The Age-Old Conflict That Nobody’s Talking About

The decision to have a child is, by all accounts, an intensely personal one. In fact, many women, especially in my social circles, areThe birthday boy so private about this decision that they don’t even discuss the option until they’re well on their way to new-motherhood, or until they hit middle age and it becomes apparent that the baby ship has sailed. And though such privacy is certainly warranted (and, perhaps, even worthwhile), it doesn’t leave many doors open for consultation in cases of doubt. At a time when the average fertility rate worldwide hovers well under 3 children per women, couples who choose to have more than 2-3 children often face judgment from a plethora of sources; grandparents who think that their children are overextended with the children they already have, teachers who think that their students aren’t receiving enough attention at home, employers who are afraid to hire women that may opt to take maternity leave on a semi-regular basis. In contrast, women who can have more children but choose not to seem to struggle with the unspoken pressure of others who are still opting for more, and even more difficult ‘what if’s. What if an unborn child was destined to be the president? What if having another will fix the family’s current gender imbalance (on the other hand, what if it won’t?)?

My baby is turning 1 this week, and through all of the preparations and the excitement generated by the other kids, I can’t help but feel a bit conflicted at the arrival of this pivotal milestone. Perhaps that’s my generally nervous personality. But perhaps not. It may be the realization that since Itiel is my fifth, I’m not actually sure if I’ll be celebrating another first birthday of my own child. It may be the idea that despite my completely irrational desire to have another baby, it may not be the best thing for the kids we already have. Or for our bank account. Or my stress level. (But honestly, is there ever a truly convenient time to have kids? Are these valid reasons not to have more? You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? And thus, the ever-evolving dilemma continues).

Not surprisingly, publishing my inner conflict for all to see hasn’t answered any of my questions. But I hope that it will help others debating this issue to realize that it’s an issue that at least one other person is thinking about, and that perhaps it may be one worth discussing beyond the confines of couplehood. It may even be a good idea to ask for advice from others who have made the decision (or haven’t yet), though I wouldn’t know since until now I’ve been too shy to ask around.

 

 

sari

Yup, it's true. I write all day for work - and now, apparently, I write for fun too.

 

5 thoughts on “The Age-Old Conflict That Nobody’s Talking About

  1. I agonized over a 5th for months – in fact from the time Sima was born and 15 months after that. After that I would’ve been entering the very dangerous age zone. I so hear where you are coming from. And in the end I didn’t for so many reasons, and you know what it was a good decision. But who knows, if I had decided the other way, that may have also been a good decision.

  2. I think the decision is made for us. I asked my mother the same question “how will i know when it is time to stop having children”? She replied ” you will know”. I did. When labor and delivery was not enjoyable (not in the fun sense) for me anymore, especially after pushing out an almost 10 pound baby. Right then i knew this was the last.
    No regrets!!!
    That baby our 7th child is graduating from 12th grade this week.

  3. Oh boy, I really understand your dilemma. Our youngest is 5, so at this point it would be a whole new beginning for us with a new baby. I have to say I am so enjoying the freedom I have now that she’s 5. On the other hand I love the idea of a larger family size. The financial and health concerns are very real. I’ve been going through the same dilemma for a couple of years now. I unfortunately have no answers for you. Thanks for raising this subject! 🙂

  4. It’s always good when someone broaches a subject that lots of people think of/go through but isn’t openly talked about. Not everyone will agree with you bringing it out into the open, but for most, it will be a welcome relief – to realize that they’re not the only one going through/having gone through that same experience. Some will then openly discuss with you or another friend, some will privately send you a message, and some won’t respond, but will use what you wrote as food for thought. You don’t have to discuss every private detail out in the open, but it certainly takes guts o put it out there and it can potentially help a lot of people.

    One thing I thought of that you didn’t touch on in your post – is that some women (and men) feel the pull to have another “baby” – but not necessarily another “child”, and this should be considered; i.e., they love the idea of having another baby, little babies are so cute and cuddly (along with all the attention they demand of you…) – and a number of people only think of the cute and fun side, but don’t necessarily think hard when making the decision to have another child that somewhere further down the line it won’t only be about cute and little and just the expense of diapers and formula, but about another person who needs all the attention, energy, expense and everything else involved in raising kids until (and even after) they leave home.

  5. It’s so ‘nice’ (?) to feel like I’m not alone in this conflict anymore, and I appreciate everyone’s comment. Rochie, you’re spot on – I’ve gotten literally dozens of comments from people who didn’t write them here, and that’s ok, as long as the conversations get going. Also quite to the point is the idea of raising children, not just babies. As a perpetual worrier, that is something that is on my mind constantly, but you may be correct that other people aren’t thinking about the long term as much as they should be. Then again, maybe they are, and that’s the source of the conflict. 🙂

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