I swear I was still crowning with my second child, a little girl, when someone asked me, “So are you going to have more?” I had barely pushed the second one out and the questions began about the status of my husband’s and my family planning. “Nope,” I said with certainty. “This is it.” That little girl is now 6 and I’m still fielding questions as to why my husband and I don’t want more children.
So, first things first.
One, you should know that I think big families are fabulous. I love the idea of having a house full of grown kids and their friends returning home on college breaks to raid my fridge and borrow my car. I just don’t want that big family to have to come out of my uterus.
Second, I admire parents I see walking down the street somehow managing their three, four, five (!) children with grace and aplomb. I’ve got a 9-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter and I feel like I’m doing just fine enough to feel good about my parenting. The stresses of raising any amount of kids are real. I feel comfortable navigating the schedules and needs of two. I’m not sure I could handle three.
I’m also in complete awe of those couples who have chosen to have big families, who somehow manage to pay for all those children they’ve birthed. I feel stretched pretty thin just raising our two. We live in a city where our schools are in veritable shambles so most people opt for private school. That doesn’t come cheap. And at some point, my husband and I would like to reach an age where we can relax and enjoy all we’ve been working toward. That won’t happen if we keep paying for dance class, vacations, and that nagging monthly tuition bill. Oh, and all the braces, summer camps, and math tutors, too!
And there’s also the tiny little detail that neither my husband nor I actually wants any more children. We have a healthy boy and a healthy girl. We don’t have anyone in the house who needs diapers, naps, sleep training, or a stroller. It may sound selfish, but we feel liberated from the constraints of infancy. And even though that infant stage doesn’t last long once you’ve gone through it, neither my husband nor I wants to go back. We can travel easily with our kids and they don’t need quite so much physically from me as they did before. Our life has moved on. Our family has, too.
And yet, I get questions all the time from random strangers (that same grocery clerk asks me each and every time) and relatives alike (as if they are going to wear me down), each asking, “Are you sure you don’t want to have more children?” Trust me, people. I’m sure. I want to say to them, “But you do you. If you have a burning desire to add more people to the world, you do it. I’m happy with the people I’ve got. I don’t want more. So please stop asking.” Instead, I smile politely and wonder when having two kids was somehow a sign of gestational failure.
So here’s the deal, world. I’m going to say it once and hopefully won’t have to say it again. Family planning is personal and is best kept that way. It’s rude to ask someone why she doesn’t want more kids. A couple who says “we know our limits” should be admired, not questioned. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if more parents were thoughtful about how many children they should have? And more importantly, how many children they can handle?
If it makes you uncomfortable that the thought of not having any more kids makes me happy, than I’m so sorry for you. But if you want more kids in the world, have them yourself. But remember, babies need someone’s help in the middle of the night, and they need someone to pay for those karate classes, and they are probably going to grow up to want to go to college. You’ll need to pay for that, too. Can you handle it? I can’t. And I’m not afraid to admit it. I just can’t figure out why you keep asking.