So, I have been pondering over Baby #3 quite a bit lately. Before you get all excited, let me clarify that this does NOT mean I am ready to get pregnant again. What I mean is I have been wrestling in my mind about having a third child. When I was younger, I always thought I would have 4 or 5 kids. That was before I found out how challenging it is to be a mother. Now it's looking like three will be the max. Dan would be fine if we just stopped now, but I just feel like I'm not quite done. I'd like to have a son. Sure, there's no guarantee and both Dan and I cringe at the thought of three girls at once. Between Lily's drama and Amelia's strong will, I'm not sure if we could handle much more estrogen around here!
I'm not the greatest at managing the stress and demands of motherhood. I marvel at women who have 6 or 8 kids and appear to be so cool and collected. I just don't have it in me. I'm not sure if it's the stress of having to work at home while being a full-time mother, the fact that I have depression (albeit fairly well managed with medication), or if I'm simply just not cut out to have a lot of kids. Part of me mourns what seems to be a deficiency, the other part says "Hey, I've done my part, I've propagated the race." But I often ask myself, when I'm older, will I regret not having more children? I mean, the more kids you have, the more likely it is that at least one of them will like you enough to take care of you in your old age!
I was talking to a friend of mine a few days ago and she was saying that the infant stage is the hardest for her, with the lack of sleep, the constant feedings, etc. For me, (and this may be colored purely by the fact that I'm not in that stage anymore) I do OK with the infant stage. I love to photograph my babies, before they get too big and can run away, I love their small little bodies, and the overwhelming motherly feeling that says, "I can give you everything you need." But once they start walking and exert their independence, it gets harder and harder for me. The toddler years are the hardest because you have the combination of a child who wants to do everything themselves but they can't communicate what they need very well. It's extremely frustrating and I find my nerves unraveling more and more often.
Lily is at a super fun age right now (almost 6) because she's old enough to be pretty independent and she is intelligent enough to be able to have good conversation with, play a board game with (and not just Candyland, which makes you want to poke your eye out after 2 or 3 games) and she enjoys listening to chapter books. She's helpful and she loves to play with her friends, so that relieves a lot of expectations being put on me for constant assistance and entertainment. If kids could just go from infant to 4 or 5 years old, I might have a whole brood!
I often ask myself, "Am I weak? Am I allowing present challenges to hinder the long-term potential for joy in my posterity?" I think about what life will be like when I'm old and will I wish there were more kids and grandkids around? But Dan often asks me, "If you're so stressed out and struggling with the two kids you have, why in the world would you want more? More isn't going to relieve your stress; it will only add to it." Very true.
And yet two just doesn't seem like enough. So I guess the question is not whether to have a third, but WHEN to have a third. Lily and Amelia are 4 1/2 years apart. It's a bit longer of an age gap than I would like, but it has had many advantages. Lily is tremendously helpful and she loves her baby sister, but I worry about what their relationship will be like as they get older. Kids that are closer in age can play together better simply because their developmental levels are closer to each other's. All that being said, it was a very rude awakening to have a newborn, completely dependent, after getting used to a child who could feed herself, dress herself, wipe her own butt (well, mostly) and entertain herself.
Part of me says, "if you're gonna do it, just do it while you're still used to a dependent child instead of dragging it out over several years." But when I'm honest with myself, I'm not sure I could emotionally handle two super-needy kids at once. Plus, with our financial situation and our desperate need and intense commitment to getting out of debt, the next year or two would not be a good time for me to slow down working. Many of my friends have told me that three is the magical number for motherhood. Once you hit three, mothering is about all you can do. If I think it's hard to get any work done at home now, just imagine adding another kid to the mix!
So I have this dilemma. Wait, or just do it (pun intended.) And when I say just do it, the soonest I mean is probably when Amelia is 2.
And then there's the worry that even with our best efforts and intentions, the kid could come out looking like this:
(Man, am I glad Amelia had her back to the chair so no one could slap her and make her face freeze like that forever!)
The other thing I think a lot about in the kid department is how hard it is going to be when I reach the point where I realize that I won't be having any more kids. Creating a life, being pregnant, is such a magical and awe-inspiring thing. I can't imagine the void I will feel when I know that part of my life is over. My women friends who have reached that point, what did you go through and how did you deal?