As a little girl, my favorite thing to do was play "house." I was an only child, so I was always the "mom" and I was always in charge! I would line up my Cabbage Patch dolls on my bed and tuck them all in for a good night's sleep. They were always stylishly dressed and never talked back...I was the perfect mom!
I never really gave much thought to how many children I wanted to have, but being an only child, I knew I wanted more than one. Now don't get me wrong, I think only children are awesome! When you don't have a live-in playmate you have to turn to your imagination, and very patient parents, to have fun...I can't count the number of times my mom had to brush knots out of her hair because I wanted to play beauty parlor!
Most of my friends growing up had siblings, so I knew all about the fighting over toys (yeah, only children don't have to share!), one being punished for something the other did (downside to no siblings...it was always my fault!), and the lack of privacy that came along with having one or more siblings. And yet, there was still a part of me that longed for that relationship, if not for me, then for my children.
Both of my parents grew up in large families. My father is the oldest of 4 and my mom is the youngest of 5 and part of a blended family. They both wanted more children, but unfortunately, due to health issues, my parents experienced 3 miscarriages after I was born (you can call me a miracle, I don't mind!). Perhaps the fact that my parents weren't able to have more children is part of the reason I wanted more, to somehow make up for what they weren't able to have.
Fast forward a few years, and I am 28 and a newlywed. My husband is a year younger (does this make me a cougar?), and we are enjoying our new life together. We decide to wait a few years before we start a family, and 3 years later we welcome our baby boy! He was beautiful and wonderful and everything we could dream of, except for the crying. So. Much. Crying. Crying in the morning. Crying in the afternoon. Crying at night and everywhere in-between. How could something so beautiful and tiny make such a horrific noise? All this crying for no reason...or so we thought. Turns out our poor baby had horrible acid reflux, and after 3 months of trying medication after medication, we found the right dose. So this is what it is like to have a happy baby!
Though it didn't last long, those three months of not knowing how to sooth our baby is not something we easily forgot. When our son was 4 we started to talk about having another baby. My husband and his sister are 12 years apart, so having children close together was never really an issue. Our thought was that if they are at least 4 years apart, then they won't be in college at the same time, and we will only have 1 tuition to pay at a time...no 5 year plans for our kids! We got pregnant pretty quickly the second time around, and welcomed another beautiful, and BIG, baby boy! We knew what to look for as far as signs of reflux, and swore that at the slightest sign of reflux we would take him to get checked out. Thankfully, he didn't have nearly as much of a problem as his brother did.
So here I was, 36, and the mother of two boys. All of the cliches about a mother's love, and how it is unconditional is more of a reality than I ever thought possible. I worried about not knowing how to parent two children at the same time, since I hadn't experienced it first-hand. When my second child was born, I was so concerned that I couldn't possibly love him as much as I love my first child. Was it possible for a heart to hold that much love? The answer was clear the moment I held my second beautiful baby in my arms. I had been told that a mother's love doesn't get divided the more children she has, it multiplies.
Fast forward 3 years and my oldest is eight and my youngest is 3. My husband and I have had the "are we going to have more" conversation several times. Over the past 3 years I have gone back and forth in my own head about whether or not I think we should have more children. With every trip to the grocery store where I see a newborn baby snuggled in a stroller looking peaceful and angelic I feel a tug on my uterus. When I see those toothless smiles of the little ones on Facebook I think, "we can totally do this again!" Then I go to the grocery store again, and this time the angelic beauties are no longer peaceful...they are loud. Screaming, and crying and inconsolable. I no longer feel the tug on my uterus. Now I feel gratitude that my oldest is in school until 4 and my little one goes to preschool 2 days a week. No way am I starting all over again! Then I clean out my kids' closets and find teeny tiny socks that wouldn't fit their pinky toes now. Were they ever that tiny? They will never be that tiny again...and at that very moment my oldest comes running in screaming something about his brother destroying his house in MineCraft and the little one is saying the zombies were coming after him (don't judge, MineCraft can be educational!). Nope, we are done. Two boys is perfect.
And this is the cycle that I go through with every milestone my boys hit. With every school picture that shows them looking more and more like young men and less and less like little boys. With every temper tantrum because they don't like that mac-n-cheese, they like the one in the blue box, I go back and forth. How do you know when you've hit the magic number? When will you stop getting teary-eyed every time you hold a baby or hear of a friend who is expecting. The answer is, maybe never. All I know that is for now, we are where we are supposed to be. This is the perfect number for us, right now. There will come a time when that decision will no longer have to be made, but for now we will go with the flow and enjoy our life as we know it. One thing we do know is that we are ready for whatever comes our way, and we will conquer it together!