Hi ladies! (And fellas? And others? I get the impression that it's mostly ladies around these parts--which is nice!)
Long-time lurker, first time poster. I'll do my best with all the groovy customary abbreviations, but please be patient with my inevitable clumsiness.
I feel that I need to consult the collective wisdom on the matter of whether I am, for lack of a better term, "morally justified" in having a second child. It's a long post, I know--I promise I do get to the point eventually.
DH and I fell pregnant (unexpectedly) a few years back and now have a wonderful, 4-year-old DS. I was an undergraduate student at the time, and he was a full-time hospitality worker.
DH has since gotten fed up with minimum-wage drudgery and is now studying law. I have finished my degree with first class honours, although that doesn't mean much, as I studied in the most wildly obscure and esoteric field imaginable. Seemed like a good idea coming out of high school; however, my employment prospects (in academia) resemble the odds of survival of a snowball in hell. My options are to either a) subject myself to a PhD (which would, admittedly, be something I would perversely enjoy) and then wait around for a decade, picking up the occasional tutoring job, until someone in my field drops off the tree, fight tooth and nail for their job (assuming the university chooses not to just shut down the department at that point), and then do that job for half the pay under borderline-exploitative conditions; or b) pick a different career.
B) seems like the way to go. Due to the way university admissions rules go, I wouldn't be able to enrol in a new degree until 2019. Basically, it's because I chose to go straight back to study after DS was born; studying with a newborn is hard enough, but add in a savage bout of PND and you have a recipe for a destroyed GPA. The university will discount those two years of straight 4s and only count my honours and penultimate year as long as five years have elapsed between my "dreadful student days" and admission. So I am left twiddling my thumbs between now an 2019.
I could, of course, find myself a minimum-wage hospitality job to keep myself occupied. But DH and I have been thinking that this might be a prime opportunity to expand our little family.
We both agree that we want our son to have a sibling. Originally we wanted a round half dozen, but we've realised that that would be impractical, seeing as it's very important to me to also have a challenging and fulfilling career.
DH and I know that it would be hard to have a baby and a primary-schooler around while he's studying. However, as a good friend (and self-described law widow) pointed out to me, DH will be around a lot more while he's studying than he will be in the first few years of working as a lawyer. We think it's best to have a second baby before DH basically moves into chambers full-time. He's even said he's prepared to go part-time study for two years if that's what needs to happen in order to keep everyone sane. (And given how keen, ambitious and driven he is, that's actually pretty huge.)
We have access to an excellent support network, as my devoted, loving mother is retired and would probably straight-up adopt our son given half a chance. My SIL is also legendary, with two young ones of her own and the biggest, kindest heart imaginable. We are very, very lucky.
Here's my moral quandary, though. My husband and I are currently living entirely off welfare. I am on Parenting Payment, he is on Youth Allowance (Student). We have exactly zero guilt or shame about this, as our DS was unexpected, and also the best thing that ever happened to us, and we will defend to the death my right to choose to keep the pregnancy, and his (DS's) right to access the resources he needs to live and thrive. We don't live large, obviously, but we are safe and nourished and we have access to opportunities to improve our lives, for which we are endlessly grateful.
But willingly having a second child and effectively expecting the state to foot the bill sits uneasily with me. A second child would nourish our family, and would be deeply loved. We all--DH, DS, my mother, my SIL, her kids, and myself--would enthusiastically welcome and nurture another baby. The feminist in me cries out that my quandary is deeply intertwined with the same one that causes women to forego having children in their most fertile and energetic years, for fear of not being able to support those children if they come along before she is financially well-established. I want to point the finger at our society's seeming reluctance to recognise child-rearing as legitimate economic labour (it so obviously is) and assert my right to reproductive freedom. Furthermore, I reject in its entirety the notion that an economically disadvantaged woman, once she becomes a mother, is obliged to abandon her ongoing education and immediately find whatever work she can to support her child. I think that is wildly misogynistic thinking that denies the humanity and potentiality of women; i.e. denies that a mother has the right to try to be anything other than a baby-raiser. (So don't tell me to forget my capacity to achieve things I'll be proud of and tell me to just work a crappy job I'll suck at and hate. My immigrant grandparents worked dreadful jobs so that I could have the chance to do what they dreamed of doing--meaningful work.) Also, I believe that the cultural expectations surrounding work were developed by men and for men, and do not adequately take into account the more nuanced needs of the childbearing sex. But this all feels so spoilt and entitled when I encounter the opposed ideological stance--that of my MIL--who likes to call us "dole bludgers" to our face.
What are your thoughts, ladies? I know that haters always gonna hate, and that no decision I make regarding my body or my family or my finances is ever going to receive universal approval. I'm not after that. I just want to understand why I can't mentally move past the guilt I feel when I consider asking taxpayers to fund our attempt to build our little slice of domestic heaven.
I do want (very much) to work, and be a taxpayer myself. But with our plan as it stands, I won't even start a career until our second child is in primary school. That's a lot of years of the state paying for me.
Please be kind.