Monday, January 02, 2006

My share of children

Growing up in a large family, I was constantly asked if I were going to have several children. Having been the oldest of all of my parents' progeny, I felt like I had contributing significantly to their raising and therefore believed I had done my share of bringing up several children. Four would be plenty for myself, I thought.

Having children was the first serious discussion I had with my future mate, pointing out that we'd need a house with three or four bedrooms for the four or so I was planning on having.

Since we weren't spring chicken as the saying goes when we got married, it was time to get started on kids just a couple of years into our marriage. The pregnancy went smoothly, the delivery was tough but nobody ever said that would be easy.

Another thing nobody told me was how hard it was to be a mother. I guess it wouldn't have fallen on understanding ears since I was so enthusiastic about mothering my very own own brood. Within the first few days I decided that four would never do. I couldn't handle it. There was just no way I could do this three more times. My emotional stability, or what little of it was left after my first child entered the world, would be shot all to pieces. I felt like I was teetering on the balance, barely hanging on, and too many more would knock me clean off.

But we never set out to have just one child. We wanted our children to have each other. One more was in order. For the first year and a half, though, that thought stayed as far back in my mind as I could push it. I couldn't even think about dealing with two children when this one I had ate up my every breath, sapped my every single ounce of strength. There was no room in my foggy brain to make concrete plans for more children.

Just as soon as I felt like my head was clearing and I could finally fathom bringing another child into the world, we learned that another child was indeed on the way.

Now they are six and four and we get that question quite a lot — Are you going to have any more? I don't know how to answer that question. I am torn on the inside, knowing full well that right now two is all I can handle while still hanging on to a thread of sanity yet I can't help but think ahead to the future.

Will I regret having only two children? Will I mentally beat myself up for being so selfish during my childbearing years that I couldn't see the big picture, the one where those four or so children would grow up and have each other? Am I cheating my two precious children by not giving them more siblings, by denying them the beautiful experience of having several siblings whom they will treasure in their adulthood?

Even with those thought of the future in mind, two seems like my share of children on days like these.

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