One, Two or Chaos? How Many Children Should You Have?

When holidaying in Tassie, I always enjoy catching up with friends I’ve sadly left behind. While our kids all play together with the effortless enthusiasm that accompanies fresh friends, there’s always plenty of news to share over a hot cuppa. One such catch up this week came with the surprise announcement of a third baby on the way.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll already be aware that I have three kids. Or four, if you know my husband.

We always knew we wanted to have children, and thankfully we could. So there was no decision to make when embarking on the zero to one journey. And we also knew we didn’t want an only child. So again, there was no need for us to vote on crossing the road from one to two.

But then, unexpectedly, the subject became a little knotty. Unexpectedly, in part, because by this stage I had endured two rather complicated births, and I had never really made good friends with pregnancy. Surely, the only reasonable answer was to shut the shop.

“What a nice little family you have,” everyone would gush. “How lucky you are to have one of each, a pigeon pair!”  And despite my usual dependence on all things being even and balanced, our “nice little family” strangely felt a bit too little, and a bit too balanced. We even had two perfectly-proportional-one-of-each-gender cats.

I’m the youngest of three. Was I only wishing for a third child to whom I might more easily relate in terms of sibling order? And after two healthy children, was I totally risking the odds? Or possibly chancing twins?

As I carefully stored all our pink baby clothes, followed by all our blue baby clothes, I asked my friends for their thoughts. I read blogs written by mothers of three. And four. And five. I quizzed my mum. And I interrogated the handful of friends I had who had already braved the innumerable challenges of fitting three car seats across the backseat.

And then, one morning, there it was. An undeniable positive pregnancy test.

When I broke the news, my mothers’ group – my wonderfully supportive but-we’re-all-actually-stopping-at-two mothers’ group – thought I was completely mad. And so began my search for some empathetic allies.

As I neared the end of my pregnancy, my husband and I became close friends with a family of eight – six kids, ranging from 13 years down to 10 months. Six kids, voluntarily. Without pressure from any creed. Next to their brood of six, I suddenly felt like a new mother all over again. With only three offspring in tow, I suddenly seemed extremely naive and inexperienced.

There’s nothing quite like knowing a large family to put my occasional woes with three into perspective. And for this reality check, I’ll will be forever grateful. However, my friends in Tassie, with their exciting announcement, are still a long way off this lifestyle. As they set sail into the unchartered waters of being a family of five, they’ll be up against some big swells, some choppy seas, and a lot of sleepless nights. But once they negotiate the rocky headlands and the months of teething, they’ll soon find the calmer waters, and then spot our family waving them over to the dynamic sunny beaches of the unbalanced family.

I love being a mum of three – the laughs, the chaos, the love – I wouldn’t have it any other way. But let’s be quite clear… there definitely won’t be another, I’ve already turned the page.

 

(adapted from the original post published 12th April 2015)

Family of five lions

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