nothing less. The problem arose when it was time to discuss these dreams and my sweet husband-to-be revealed his answer: 2. Maybe less, nothing more. I felt myself getting all sweaty. He would be happy with one kid? One silly little lonely child? Who would tease him and drive him crazy? Who would he learn from and bond with? Who would he explore the world with, drive his parents mad with? And worse, what would dinner- time be like growing up? I always picture a family with one nerdy little boy with a jersey tied around his neck. Eating oh so perfectly with a knife and fork. The carbon copy of his far too serious father. A tad too civil and normal for me thanks you very much.
Of course he eventually came around to having two. And this brings us to the present day. We have created two of the most adorable and sweetest boys on the planet. Fact. And its funny how life works because there have been times where he will look at the boys and then with a twinkle in his eye say the words i’ve been dreaming he will say, lets go for number three. I could have another one! But that’s just the adoring dad speaking in the calm we have it all together moments. Fast forward those few seconds and we find ourselves pulling a child off the burglar bars or mopping up their lunch off the floor. Fast forward those tender romantic moments and he is straight back at square one. I love the fact that he has become open to the idea, but lately we both sway between feelings of wanting more and being so over it we are prepared to perform our own vasectomy at home. (His exact words: pass me a rusty blade and prepare the hot water and towels!) Anything to lessen our chances of having another child to look after. Another child to prevent from hurling them self off the couch and splitting their lip open. Another child to clean, bath and feed every single day, three times a day.
I’ve been pretty adamant on having another one especially since Brody has become a walking talking toddler. I constantly find myself looking at him with the aching question Is he really my last? or How could I not want more of that? but lately I must admit that those moments are becoming few and far between. Just last week, we had a play date at our house and I thought icing cookies with crimson red icing would be a fabulous (note the sarcasm) idea for the older boys. All was going smoothly up until my adventurous little 1 year old decided to pull a chair up against the counter, climb on it and pour the entire bottle of food coloring all over my kitchen. I don’t know if you heard the first time, but it was CRIMSON red. It took me over an hour of mopping and bleaching to get the place remotely clean and pink free again. Not even half an hour later Brody’s beloved Benji (a name we adopted from his cousin for his soft sleep toy) landed bottom first in the delicious lamb stew I was cooking for supper. Apparently Benji had been invited to a game of soccer Stars. Only he became the ball. And it would seem my pot become the goal. So there I was with hands dyed red, pink floors, stew all over the stove, a pot of food with a fluffy rabbit in it, hungry and tired kids and it hit me. I think I could be done. How much more of this can I tolerate and when for crying out loud will I ever get my life back? Yes it was just a bad day but through cloudy teary eyes I looked at my husband and shouted, You win. I don’t want any more children. Poke me with a fork I’m done.
They say the longer you wait the more time there is to justify all the reasons why you shouldn’t have another baby. It makes sense. Slowly as you start getting pieces of your life back and slowly as you come out of the trenches, life becomes a little easier again. You still have days where you may find a (toy) rabbit in your stew or days where you can barely go the toilet on your own, but life becomes sweeter again. To have another one would mean returning to the trenches. It would mean many more sleepless nights, another mouth to feed (non stop), and let’s not forget a bigger car and the dreaded three in one travel system. Those words alone make my uterus dry up. Back to heavy prams and an overcrowded boot. I’m just not sure I could do it. Add to all these things the cost of raising a child and slowly I find myself surrendering my BIG family dreams.
Right at this moment, my 15 month old is having a 2 hour nap (a lovely habit he has settled into) and my 3 and a half year old (who is home from school with a cold) has just drifted off to sleep and as I sit and write, it dawns on me. I’m quite happy. Happy to have this glorious time to myself yes, but also, happy with my life. I’m perfectly satisfied (for the meantime) with my two little boys and the fun adventurous life we share together. What once was a desperate need has become a less urgent desire. Maybe one that will fade and eventually be lost altogether. Or maybe one that will return to me in the near future. Like an old flame ignited. And one that will never, no matter what the cost, ever burn out.