I was asked this recently and the speaker wasn’t talking about an adult beverage. She was speaking about a different kind of second: a child.
I used to fidget a bit with this question. Sometimes because the speaker wasn’t someone that I knew but sometimes just because I felt the answer should always be an unhesitating “yes”. “I’m 40,” I always begin in a “doesn’t that explain everything?” sort of way. It never did.
“I knew that I could be a great mother to one but any more and I’d be mediocre.” said a commenter on Lauren Sandler’s recent piece in Slate on her decision to have only one child. That really resonated with me. I have all I can handle right now, with one toddler. Another child? I’d lose my mind and just as bad, I’d be mediocre as a parent. I believe that. I give E. 100% of me 95% of the time. It’s exhausting but she gets me, not a distracted version of me. I honestly don’t know how moms parent more than one child. They always amaze me! It’s just not in me to have the kind of patience.
I’m also one of the most selfish people I know. Alone time has always been really important to me. I love reading and writing. My creative work is essential to me feeling like I am still a woman with an identity outside of mother. At some point I want to read books about addiction, alcoholism and mental health again just because I can instead of mainly parenting and business books. I love being in the car listening Metallica at high decibels, ALONE, instead of the standard Music Together CD that E. and I usually listen to on our drives. I eagerly anticipate the day when I can attend a conference again or be gone overnight.
Speaking of selfish…my pregnancy wasn’t bad at all. I felt physically great throughout most of it. But emotionally, I felt anxious and vulnerable. I’m also one of the rare women who had the childbirth experience that she had hoped for. Do I want to go through either of those experiences again? No way. I LOVE that I can finally wear my “old” clothes again, not breastfeed every few hours and feel like myself…most days.
But it’s also a resource issue for us. I’m building a business that will launch later this Fall so I’m working very part-time. My husband makes a decent salary and we save money on childcare because I do the bulk of it. But I like being able to go to Whole Foods and buying mainly organic fruits and veggies for E. My husband’s family is in Germany and it’s important for us to return to see them annually, and not for a long weekend. E. will go to a little school before kindergarten certainly and because embarrassingly in this resource rich country there is no daycare, we will need to pay for it. No small chunk of change, as many of you already know.
E. is still breastfeed because it’s what she wants. I wear her on walks (all 20+ pound of her…and not in a backpack either!) because she is in a phase where she hates the BOB. We go grocery shopping together and I let E. steer (us, not the grocery cart!) toward the produce that catches her eye. I want her to know that I am there for her, always, always, always. Forever. On top of everything else, I know that I couldn’t give that to her if there was another child in the picture. It’s not in me.
“No,” I told this woman immediately, without hesitation. “One is enough for us.”