Q and A
Now Dylan is over a year old I get asked questions like “when are you having your second?”, or “have you thought about a little brother or sister for Dylan?” or “ when is number two coming along?” This means essentially people are asking about my sex life, something I would keep private, thank you very much.
I sometimes even get told “you are not getting any younger, better get on with it if you want more children”. I guess they are referring to my biological clock ticking rather than the fact that I am decrepit old hag, but hearing words to that affect does not make me feel like a sexy woman in the mood for baby-making.
What I usually say back is something brief like, “Dylan is only one, plenty of time yet” or “I’ve just started back at work, I am not thinking about it right now” or even more flippant “I quite enjoy wine and sushi and don’t want to give either up at the present time”. But what I really want to say is quite different.
Why Have Children?
I guess I have brought this on myself. I have always said I would have kids. Plural. I even bought a pram that converted to two sitting areas. Not many people go around saying they are planning one child. You always say children. But why have we all thought this?
Is it an evolutionary need to procreate? Or are you just expected by society to get married and have children? I could spend the rest of my time reviewing the nature versus nurture debate on where the desire for children comes from, but my point is, do not for a minute be fooled into thinking that our collective desire for children has come from some rational and independent mode of thinking.
The Many ‘Reasons’ to Have a Second Child
Now when I look at it logically, every single reason to convince me to have a second child is, quite frankly, bollocks. Is this really the best you can come up with to persuade me to bring a child into this world, to nurture a human being for the rest of my life? Here are some reasons and my responses to them:
|An only child is selfish/ weird/ insert negative adjective here||This is an untrue and harmful stereotype|
|Having two children means they can amuse each other||Well not in the first few months and then when they are older how long will it be before they start to fight over a toy or game and you have to intercede? See below.|
|Siblings have a special bond and it is not good to deny Dylan of that||I am not sure about others, but most of my childhood I remember my sister and I pinching each other, pulling hair, biting and hitting whenever our parents weren’t looking. We loved each other and also wanted to fight all the time. I think having a sibling teaches you humility and how to defend yourself more than anything else.|
Two Darn Good Reasons Not To
The reasons not to have another child seem a lot more compelling to me right now.
Firstly, I have one happy, healthy, amazing little boy. He makes me laugh every day. I have a cosy little home, a devoted husband and a relatively balanced routine around work and family. I have it ALL. I am extremely grateful to even be in the position I am in and to even (hopefully) have the choice of a second child. I have a number of friends dealing with fertility issues who may be unable to even have one. Heck, there are entire societies in the world that are restricted with this type of choice. I already have more abundance than most people could hope for in a lifetime, so why spoil it?
The second reason is almost the flip side of the coin to the first. Really, when it comes down to it I am not sure if I can go through it all again. I had a pretty good pregnancy, but I am still not sure if I am ready for feeling nauseous, the overwhelming fatigue, ridiculously painful calf-muscle cramps that rip you out of your sleep at night, and ankles so swollen that towards the end of my pregnancy I could only wear slippers. Although my labour was considered relatively straightforward, it was not exactly the most pleasant few hours of my life. And then those newborn days – the lack of sleep, crying and constant hunger (and that was just me).
How do I face it all over again, and this time with a loud active little boy? What if my pregnancy is worse? How do I run after a toddler at 8 months pregnant? When will I be able to nap? How do I get a newborn to sleep with a toddler yelling? Everyone says having two is exponentially harder than one, so how will I cope?
What I Really Want to Say
Think about what you are really saying when you are asking me whether I have thought about having a second child. What you are asking me is this: have I thought about possibly the biggest decision of my life so far? Have I thought about changing my body, changing my family dynamic, changing my career prospects, possibly moving house, going through labour again and how two children will impact on my finances from now until I die?
What I want to say to you is this – I think about having another child every single day. And thinking does not help in the slightest.
So please STOP for a minute. Giving me ‘good’ reasons or putting pressure on me to have another slice of cake will probably work, but we are talking about choosing to have another child here.
I have been on the biggest rollercoaster of my life over the past year and I am not sure I want to get on the ride again, at least not right now. I need some space, I need to breathe. I don’t need to think, I need to feel. I need to feel hungry for this next slice of cake. I need to find the desire to bring another human into this world.
I have been assured that this feeling will magically strike, probably in the near future, so right now I am going to have a glass of wine, relax and read a book. And in the meantime, go on, ask me when I am having my second child – I dare you.