being a mom

I’m Torn On If I Want More Than One Child

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If only I had it all figured out the way my childhood hero/imaginary best friend Rudy Huxtable did. She knew exactly what kind of family she wanted when she grew up: “A boy and a girl, and a dog named Tiffany.” And of course, a husband named Buuud. I, on the other hand, do have a husband, zero pets (but I’m open to it!) and I honestly have no idea how many kids I should have. (I do have one, so that’s a start.) But whether or not I want to have more has become life’s big dilemma.

I always assumed I’d have two kids, both girls. When I was about four years old, I even named my fictional daughters: Courtney and Denise. (They were both going to be hairdressers.) At times, I considered having more than two, like when I was 15 and decided I would have four, just because I had a supercool idea for themed names – Cuba (boy), Holland (girl), Chynna (girl), and India (girl). Insufferable, right?

I currently have one boy, and I’m not so sure I want two anymore. One is perfect for the moment, because he is a perfect kid. He is kind and shares and he laughs a lot. (Okay, so he throws his toys and books and he recently developed a thing for biting us, and he screams if we even show him a photo of a green vegetable, but in a mother’s eyes he’s…who am I kidding? I am exhausted.)

In general, he is a great kid, and he really does have a sweet, laid-back disposition. He’s always been a good sleeper and eater. One admittedly irrational and dumb reason I don’t know if I want another one is because I fear that thing where, on your second kid, you get the complete opposite of your first. If I go from having a great sleeper to a terrible one, or a good eater to a reflux-suffering screamer, I’m not sure I’ll know what to do. The real problem here is me. I’m a minimalist – in that I put minimal effort into most things. I tend to choose the easy way out of everything. If I Google a recipe for, say, corn chowder, I will almost always choose the one with “simple” in the title or with a shortcut that doesn’t involve dirtying two pots. (BTW, this is a good one.) So now that my toddler is 18 months old, and we’re in a good place with him on almost every level, how can I possibly consider disrupting this perfect situation to do it all over again? How do more people reach this point and not just call it quits? Like, the thought I have every day is “How does ANYone choose to have another kid? Who has the energy?”

If we’re going to go big picture here, I constantly debate the environmental impact of bringing another person into the world. I do everything I can, realistically, to minimize my environmental impact and bringing another human into the world, while it shouldn’t be a huge factor that goes into such a personal decision – does creep into my mind. Am I alone there? It feels crazy to even acknowledge that as a reason, but I worry about a lot of crap beyond my control, so welcome to my brain.

So aside from the environment and my laziness, I’ll level with you: I also didn’t really enjoy pregnancy. In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t need a prescription for my nausea, but I was pretty pukey for three months. I had no appetite, constant heartburn, burning joint pain when I slept on my side, and a fetus that did backflips and high kicks constantly. (When I originally mapped out my reasons why I disliked pregnancy, they were “chocolate gave me heartburn” and “couldn’t eat deli turkey.” Look, I’m shallow and awful, but those things also sucked.) But my mantra for nine months was “One and done.”

My husband, an only child, is undecided as well but offers nothing but positive things to say about his experience. He loved the attention from his parents, the extra gifts at Christmas and the alone time growing up. I have two siblings and can’t imagine not having them there to influence my music and clothing choices, act as a buffer when my parents give me grief, and being the aunt to their awesome kids. Should my own desire to sleep a little better for a year trump my son’s opportunity at having a meaningful relationship with a sibling like I have?

Aside from all my petty reasons for not wanting another baby (the lack of sleep, the pregnancy heartburn), the real problem is that I can’t afford a second child, not another one in day care at least. That right there should be the answer. “Can you afford it?” Not really! I could move out of Brooklyn, or I could make some other sacrifices, but getting rid of cable will not pay for baby number two’s college education. Money isn’t everything, but I do want my kids to be secure and provided for.

Does everyone feel like this, or am I just really unsure of what I want? If only my inner Rudy Huxtable would show herself.

(Photo: Shutterstock)