After the birth of our daughter at 34, we were adamant that we would have two children. We had discussed the second child dilemma and had ideas about when we might consider trying for our second.
That was the first year.
During years 2 and 3, through a combination of struggling to juggle work and home life, family and friend bereavements, little local support and a rather aggressive and challenging toddler, all of a sudden, the idea of adding a second child into the mix became a sheer terrifying prospect.
The ‘one and done’ motto became a reality and actually, we went so far as to decide to pay for private education for our precious only child. The reasoning was that, if I was to spend so much time working to earn money, it would be far more rewarding to spend that money on her education rather than just whittling it away on a nice car or nice holidays. It’s a sensible decision, isn’t it?
This tact has helped to negate the guilt I felt for working full-time and not being the SAHM that my own Mother was. **I’m such a bad parent**
I had researched and researched having a second child. It remains firmly in my mind. I have questioned myself, my partner, friends, relatives, colleagues, websites, anyone that will talk to me about it really. I would ask questions such as:
- What is the age gap between your children?
- How did you cope with 2,3,4 children?
- Do you think our daughter’s aggression is because she doesn’t see her Mummy as much as some of her other friends see theirs?
- Is it selfish to not give her a sibling?
- Do you get on with your siblings?
- How did you feel growing up as an only child?
- Is our daughter’s obsession with dolls because she doesn’t have a sibling?
- How could we ever afford to have another?
- How did you afford more than one child?
- Is it easier the second time around?
- How many of her friends have siblings?
- Is her reluctance to play by herself at home due to the fact that she loves other people?
- Is 38 too old to have a second?
- Do people think she’s spoilt?
- Will she fit in at a private school?
- Shall we get rid of all the newborn and toddlers clothes and toys now?
- Shall we just keep a few of the nice toys and clothes, just in case?
It has been relentless.
Of our reasonably small circle of good friends, we have several who are popping out children like rabbits, others that have desperately wanted more but are struggling, and some who, like us, think they could be content with just one.
There is no right answer. There is also, no wrong answer.
For a long time, I felt very resentful of those that could have two children or more because of their support network. Those whose parents lived round the corner and regularly helped with childcare, babysitting, being on-call for sudden nursery illness. Even just providing a nice local place to pop round for a Sunday lunch where the parents could relax a bit and the children would just run around happily, getting attention from their devoted in-laws.
In emergencies, like the dreaded pox, I did make a mercy call to my parents and funded their journey up for a couple of days to help out. However, those have been few and far between and actually when we’ve asked to be relieved of our parenting duties for a night or two, occasionally it has been met with disappointment. How could we actually want to forgo our precious weekend time with our daughter for a couples-only jolly?
The more I deliberated over things, the worse I felt and the worse our relationship became. The clear path of parenthood from the first year had well and truly disappeared and all of a sudden we were on a different trajectory. We worked to pay bills, we joined a wine club, booked a holiday, bought cute school uniform and just accepted what we thought was the right thing to do for our family even though in the back of my mind, the question of having a second child still remained.
Part 2 of this blog post will be separate. If you want to read it, be warned that it could be upsetting for you, but it is my honest account and may resonate with someone out there.