How Many Children Do I Hope To Have?
This post originally appeared on Mothering Matters for their April 2017 The Future issue.
This is a tough subject for me. I am not one of those people who dreamed about my wedding, my children, their names, my entire future. I was not even sure about wanting children. But my goodness my two girls are the absolutely most incredible parts of my life with my husband. And I can’t imagine this world without them and love them more than I ever though was possible.
I can plan family holidays for hours a day, but when it comes to our 5 year plan or where we see ourselves in 10 years, I have no idea. I’m slightly jealous and confused by my friends who tell me their grand plans of where they will be living in 2 years or 5 years. They have a whole grand plan. I have the same uncertainty about knowing how many children we will have. All I know is that I love them more than I ever imagined and they have changed my life for the better in all the ways.
But how do I know when our family is complete? How do I know if we should have a third child?
My two daughters are the same age as my sisters were when my mom fell pregnant with me. They are five and seven years old. They are both at school and very independent, and I have been thinking about what our life would be like if we had a third child. I am the youngest of three girls: my sisters are five and eight years older than I am. They always seemed so much older than me that I thought I was an “accident.” But now that I am in the exact same time in my life as my mother was, I’m really wondering about a third child. Would it be hard? Absolutely. I am living in a foreign country and have not had a child in Switzerland before. Am I too old? At 37, I wonder if my body can handle a pregnancy as well as it did the first two when I was so much younger.
Not one for long-term plans, I didn’t dream about having babies growing up. As the youngest child, I never thought about having children. It just didn’t seem to be the path I was on. It is so amazing the way life has worked out for us as now I can’t imagine my life without my children.
I have thought for years that two children is absolutely the perfect number for our family. We travel often, and having two children makes so much mathematical sense (who thinks like this?). We sit four across in the middle of the plane on long flights. On short flights we sit two and two. In the car, two kids fit perfectly in the back seat. There is one child for each parent. Would a third child even fit into our flat? My daughters share a bedroom and their two beds fit just perfectly in the room and they share so well. I will have to check IKEA for creative bedroom arrangements.
There are moments when I want to have a third child. My daughters are constantly asking for a baby sister. How do I know when we are done having children? Maybe part of it is that I was working full time when both girls were born. They immediately went into full-time daycare and I always felt guilty about that. I felt guilty at work, I felt guilty while pumping in a tiny room at the Amazon offices. Instead of carrying around my Medela pump, I should have been carrying around my baby. Oh the guilt I put on myself.
Maybe this is the next phase of my life as an expat. This could be the time to get out into the career world again. Or I could just enjoy these moments with my currently growing little girls and every new moment in their lives as it comes. I wonder why I can’t enjoy more of the here and now and stop constantly looking for bigger and better things around the corner.
How many children did you want in your ideal family? Did your number change throughout your marriage and raising of your children? Did you have a plan that you followed to the letter?