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June 25, 2009


I could have written most of this post. (I didn't like the baby stage much at all. The early toddler stage, however, I adored. Old enough to have a personality, too young to require much discipline.) I also feel like I SHOULD be able to have more kids, like I'm not measuring up if I stick with just two. Yet I feel like I can be a pretty good mother to two, while I'm not sure how I'd do with more. I also have an intense, vocal daughter (and was a docile, easily cowed child myself) and I don't want to shortchange her either. I'm still trying to make peace with our family the size it is, but I think it's the best for all of us.

An 8-year old, I know! I can't believe that if everything had gone "right" that my kid would be entering kindergarten. Craziness.

I guess I haven't taken the later in life baby off of the table either but some days I audibly remind myself that I am done. Done. Done-done-done.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves the "pod baby" stage. My friend has a six-week-old, and if she wasn't so freaking tired (and thus NEEDS ME) (or so I keep telling myself) I do believe she'd have a restraining order out on me to keep me away.

But she needs to nap, and I need to nomnomnom on a sweet baby neck, so it's a win/win.

I hear that weird judgy voice, too. I've often caught myself thinking that I'm not a REAL mother, I don't really COUNT, because I only have one child. That's been one of the hardest things to get over with this whole secondary infertility deal, the feeling that I've lost the motherhood game.

I'm confident that I'm a good mother to the child I have... but I can't get over the feeling that I was judged from on high to be not good enough to care for more children. When really, the only one judging is me.

Oh, wow, how I relate to this post! My realization last year was more along the lines of: wow, I really don't like being a SAHM to two toddlers anymore. I knew it was time for me to find something just for me. So I applied and got accepted to law school and just as I was coming to terms with all the changes that were coming, I found my (formerly?) infertile self pregnant with my third child.

So here I am 6 months pregnant, struggling with these feelings of ungratefulness, and wondering how I will do this again. I, too, love the newborn/infant stage, but the toddler stage just kicks my ass.

Anyway, I guess we all struggle with these issues in different ways. I just hope we all find peace in our decisions.

oh jo, so much to say! as often happens, i feel like i could have written this post (though not as well). i'm on my way out the door with three six year old boys and two twelve year old girls to go to the pool and sit in the shade with my grown-up mama friend and totally ignore my kids (it does get easier, really!), but points to note when i come back to comment at greater length: yes, solitude! yes, feeling like you need more than two to really "win" at the mommy game! yes, the joy, the awe and the i-might-just-crawl-out-of-my-skin feelings (all of them, simultaneously) of parenting kids like ours! yes, needing to take care of yourself to be good to anyone else! in the meantime, smooches to you, dear one.

Bitchin post, Nurse Jo.

Can I add to the guilty list? The idea that finances/house size will likely come into play for family expansion decisions. It just seems so... wrong. THoughts?

p.s. I can also picture you doing this given your love of the baby phase(Babies are the most sought for adoption but one of the HIGHEST groups in need of foster parents):


Just curious: do those of you who feel you want/need more than two come from families with more than two kids? Is there any correlation? My family had two children and so to me, that number seems ideal, whereas stopping at just the one I have feels wrong to me.

Well, there are three of us. My mother came from a family with six siblings, my father was one of three siblings. Hmm.

Sadie, I've really, really thought about that.

i didn't used to think i could foster an infant, because i didn't think i could give it back. i'm pretty sure now that i could, but am enjoying sleeping through the night alone with just my partner for the first time in 12 years too much! maybe some day ... though i doubt it actually. am enjoying being auntie (and more and more feeling like granny) to my friends' babies!

"but the idea of going to sleep right after putting the kids down is like the thought of crashing into bed unshowered after a ninety-minute aerobics class"

Thank you for giving me a metaphor for this feeling! My partner just doesn't get this, and is always trying to hurry our(admittedly pretty overtired) selves off to bed. I may quote you next time in defense of my need to sit around and veg instead.

Thank you, as well, for the solitude as a reason for staying up too late by myself. Actually, staying up too late with my husband is nice too. But he has to go to work and would rather claim his solitude early in the morning.

I now have 3. I wish I had liked the baby stage better with my first. She was a challenging baby and I was new at being a mom, being home, being alone all day. Funny how that didn't recharge my solitude buttons. I knew when we found out we were having 1 that I wanted 1 or 3. Never 2. But that because I have my own wacky theory about siblings and how much more intense the 2-kid bond can be. (intense for good or bad) And 2 girls I might have stayed. But girl- boy, nope. Not with three generations in my family of girl-boy families that try very hard to be close, but don't really get along all that well. And people with multiple siblings don't seem to worry about their siblings (close-up sample, my husband with 6 and my mom with 4).

I am rambling. Sorry. I am not trying to persuade you to have 3 - I do love that you're reacting to a insidious voice telling you about "real" motherhood and you're facing that. Two girls might have swayed me - a different dynamic and I would hope sisters would be more tied. And your two lovely girls are fabulous.

My God are you under the influence of hormones, or what. Just wait till you stop breastfeeding--your choice will be much more clear.
Slap. Slap. Snap out of it!

I'm super impressed with people with two kids, personally. I have one and I don't feel like I'm not a real mom, and I really enjoy having one and I think that it's a good match for my strengths as a parent. However - I feel sad to think of my daughter not having a sibling, so I think about TTC another one all the time. I really hope I'll be able to adequately rise to the challenge of parenting two if I should ever be blessed with another baby.

Jo, I bet when Sophia passes through this challenging phase it will seem easier to contemplate three. I know a number of families with three kids where the oldest one is 6 or so and they are so helpful with the littles, it's really adorable. But when the oldest is 3 1/2...that's hard. Even a 3 1/2 year old with no little sib is hard!! Hang in there 'cause 4 is likely to be much smoother. :)

yes, yes, and yes.

my 3 year old boy and nearly 6 month old boy are kicking my ass. actually, only the 3 year old is, but he's much harder due to the baby (and less attention from MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY!!!). i could do baby from here until forever. yes, it sucks to get no sleep. but if you just have one baby then you can nap all day! oh how i miss napping with a babe.

i am tabling the idea of three for now. hubby doesn't want more. and i said that i'd wait until #1 was in school and until we find out if #2 has allergies like #1 (which he appears to based on bad eczema whenever i accidentally eat dairy, eggs, nuts or chocolate!).

wow. writing this out makes me wonder why i pine for three so badly. seems freakin' crazy to even discuss!! no wonder husband thinks i'm insane!

I love the baby phase, too. Can't wait! (At least I hope I do. What if it's harder than I remember?!)

That's the only part of this I relate to, though. If you have a child, you're a mom. How could it be otherwise? And, ideally, a good mom makes a responsible decision about how many children she can handle logistically, emotionally, and financially.

Oh the mommy judging voice- so hard to quiet.

If it makes you feel any better I found the first 5 or 6 years with two kids just so difficult. I was tired and their need was endless.

Now they are 7 and 10 and we are having a ball. Everyone sleeps, knows how to read and can amuse themselves.

It gets better and better!

Hang in there!


i TOTALLY feel like a hack with this one baby! When I see other moms in the grocery store, carting around two or three kids in one of those fucking red car-carts, I think to myself, she doesn't even see me, I'm not on her level. How dumb! Even when I talk to you on the phone and complain about how tired I am or how much of a complainicus Mr. Chunks can be, I feel like you're smirking on the other end of the line because oh, honey, I've got another thing comin'.
And when I look at that little nurseferatu and think he won't be nursing, most likely, by the beginning of next summer, I start plotting for another babe. But if this one-year-old who barely speaks, is mostly happy unless he's utterly pissed, takes great daytime naps and sometimes sleeps through the night is kicking my ass, what will two do?
Lastly: I want three. And I do think it is because that is what we came from. It just worked so well for us.

My god, thank you for this post. I've been suffering from depression and the hail of various and sundry meds directed at my person, from the despair and the cutting, partially because I have been trying too hard to "win at mothering." Such a perfect way to put it. My mother had five and I have "only" two (aged 6 and 3.5) and I just...you put this so well. Thank you.

Hi Jo,
Just a thought from the other side of the debate. I have 5 kids, aged 21, 18, 18, 8 and 5. You'll notice that 10 year gap in there. After the twins, I swore no more kids, because parenting, and later single parenting, was so hard. But with a new partner (who had been informed of the 'no more kids' decision) and 10 years on, it seemed like a good idea again. I'd finished my postgrad in between, and the big kids were a wonderful help and support, though I tried not to make them into unpaid helpers. They are, I should say, idolised by their small brother and sister. It works for us. Where the toddler stage is physically exhausting, the teenagers are mentally and emotionally tiring, and now that they are moving into adult life, it's very hard to let them go and make their own mistakes. There's a lot of tongue-biting involved, never my strong point.
I don't really remember the feeling that I had to win at motherhood -- all my competitive instincts were directed at finishing that damn PhD. But it's always good to sort out what you want and need. And if you still feel blessed at the end, even better.

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