Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The easy decision is not making one, but that only works for so long

Raising babies is tough work, y'all.

(I've been watching a lot of True Blood. I find myself talking like Britney Spears's redneck sister-cousin more and more these days. Don't judge me. The show is fangtastic.)

The "being mummy" thing has come easily in so many ways and then not so much in others. The work/life/mummy balance thing is always a struggle. I'll admit there are days I don't much care for being a mother, days I wonder if I'm really cut out for this and then others (and they outnumber the bad) that I'm on top of the world, am pretty sure I have it ALL figured out and believe I could handle a house full of the little suckers and each and everyone of them would turn out to be productive members of society.

When I get my head out of La-la Land I'm faced with the reality that, frankly, we're not about to have a house-full...but are we going to have more? Another one? Chou Two? Sea Monkey, the Sequel?

It's a bigger deal this time around, I think, and Mr. Wumpus agrees.

The first time out of the gate, it's all love and round bellies and the promise of cherub cheeks and baby shower gifts. The second time it's about facing going on the peanuts that is mat leave again, staying home with OHMYGOD two babies and staying sane, about my own personal and professional goals, about howdoweaffordtwoballetclassespluschildcare and

Yes, the mind wobbles.

But then, there's me and Chou in the back yard playing on the Weee (the slide), and she looks at me and calls me boring with her eyes and I think, Dear lord, child you need a brother or a sister.

Except that it also means that I'd have another daughter or a son. And the enormity that is that responsibility surrounds me and consumes me and I think, "I don't know".

Here's how it plays out. A) I can't imagine my life without my siblings. Being an only child seems like a sad and lonely childhood and, yes, even adulthood. So Chou should have one. B) I loved my pregnancy and would do it again in a heartbeat some days, also: B i) I want to experience a natural birth...and while there are no guarantees that my next birth will be anything different from my first, I do really want to know what it's like to just go into labour, to feel my contractions build and change, to soak in a labour tub and, yes, even experience crowning. I'm not a masochist, I don't want to go through pain, I want to fully experience a natural labour. There's a difference.

(As an aside, I consider Chou's birth a positive birth experience, but not necessarily the most satisfying. There's a large part of me that feels like I missed out on something huge and I want to be a part of that, especially considering that I'm working on becoming a doula and possibly a midwife. Sure, it's not necessary, it's just a feeling.)

Balanced against points A, B, and B-i, are a few things, most of which are selfish, but let's all be honest here - we're all a little selfish. First, Mr. Wumpus and I have two incomes for the first time in a long, long time. There are things we'd like to get ahead on, things we'd like to buy, projects we'd like to do, trips we'd like to take. Mat leave means no money, but it's not just the year of leave, it's the fall out do you afford all these things with FOUR plane tickets to pay for and on a reduced income (because let's face it, going back to work full time with two kids? not going to happen).

But more than the income question is the timing question. I have things I want to pursue. Classes I want to take. New career options I want to explore. Having another child means putting all that off (and for how long?). I'm not the most patient person, and I even start to imagine going back to school with a 4 and 2 year old and I cringe.

Which brings us back to do we or don't we? And then when?

Because when I write it all out like this, the part of me that recognizes this isn't a logic-only question, knows that we don't know what forever brings. A few years in a lifetime is really nothing. And having a new life and a new soul as part of our family is a lifetime of joy.

Now if only you could use joy to pay your mortgage.

All Caddywumpus comments generator: How did you decide to have more kids and when to stop? How do you know when your family is complete? How do you balance life/love/work/family/goals?


Lisa said...

Great post!!!!! Since I'm only a few days or weeks away from the reality of two, my post may change after baby m arrives.....

Anyway, how did we decide? We didn't really. Just happened. But the end of your post is my answer to you. I have a lot of things I would like to accomplish in my life, and have dreams, goals and aspirations as a family, but for now, we are in our baby making years. That doesn't mean we can't accomplish some of these things that we have thought of or dreamed of, but it does put some of the major stuff on hold. Look at how much you and hubby have accomplished since Chou was born! It hasn't slowed you down much yet. You and your hubby seem to be the type to accomplish things regardless of what you have going on in your life.

Anyway, just a few words of encouragement. I think you can accomplish all that YOU want and what you want as a family as well!

Again, I may have a very different tune to sing in a little while, but that again is only a phase.

Good luck with your decision. Not an easy one to make....unless it's made for you! :)

Beth said...

My kids are 18 months apart because I wanted them to have a lot in common and really grow up together. Selfishly, I wanted to do the diaper/tied down stuff all at one time. So within 3 years, my body was my own again. My kids get along great and played with each other non-stop. Is any of this right for you? No idea, but I would consider long term ramifications and not worry about short term ones. Good luck!

Jennifer P said...

You mean your body can be just yours? Weird. I have a feeling after this one we're done, but if you'd told me two years ago that we'd have #2 25 weeks aways I would have poured breast milk on your head.

I don't know if I ever actually have it all balanced. Like you, some days I'm on top of the world. For sure achieving and maintaining balance couldn't be done without my husband.

I am good and what I do and I like it. It has lots of perks that I enjoy. For me, that is enough.

Farmer Flinta said...

True Blood is my favourite part of the week. Oh Jason Stackhouse, just keep your shirt off every episode.

As for baby discussions, since I can't even make up my mind if I want one baby let alone many babies I am no help to you. The JR the 83rd loves my indecision as you can imagine. Frankly it scares the crap out of me. I was just reading an article in Macleans's called The Case Against Having Kids and how more and more people are not having them because of how they feel it will ruin their world. But regardless of when you are ready to take that step again, I congratulate you because you are a lot stronger and have more of sense of life, work and balance than most of us without them. And I mean that! Good show Mrs. W!

bigsister#1 said...

Just because you have one, two, or three kids doesn't mean you can't accomplish your own goals. You just might make different decisions based on your family life.You can be successful at family, career, and personal life, it just might mean not all at the same time. Look at Mum, she had four kids and still had degrees in dairy science, and massage therapy, ran a farm, and caught babies on the side. All while looking after us. It can be done!

Just remember they are only babies for a very short period of time. Enjoy it while you can, it goes by soooo fast. It's never any easy decision but I promise you will make it work and will love them just the same.

Anonymous said...

i've always thought of having more than one as an expansion of your role as parent. i thought my first was the biggest deal, life changer and all. i guess you stop when you feel complete?


Anonymous said...

What can I add to all those comments? Lots. You see my 4 are grown up now (almost er somtimes I think they never grow up) and I wonder where those years went. Life passed me by while I was in the middle of it. How soon you forget the middle of the night cuddles while breastfeeding, the wonder of a newborn, and the wonder of an older sibbling at the newborn! It still amazes me that in 5.75 yrs, Hubby and I made 4 babies, each one unique, each one a gift. Only the first was truly planned, the rest just happened. I will never forget when I found out I was pregnant for #2 (#1 was 9 months old) and I sheepishly told my head nurse that I was pregnant AGAIN. I told her I had mixed feelings, it was too soon. Man did she tune me in. She had been trying for years, and had #1 and was desperately trying for #2. I thanked my lucky stars. If I had to go back, I would do it the same way. My kids were the 4 musketeers. They were always together, playing, singing, dancing, fighting...yes that too. They all slept in the same room for at least 2 years. The giggles in the evening were contagious.
Today, they share that bond that will never leave them. And that was the most precious gift I could ever give them.
As for myself, I continued from nursing to operating a small business at home, which grew too big for the home. I took the CIM certification at UofM, which is 1 course per term for 4 years. I sang in a band, was on the local cummunity club board, and the list goes on. I have never regretted parenthood, nor the choices that at times were made for me.
I gave up horses in my life for many years when the kids were young due to lack of time and funds. Well I've made up for it now. I have no regrets.
I hope this helps. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what you decide, love those you are with, enjoy each moment, and have no regrets.
You sure made me remenisce hun! luv J9

Anonymous said...

I too am childless and read Maclean's "The Case Against Having Kids". It's a salient argument for those choosing to be child-free, though does not advocate against those who have or are planning to have children. For myself, I don't see children in the future but I completely support my friends who do have children and are elated with their choice. Considering I'm primarily focused on building a career at this point, having kids does not fit into the plan for me. That said, I don't possess any "natural inclination" to want them either. Thus, I figure its best left to the experts (or, you) to create the leaders of tomorrow. I'm happy to shower friend's babies in gifts ...but as for the time, money, patience, maternal nurturing, and all else required into raising a child, I'm certain I just don't have it - nor do I want to force it either.

On the contrary, I can't imagine having grown up without siblings. My sister is one of my best friends and I'm certain this will always be. Having been raised in a situation with two working parents, I spent a lot of time with my sisters before/after school without guardians; we honed basic life skills together and acted as a social sounding board for virtually everything we did. I'm at a loss when trying to picture a childhood alone. The time spent playing, talking, fighting, reading, learning, laughing together and crying together, and engaging in recreational activity (i.e. riding) with them has been invaluable on all aspects development (emotional, physical, social, intellectual, etc.).

Keeping up with your life via blog has been incredibly humbling for me, and so enlightening at the same time. I never met your mum but she seemed, literally, like WonderWoman. I wish I had a mother like that: a hands-on natural leader, an accountable no-nonsense guardian and role model, an avid learner who always faced new challenges, etc etc. With saying that I will add - it seems you have almost all of your mum's personality engrained in who you are. [This is just me spouting my opinion here] I think having another kid would be easy for you. I mean, as easy as having child #2 could be, of course. You figure out an answer for everything, you have an extremely solid head on your shoulders, you embody a wealth of morals and values most people can't fathom, and you're one of the most resourceful people I know.

That's my two cents (i.e. novel) on things.