I remember when I first mentioned the “B” word to my husband (then boyfriend). I wasn’t sure if he actually wanted children. One day, when I was feeling confident that our relationship had reached the right time for a grown up conversation, I asked him if he wanted a baby. His answer was brief. “The jury’s still out,” he said. Having come from a family of five children, I longed to create a big family and I hoped it would be with him.
Fortunately as time went by the jury came back in favour of children – or rather – a (singular) child. “Let’s just start with one and see what happens,” he suggested. I was happy with this – he was a logical guy and it was a step in the right direction.
Something clearly appealed to him about parenthood as when our first daughter was only 6-months old we decided to try for another. He was smitten with fatherhood and I had a really positive transition to motherhood. We were also lucky in that we conceived easily and our second daughter was born 17 months after the first.
But the third baby (bless you Miss H) did not come quite as easily. When Miss J was about 6 moths of age, I proposed we try for another, despite my experience being significantly different second time around. My husband felt that two was probably enough – the “magic number.” His reasons were simple. To have two healthy children was a blessing. Financially it made better sense to stop at two. And logistically we could be responsible for one each. He didn’t want to be outnumbered by them: Two’s company, three’s a crowd! My husband was happier with company but I wanted a crowd.
Such was my deep longing to have a third baby that I even suggested we try the techniques to influence the sex. My eagerness for wanting a bigger family was deeply embedded in my own upbringing. I came from a large family and I yearned to replicate it. My childhood was vibrant, chaotic and noisy. I loved the noise, and the animated discussions we had as we got older (and still do).
After many discussions we agreed to try for a third child but not out of hope for a boy, which is a good thing as we had another girl. The 6-month mark has long passed. In fact 15 months have now passed and this is the longest I haven’t been pregnant in a while. My husband is keen to have “the snip”, which would put an end to this chapter. I would like a fourth but I also know that for all the reasons mentioned above, three is probably the perfect number. I also have a feeling we would keep having girls and already there is far too much emotion in this house, and imagine what it will be like in ten years time!
Parenting is hard on a good day. Already there are many days when one child, or all three, require more attention than I can give. And I feel stretched to my maximum already. But despite this I could probably be stretched just a bit more to even it out to four. I know that cats work better in even numbers. I wonder if the same is true for children?
I also have a weakness for babies. I just love them and wish the baby stage didn’t go so fast. But my husband reminds me that I can’t keep having children just because I love babies. Just as puppies grow up to be full-sized animals, babies get bigger too, and their needs grow bigger too (read: expensive).
To add another member to the family would require a bigger car, a bigger washing machine, a bigger income and a bigger house! And really, how many years can you survive being tired?
Many of my friends have decided that two is the perfect number. And I understand their reasoning. The parent to child ratio is right. If you have more than two the children have majority control and every problem is bigger in numbers.
Not long ago, I met a woman in the park who was up to her 7th child and was reluctant to say it was her last. Whilst I think 7 is too many for me, I don’t want my husband to have the snip just yet. It’s too final. We know each other well. He knows I’ll ask for another, and I know he’ll say no. The 000’s are packed away neatly in a box, but the box isn’t going anywhere just yet…
What’s your perfect number? How many children do you want to have? And how do you know when you’re done? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please comment below.