The Struggle of the Juggle: Our Decision Not to Have More Children

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My husband and I have hit the age and stage in our lives where, not only are we asked almost daily if we are going to have more children, but we truly are struggling with the decision to have just one more. I’m not getting any younger and I’ve given myself a cutoff age of 35 if I decide to go for the gold on this. We have 2 beautiful, healthy sons and sure, I sit and fantasize of having a sweet baby girl.

I dream of how she would look, if she would resemble me. I think of how her big brothers would protect her for the rest of her life and how precious it would be to witness such a relationship. I could dress her in pink frill and take her to dance class. What about another little boy? I think of the closeness and bond 3 brothers would share. Wrestling matches in the living room like there are today, but with one more opponent.

My oldest asks for another brother at least once a month, and part of me is sure he would get one if we tried. The theories are beautiful and storybook like. I would be the mother who is proud of her 3 children and juggling the after school activities with grace and ease. I would cook them all spaghetti and meatballs after sports practice and they’d make a red sauced mess all over my dining room table, only to have me laugh endearingly as I watch.

But I have no idea who this person is that I create during these fantasies. She’s surely not me! She exists somewhere deep in my mind. The mother I’ll never be.

She’s calm and patient and only has aspirations of being the best mother and wife that exists. She has all the time in the world for her children’s thoughts, questions, activities and hobbies. She devotes her time to cooking for her family and crafting for the holidays. She’s s beautiful, funny, poised, and has endless amounts of class. Her husband is well taken care of. He is able to go to work and never worry about dinner being put on the table or getting the groceries bought. His wife and mother of his children would have all of that under control. She’s supportive of all of his desires and knows every rule in the game of football.

The reality is, I am some of those things, with a twist of sarcasm, a pinch of neurosis, a generous amount of anxiety, a dash of controlling tendencies, a heap of imbalanced hormones, and when heated to just the right temperature or set to boil, the ability to over communicate pleasant honesty or ugly truths. But that’s not to say I don’t try. I have the biggest heart, the desire to help people and more love and feelings than I know what to do with.

Here’s a little more truth for you. I am not calm. I’m actually kind of a wreck. I try to be patient, but it runs thin pretty quick. My aspirations are co-mingled with my goals, my husband’s goals and our hopes and dreams for our children. I make time for my children, I volunteer at school, but also need time for me and for my husband. And even then, I feel like we will always be struggling to juggle the balance of family time and everything else. I am no cook. I have never learned, so I wing it with recipes and things that come in a jar or a box. I have no time or patience for crafts, but I do a decent job when I want to. I may be somewhat cute and sometimes funny, but poised and classy are probably 2 things I fall very short on. I like to listen to extremely offensive rap and hip-hop music. My husband definitely takes better care of me than I do him at this stage in our lives, but I love that man to no end. I am supportive and am learning about football. But one thing I am certain of, I will never have any of it under complete control.

It was set in stone that I wanted a 3rd child, until the following day when I was suddenly positive that I didn’t. So I decided to research the topic. The mull over whether or not to have more children is in fact a real thing that women go through and write about. I found some great articles from mothers who struggle with the same feelings. I felt comforted by the camaraderie that we as women and mothers share.

There were many different perspectives on having more children, 2, 3, 4 or more. And what I found common on both ends of the spectrum was the question; how do you handle stress? The way we handle stress is an accurate indicator of how we will handle having more children. I understood this concept and agreed.

Deep down my head has told me I was done having kids. Who was I kidding? I can hardly handle the 2 I’ve got. But my heart always liked to drift off into another world where it was all so easy. Where we just follow our hearts and it all works out.

In my current state as a mother to Alijah, 6 and Parker, 2, I have my hands full. Alijah is the snuggle-bug who will fall asleep wrapped in my arms. Meanwhile, Parker will only allow me to touch him on his terms, yet won’t let me leave his side. He only shows me affection when he wants something from me, or is being separated from me. It’s like I’m stuck in the friend zone with my own son, and all I want is to be in the mom zone, the really cuddly mom zone.

I must be realistic about what having a 3rd child would mean for us. We have friends who will soon be having a third, and more who talk about having a big family, and we are so happy for them. We all differ in how we handle the demands of children; therefore, what’s right for me may be a far cry from what is right for the next woman.

After a lot of soul searching, being honest with myself, long talks with my husband and an epiphany of sorts, we’ve decided that another child is not what we really want. What we really want is to travel with our boys, provide them with the love and attention that is required for them to grow into healthy little humans. Give them as many experiences as we can for them to learn and transform into whatever their little hearts desire. They love each other so much and we are so happy and content to have given them the gift of life and brotherhood. And that is enough. For them and for us.

And yes, selfishly, it’s not just about what’s right and good for them. It’s about what’s right and good for my husband’s and my marriage and our careers. I have been working very hard to begin my career, and at the same time, juggling family and pregnancies. I need to give myself this opportunity to succeed and relish in the success. I needed a sense of finality on this topic and now feel content and satisfied with our decision.

We will always miss our children as small babies. But more so, we will enjoy the opportunities and experiences we will continue to share with them as they grow. While closing the chapter on making babies, we can focus on raising them in the next. I’ll be able to focus on my career and taking care of myself and begin to put my happiness on the list of priorities. Feels surprisingly selfish to say that, yet intensely liberating. My marriage, my role as a mother and our overall lives can begin a new chapter, starting with more sleep and maybe a little less coffee.

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