When I was growing up, I had visions of a big, rambling, country house with a gaggle of kids. I also imagined being a novelist to pay for this big brood and, of course, they would behave themselves while Mommy needed writing time. Apparently these magical children would feed and clothe themselves, never need help with homework, never do any extracurricular activities, love their parents and turn out just fine. (Yes, perhaps the vision was more a delusion of grandeur, but I was in grade three and that’s how your brain works when you’re eight.)
Fast-forward 20-plus years, and here we are: I am indeed a writer (editor by day, unpublished novelist by night), but swap the farmhouse for an apartment in the city, and the multiple children for just one (so far, I know, but I really don’t like to count chickens). Now the question in our house remains, how many more are we hoping for?
Blaine and I have flip-flopped over the years between two and three kids. We both know that we love children (and based on the current example, the ones in our house are pretty friggin’ cute) but both time and money are a factor — time in terms of our ages and of how to balance kids with busy careers, and money in terms of what we can provide with our income. I know it’s a completely pragmatic, unromantic approach to child rearing, but I can’t help it — I’m the always-be-prepared-think-everything-through girl. I don’t like to tie my shoes without a plan. (Kidding. Mostly.)
I’ll admit, I’ve been leaning towards three — I’m one of four and loved always having someone to play with, loved having lifelong friends in my brother and sisters — but then this blog post landed in my Inbox yesterday morning. Regardless of the cringe-inducing mention of private parts tearing, the post’s message is clear: Mothers of two children are less stressed than mothers of three (and mothers of four are apparently the least stressed of all, but four isn’t even on the table for us). I’m honestly not surprised: A parent has a hand for each kid when there are only two (and in two-parent households, a whole adult per child); finances don’t have to stretch as far; there isn’t an extra body/set of crooked teeth/messy room/smelly knapsack to consider; there’s no worry of one of the three being left out. I get it.
But then Sophie grins through a yogurt-covered face, waddles across the room with her little arms pumping, and points out the walrus in her favourite book (“walrus” happens to the be word of the moment) and my hormones take over. “I could do this a couple more times,” I think. And then I remember how she throws the yogurt on the floor, pulls all the laundry out of the basket, and demands to be read said book over and over. I think it’s safe to say the jury’s still out.