After having baby number four exactly two months ago (sob for babies growing up so fast and double sob because I still can’t fit into my pants), my husband and I have visited the debate almost daily of whether our family is now complete.
I know that many of you would probably take pause here and think something along the lines of, what on earth is there to think about? Isn’t four kids enough? but for the purposes of this story I will ask that we put our proper family size opinions aside.
The point is — every parent and every family unit is different, and in our case, I struggle with the notion that we could be “done” having children. After all, having young children, in a way, has become my identity — something that I know is true for a lot of other mothers. It’s what has become my “job” over the past six years, it’s what my personal and work life, as a writer, revolves around. I’m that woman who’s always pregnant or nursing or has a pack of young kiddos surrounding her at all times.
So to think that we could be “done” with that stage of our lives is — understandably so — a bit hard for me. It’s almost as if, with the extreme focus of modern parenting and all the good-natured parenting-is-so-hard-but-it’s-the-most-important-thing-you’ll-ever-do stories, I have somehow absorbed the notion that if I’m not parenting babies and toddlers and laughing with my fellow exhausted peers about potty training and breastfeeding, that I will cease to exist. I mean, look at social media and celebrity news these days — parenting the young crowd is in.
And I happen to like this stage in my life, for all its chaos and commotion. I simply can’t imagine that I will never breathe in the scent of another newborn baby or watch those first few smiles light up my world or clap as steps are mastered across our living room floor. Those are the moments that have made life, for me, worth living.
Needless to say, I am reluctant to close the door on our baby-making days forever and in our discussions, I’ve shared my feelings with my husband. In short, I love babies, I feel family is the most important thing, and how could we put an end to that?
But the other day, it dawned on me that maybe — just maybe — I was being just a tad selfish in my baby-centric thinking.
As we talked about our hopes for the future, my husband started talking, almost tentatively, as if he was whispering a dream he dare not speak too loudly for fear it wouldn’t come true: how much he was looking forward to more time to pursue some career aspirations as a woodworker.