Why I’m stopping at two children

Why I'm stopping at two children

I can confidently say that I have never felt broody. Not once, ever. I can’t even fathom what that feeling must be like. Is it that feeling you feel when you see a really adorable tiny kitten or puppy?

I never ‘knew’ I wanted to be a mother when I was younger. I was surprised that I had children at all, let alone before any of my peers. In fact, I had babies before both of my most broody, really-good-with-kids friends – anyone who knew me before I had children is probably stunned that I had kids at all.

My mother has been putting a lot of pressure on me lately to have more children. ‘Giles is rich,’ she always says, ‘you can have a lot of help.’

That doesn’t mean I don’t love my children or that I don’t like being a mother. I do! But what I like about being a mother is providing a happy, safe, warm, clean home, delicious food, soft comfy beds, cuddles when they fall, nice holidays, a good social life and a reasonable amount of quality time with a parent; I like reading books, watching CBeebies, colouring in, Play-Doh and stickers. All fine with me.

But I mostly see myself in the background, playing a supporting role while my children get on with their lives. I am an excellent multi-tasker, and that’s what I like doing best. Not too much work, not too much baby, not too much boozing. But enough of each. So the intense neediness of babies – from conception to birth and up to about eighteen months old – freaks me out and gets me down.

I love waving Kitty off to nursery then going back home to do a bit of work, maybe make a cake, plan what they are going to have for tea, sort out the kids’ wardrobes a bit, make sure they both have clean pyjamas, locate the books we are going to read at teatime. I really enjoy all that. In fact these days, I kind of live for it.

Creating and maintaining a nice home, trying to construct for my children as peaceful, cosy and supportive a domestic life as I can – I do love that. I don’t mind the cooking or the clearing up or the organising, if I am left in peace to do it. What I cannot stand is being hampered by a baby when I am trying to do other things. My babies do not sit quietly on the floor playing with their toys.

They shriek and whimper for months on end and want to be played with constantly or hefted about or taken out in their buggy. I thought Sam would be entertained by Kitty during his babyhood, but he was not.

My mother has been putting a lot of pressure on me lately to have more children. ‘Giles is rich,’ she always says, ‘you can have a lot of help.’

But I don’t want a lot of help. I don’t mind if other people have a lot of help, you understand. I admire it! I don’t care if they go back to work and have an assortment of round-the-clock nannies, week-in, week-out. I know plenty of nannies and they are brilliant, engaged, delightful and devoted to their kids. There is nothing wrong with handing your children over to a good nanny for its early years. Nothing.

But I can’t do it. I cannot square it away. I know that if I was talking to myself about it, I would tell myself to stop being so pathetic, but there is a problem. If my children are being delightful I feel resentful and sad that they are spending time with the nanny and not with me. If they are being awful little jerks I feel guilty that the nanny is having to deal with it, guilty that I am washing my hands of them, guilty at how relieved I feel that they are elsewhere, jerking someone else around. Guilty because I feel I ought to be taking the jerking around on the chin instead of gratefully handing them over.

So, yes, I could have more kids and tuck them away with a nanny and go off and do whatever I wanted to. I could go back to work, or spend my days drinking coffee and getting my nails done. Giles wouldn’t care as long as I was happy. But I couldn’t do it. The kids probably wouldn’t give a crap either way but I just couldn’t do it, my mind would be clouded by a billowing, dark-grey fog. My heart would sink too often. I am too selfish.

So for me a baby is, at the very least, a 2.5 year project – nine months of feeling angry
and fat during pregnancy and then it’s eighteen months, minimum, until they can watch a bit of telly. I do not have another 2.5 years spare to give over to another child. I want to do other things!


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One reply on “Why I’m stopping at two children”
  1. says: Marmalade

    I feel really sad reading this and have unsubscribed from the site as a result. I’m surprised you think this is something anybody would want to read or agree with.

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