When it came to having a family, I always knew I only wanted two kids. And if I’m going to be completely honest about it, I probably would have been pretty happy with just one. But since my husband had dreams of our own family soccer team, I thought two was a good compromise. With two, my children would have the special bond of siblings and I would still have most of my sanity.
It was a win-win for all.
After my son was born, I was feeling pretty good about life. Everything was going according to plan and it seemed like our family was complete. We had a little girl and a little boy — a dream come true. But for some reason, I didn’t ever get that feeling like this was my last baby. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely didn’t want to get pregnant again and I certainly didn’t want to muddle my way through the newborn days again, but still, something small and quiet in my heart didn’t feel like this was it. I sort of just rushed through it all, not truly cherishing it the way many moms tend to do with their last babe.
We weren’t really talking about having a third baby (or at least not seriously). My husband would bring it up from time-to-time and joke about how we better get a jump on it if we were still going to have enough time to make the family soccer team of his dreams. We would laugh and I would make some comment along the lines of “no way, nuh-uh, not ever happening” and we would move on. But in the months leading up to my son’s first birthday, I began to wonder if maybe I wasn’t really “done.” Maybe another baby wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
So, I started asking around. I asked people I knew with two kids why they decided to forgo more. I asked people with larger families how they made their decision. I asked big families what their hardest challenges were. I asked anyone I could think of for input, but I still didn’t feel peace about a decision one way or another. This was such a big decision. How do people make such big decisions?! In the forefront of my mind, all I could think about was how we were in such a good place. With a 3-year-old and an almost 1-year-old, we were out of the newborn stage. Sticking with two certainly would be easier.
But then I got some advice that totally flipped my perspective.
My husband and I attended a parenting conference and while I learned a great deal during that weekend, the one thing that truly stuck out to me was how short these early years truly are. The conference was broken down into ages and stages. The husband and wife duo running the conference talked about the ages of 0-5 as “being in the trenches.” During that time, you are laying a foundation much like you would with a home — one that no one is going to come over and take a look at, that isn’t all that exciting but is oh-so-essential, that is labor-intensive and SO much work. These years are some of the most difficult, but they explained that once those years are over, you start to see the fruits of your labor; the house starts to take shape. All of that hard work begins to shape amazing little people who you get to have real conversations with and who don’t throw tantrums every 20 minutes. Then they said something that really stuck with me:
“Look at the long-term. This time feels so long, but it is so much shorter than you think. You will never regret the time you put into your children.”
I took that nugget home and rolled it around in my brain for days. I thought long and hard about what I wanted the big picture, long-term vision, of my life to look like. Once I was out of the trenches of these early years, did the idea of having a bigger family look appealing? It really did. I quickly realized that I was only scared of these baby/toddler years, but that having a big family of older children sounded awesome. I knew I would never regret the extra time and effort I put into my children. It felt right. I finally had an overwhelming sense of peace about the decision.
I went to my husband later that day and told him that I was ready for another baby. He was thrilled, although terribly confused for a few minutes at my sudden change of heart. Now I am nearly out of the first trimester of pregnancy with Baby #3. I still have moments of anxiety. I still have moments where I wonder if I’ll be able to handle another one. But during those times I think back to that advice about looking at the long-term vision. I imagine our big family having adventures together once we are out of the trenches of the early years and it thrills my heart. I am even starting to look forward to the snuggly baby stage again (although, definitely not the sleep deprivation part). I know we’ll just figure it out as we go.