The time comes in the life of every married couple with children when they have to make a choice — should they have more children or are they finished?
That time is here for my wife and I. And no matter how many blogs I read about the topic or people I speak with, there is no easy answer to this question. Each person has their own thoughts, complete with their own set of circumstances, agendas and philosophies. Despite the advice — which ranges from “YES, DO IT!” to “Race to the nearest surgeon and demand an immediate vasectomy!” — my decision is still a work in progress.
I’m largely a pragmatic person, tackling problems or questions with thought, pro/con lists and a careful weighing of the evidence. I make rationed, reasoned decisions. But this decision has me stumped. That’s because of the emotional factor. This is not merely about whether we can afford to have a third child (it would be a challenge) or whether we have room (we can make room) or whether we have the emotional capacity to love a third child (we absolutely do). This is about all of those things. And more.
It’s also about not wanting to disappoint my wife.
I’m 42. She’s 33. (Please, hold the “robbing the cradle” jokes.) She still feels as if she’s in the prime of her child-bearing years. And she is. She glows when she is pregnant and both times we went through a pregnancy it was filled with joy, anticipation and enormous excitement. I’m certain that a third pregnancy would bring more of the same.
But there are fears — what if a third child straps our already thin budget? What impact would a third child have on the opportunities we can provide him/her as well as our other two children? What would happen to our well-oiled schedule that we have now? The fear of a lack of sleep and three more years of buying diapers doesn’t concern me as much. Those impediments are only temporary.
I’ve learned during my “research” that you do not regret the children you have. Rather, you regret the children that you don’t. I have one sibling; my wife has 2. But our parents each have large families with 3 or more siblings each. There is a comfort in having multiple siblings and I wonder how the lives of my two boys would be enriched if they have another brother or a little sister.
And, not to sound egotistical, but my wife and I are excellent parents. We are raising quality children and imbuing them with the skills and abilities we believe they will need to survive and thrive. We dote on them, we discipline them and we listen to them. Parenting them brings me more joy than anything else I have ever done personally or professionally.
So, what to do? There are moments when I am certain that I do not want any more children. I’m content with our kids and feel like we are in a sweet spot for parenting. Then, I vacillate. Another happy, healthy child would be a blessing.
Maybe the answer is to get a pet instead.