Long before I had children, someone told me that when you are done adding to your family, you just know. I remember nodding, and hoping it was true. And then I reached the period in my life where those kinds of decisions need to be made. It turns out, at least for me, it's not nearly as simple as all that.
Whether or not there is a third baby for us has been a very hot topic lately at our house. And it's not a case of my husband or I wanting another child while the other doesn't. No, we are both sitting on the fence, staring at the murky ground on either side and wondering which is the better way to go. I'm so incredibly disappointed that I just don't know.
While I'm not going to lay all our concerns out here (we have so many!), I feel comfortable discussing a few:
We only have two kids at this point, which in the Mormon world is nothing. I, however, am afraid that by adding more, I will reach the point where I cannot emotionally give to them what they deserve. I am pretty sure I could love another one no problem, but I learned from my own family that love alone will only get you so far.
I was one of seven, and I had a mother that constantly shut down or freaked out because she was so overwhelmed with us. She literally could not mother us adequately. I look back now and feel sad for her because I understand so much better why she was the way she was. I am also determined that I will not make the same mistake. Because there genuinely is a point where there are too many kids and love is not enough. While I am aware there are plenty of people who can effectively parent a lot of kids, I really don't think I am one of them.
A second issue is my husband's career. We've recently decided that we will be seeing this military thing through, so we've got about 11 more years of an ever-shifting, demanding schedule plus deployment to live. I'll be single parenting a lot, and adding more to the family is only going to make that more difficult.
Both of these reasons are factoring into the negative side, I realize, but there are positives, too. Our boys desperately want a younger sibling for some reason, and sometimes it seems to me that three is what makes our family feel complete. I am just not sure, however.
So, I have a request of all of you who have faced this decision and made it one way or another: How did you decide you were done? Do you regret that decision now? Or are you very sure it was the right one? What sorts of things made the difference? Is there any truth at all to the statement, "you'll just know when you're done"? Sometimes it helps to hear the thoughts of others when grappling with such weighty decisions.
-----Ana is a restless soul who would love to keep moving around the world the rest of her life. This is probably why she married a submariner in the U.S Navy seven years ago. They have two energetic little boys, and currently live in the Bahamas. She blogs about life in paradise at Sunrise on the Water.
Pic is from Flikr.