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How do you know when your family is complete?

Paper cutout family of five in the palm of a hand surrounded by question marksI have 2.5 kids.

From Sunday to Tuesday – when I’m hanging out with G1 and G2 – I think, “Three kids is a nice idea”. And on Wednesday when TT arrives after school from his mum’s and we bundle everyone into the car to go to futsal, I think, “Yup, three is plenty”.

After G2’s birth, we had a bit of a honeymoon because she was a placid newborn, a great sleeper and I’m pretty sure the oxytocin levels were soaring. My husband kept saying, “I think four’s a great idea. These kids are awesome. In for a penny, in for a pound. Let’s have another”.

My response straddled measured and on the verge of hysteria (depending on the times of day), “If you think another kid is a good idea, then you’re not doing enough because I am barely on top of this. We will table this discussion until she’s 6 months.”

Instead, we got a cat (but that’s a whole other story).

Six months rolled around and in the haze of good nights’ sleep, I was a little more open to the idea of another bundle of joy. TT is 8, G1 is 4 and I looked at the lovely ginger-haired G2 and thought, “Well, if we’re going to do it, let’s get it done.”

So the discussion of another child was pulled off the table and, interestingly, it kind of called my husband’s bluff. We started to discuss the real implications of another child: a single salary for longer, me at home longer (this is a negative in my books and therefore everyone suffers), less resources for the kids we have (wouldn’t it be good to go to Italy?), the environmental impact, the size of our car, our career ambitions, the cost of childcare, our retirement fund, the general exhaust.

Our wise friend, a father of three pointed out: “there is no logical reason to have a child”.

To compound our decision, G2 got sick and woke in the middle of the night for a week and then again at 5:30am FOR THE DAY. I had flashbacks of G1’s first two years that almost left me crying in a corner. Babies can be really hard and we got so lucky with G2. Then I babysat for a friend whose baby is a bloodcurdling screamer. I thought my tubes had tied themselves there and then.

And it turns out, that’s not biologically sound.

In amongst all of our pro-ing and con-ing and being very rational, it was already too late. Life had been created. I discovered this after G2 ate a particularly pungent piece of toast with vegemite. Bleccccchhhhhhh.

I cried for the first 3 days. I was numb for the 4 weeks after that. I was so worried that I would crack under the pressure. Horrible phrases echoed in my brain: Two under two. Three under five. People mover. Four kids – no one I know with my attitude towards parenting has four kids. In fact, do I even know anyone with four kids? Do people with four kids have time to know other people?

And when I saw the first scan, I thought, “Oh, it looks like a baby. I know what to do with one of those.”

The only consolation for my perceived loss of freedom, the loss of income, the loss of bodily independence and the further rain check on my roller derby career was my children. There are a dozen things I’d like to be doing with my time that isn’t parenting but man, my kids are pretty cool human beings. I like them a lot and even if I’m a bit overwhelmed in the next 2-3 years, I know I won’t regret it in 4 or 5. And there’s no room to wonder if we should have had another.

Now, I know we’re done after this one. Our family will be complete. No question.

And hopefully, my Christmas present will be a vasectomy!

Image credit: ashumskiy/123RF Stock Photo

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Adrienne Buckingham

About Adrienne Buckingham

Adrienne is an optimistic traveller who, while seeking a life less ordinary, settled herself in the suburbs of New Zealand. She is a mother to three girls, a stepmother to one ...

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4 comments so far -

  1. My goodness, I could have written this piece myself – Ginger-haired baby and all! Our “decision” was made for us, when #4’s presence became apparent to me whilst still b/f #3. Unexplained bone shattering tiredness is what gave the game away!
    So, come February, we will be a family with 2 under 2, (with a total of 4 under 6).
    I too, know we are now DONE!

  2. Whatever the number we are blessed to have any. We were starting with our 2nd (IVF) when my husband died too soon. Just remember the dramas we think we have with kids and our lives are just that. Live each moment as if your last.

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