I had always known I wanted children. At least two. Maybe three. It was just one of those you-can’t-explain-it-you-just-know-it feelings. As much as I knew that one could lead a perfectly fulfilling life without kids, I knew such a life would never be fulfilling for me. So, I was absolutely thrilled, albeit, a little unprepared, when I had my son almost six years ago.
I had no idea what to expect. But I quickly realized that I wanted to relish the experience. I wanted to soak up those magical moments of Gabriel’s infancy and early childhood that would be gone before I knew it. Like his first belly-laugh on the day he turned three months. Or his sheer excitement when I’d get home from work. Or the way he would hug my legs when he felt shy. My partner, Julien, was equally enchanted by our happy little boy and we were as content as clams with our family of three.
The thing about having kids, though, is that they are a living, breathing, ever-changing reminder of how quickly time passes. I felt like every time I turned around, there was something new to marvel at. There were days when I truly wished I could just hit the pause button. Like the day he turned one. Twelve months couldn’t really have come and gone so quickly, could it? Yet, there was my baby walking and babbling contentedly to his birthday party guests. We were no longer the only ones in the world he knew and craved. And that kind of broke my heart. That very tangible reminder of the rapid passage of time simply made me more aware that our time together, just the two of us, was precious and numbered. And that I wanted to hang on to being able to give him my undivided love and attention for as long as I could. I wanted it to be just us for as long as possible.
It soon became clear to both Julien and me that we wanted to wait. We had found our rhythm as a family and we quite liked things the way they were. I would do the morning drop-off at daycare and he would do the evening pick-up. We’d take turns getting up in the middle of the night to soothe him back to sleep. Gabriel’s second birthday came and went. We were happy to be a family of three and we were holding firm with our 2:1 ratio and had no intention of changing it. At least, not with any urgency.
Of course, it seemed that I had barely given birth to Gabriel before the incessant inquiries of “When are you going to have another?” started rolling in. Mostly from well-meaning friends or family members. But there were also the not-so-subtle comments from acquaintances or complete strangers like “Don’t wait too long—you don’t want them to be too far apart in age” or “Once you’re done with diapers, you won’t want to start over.” There was also the odd reference to my own biological clock ticking away, but I suppose since I was still in my twenties, I never gave it much thought. It seemed like the older Gabriel got, or maybe it was the older that I got, the more everyone was ready for us to have another baby. Everyone except for us.
By the time Gabriel’s third and fourth birthdays came and went, we had been long done with diapers. And I watched my baby grow into an independent, kind and curious boy. Before I knew it, he was waving goodbye to me as I dropped him off for his first day of junior kindergarten. I was proud of him. And I was so proud of our family. It almost felt like, life was in perfect balance. Everything felt like it was where it was supposed to be. And then Gabriel turned five and…I felt it—that maternal yearning. I craved the feeling of a newborn in my arms. I longed to smell the sweet, milky smell of a new baby. I missed the intimate bond between mother and child that was breastfeeding. The debate: Should we have more kids?
I wanted another baby.
I was ready. We were ready. Even if it meant going back to diapers and sleepless nights.
The truth is, up until I felt that surge of longing, I wasn’t ready for another child. I knew without a doubt I wouldn’t be able to give of myself to another child the way a mother should. And certainly not the way a child deserves. Maybe there was a part of me that still wanted to hang on to Gabriel more than he wanted to hang on to me. But to be completely honest, I just don’t think I was ready to love another child as much as I loved Gabriel. Not until now. And I was terribly afraid of resenting another child that I knew I wasn’t ready to have and to love.
“So…when are you due?” a well-intentioned colleague inquired in reference to my very prominent belly as we rode the elevator together one morning.
“At the end of March,” I responded.
“A spring baby! How lovely! Your first?”
“Second,” I corrected.
“How old is your first?” she inquired further.
“He’ll be six in April,” I answered.
“That’s quite a gap. It’ll be like having two different families.” She chuckled.
And with that she was off and I was left to ponder in silence for five more floors if there was any truth to her comment.
Had I waited too long? Was I selfish in putting off having another baby within the much-desired two-year gap? Had I robbed my soon-to-be six-year-old son of the closeness of a childhood sibling?
With the impending arrival of our new bundle joy only a couple of weeks away, we have never been more certain that putting off having another baby was the best thing for our family. We are absolutely thrilled to be expanding our family. And perhaps most excited of all is big brother-to-be. His awareness of what having a new baby in the family will mean, his inclusion of little-sibling-to-be in school drawings and family conversation and his overall enthusiasm for his new role has been the most beautiful thing for us as parents to see.
So, there’ll be a six-year age gap. Which means that they’ll never be school mates. And that means separate school runs. And extra-curricular activities. They likely won’t be interested in much of the same things. At least, not for a while. And it will take a few years before hand-me-downs can be, well, handed down. It will mean going back to diapers and midnight feedings. Spit-up and teething. And potty training and daycare. But most importantly, it means that when our newest, little family member arrives, all three of us, we’ll be ready.
And that is why I waited.