My fellow blogger, Carrie Goldman who writes "Portrait of an Adoption" just wrote of her feelings regarding having another child. She has three beautiful girls and is not certain if she is ready to stop having children. I read her story with a sense of complete familiarity as I too had wondered, when I was about her age if I should have another as well.
All my life I knew that the one thing in my life I wanted most was to be a mother. I think my biological clock started to tick when I myself was a child. I did not marry until I was 29 so when I did we were blessed to have children right away. I made quick work of it having met, married and had my first child in a 15 month period. A daughter, my dream. Then 2 years later I had another baby girl. Another dream come true. But would I ever have a son?
During my second birth, a C-section my doctor asked if I wanted him to tie my tubes. I could not make such a rash decision; we had not discussed it prior to the birth and it was too much to decide at that moment. I said no; I wasn't sure if I wanted another child. I wanted to keep that door open.
Carrie spoke of the dramatic changes in her life from her first child to her third. Career changes that she did not imagine or foresee that take up a great deal of her time. I was a full time working mother when I had both my girls, I was spread thin emotionally and wondered often if I could add another baby to my life. Could I give it what it would need of me? My husband talked about trying for a boy. With no guarantees of gender I didn't want to "try" for a girl and then have him feel any degree of disappointment.
Many people have lots of children. 8-10, look at the Duggars with their endless brood. I admire those people that can have many children and divide themselves amongst them. I wanted to be able to give my girls everything; I wasn't sure that I had it in me to give to more. Selfish? Maybe. And I'm okay with that. I feel that if a woman doesn't feel she can handle more children she shouldn't have any more. It's okay!
At the age of 45 I became sterile from chemotherapy and the thought of having any more children was swept away. Cancer answered that question for me. Although in retrospect I don't believe I ever would have had another. I was realizing how much it took to raise my two. I was watching them grow at a rapid pace and trying to keep up.
I believe that it's so very natural to mourn each stage of motherhood as it passes. Each stage of it has levels of intensity that change rapidly. Each time you think you have a stage down and you have learned to handle what comes with it, it changes. Pre-school to kindergarten, grammar school to middle school, puberty to high school (watch out for this one!), high school to college. Graduation. Dating. First job. First apartment. On and on.
There is no real handbook on being a good mother. Sure, there are parenting manuals that tell you what you should do. But I don't believe there is a book out there that can override a mothers instinct.
As I write this, my second daughter, last one at home is moving out today. I have gone through all the stages I mentioned and it has gone fast. I did the best I could and when you watch your children leave the nest there are a myriad of emotions that are difficult to describe. She had me walk her out this morning and we held each other tight. Things were about to change.
Had I had another child I would be going through the same things with him or her. It would have to had ended somewhere and my choice of ending at two was perfect for me. Now though? It is now that my arms ache to hold a baby, it's now that I look longingly at young mother's pushing their babies in strollers. It is now that I miss the stage of birthing children more than ever.
My girls were and are my greatest blessings. I made it my life's work to raise the best children that I could. Last night we were on a plane heading home from our annual family vacation. With our girls who still want to be with us.
There comes a time in every woman's life when she'll make a decision to have children, how many and when enough is enough. No matter what she decides, it has to feel right for her. Could be one, could be ten. Could be none and that's okay too. It's her choice.
As my girls now move to a new stage with them both living away from home, I will adjust once again. Our relationship will change. They both know that I am patiently waiting for grandchildren (that's a lie, no patience at all) and the thrill of holding one of their babies in my arms. They will both have as many or as few as they please. And they will understand then and only then, why I have hung on to every second for dear life.
And the meaning of "You won't get it until you're a mother" will finally sink in.