My husband and I are in our early 30s, so our friends are at various stages of parenthood, many with their first child. Some, like us, are battling through the first six months of sleep deprivation, teething and daycare sickness. Some are shooting around their house on roller skates to keep up with their newly mobile toddler, and some are wrestling with a strong-willed 2-year old that tells them where to go and how to get there. We all have different priorities, different values and will have different approaches to parenting. Some of us want a second child. Some of us don’t.
“Want,” I think, is the key word in that sentence. My husband and I WANT a second child. It’s not something we feel we have to do, and it’s not something we feel we have to do RIGHT NOW. It’s something we want to do when we’re ready.
I’m often irritated when I hear parents talk about having a second child like its an obligation. What irritates me more is when parents rationalize having a second child before their financially or emotionally ready because “Little Johnny wants a sibling.” It’s a cop out. It’s an excuse to do something you don’t have the discipline to wait/prepare for, while putting the onus on a child that wouldn’t know a baby brother or sister if it jumped up and bit them in the diapered behind.
There may be a day when Little Johnny toddles up to you, puts his head in your lap and says “Mommy ahwanna brudder.” But let’s be honest. There’s a lot of things little Johnny wants…like a puppy or pony or swim party in December, or to suck on the Windex bottle because it’s so pretty and blue. Will you entertain those requests? No. Because little Johnny is a freakin’ kid!
Sure, I have friends who grew up as only children and now say “I wish I had a sibling.” But I also have friends who say “Hey, you know what? My sister’s a real asshole.”
Johnny won’t be emotionally scarred by having all of your attention for a few more months, years, or even for the rest of his life; by never having to share mom or dad’s kisses and hugs with a brother or sister; or by having the sun rise and set on his little tushy until he has kids of his own, thereby rendering him chopped liver.
I am betting, however, that he will remember mom and dad never having enough time for him, never going on family vacations, or not having the same opportunities as other kids because his family couldn’t afford it. I’m not saying money is everything…far from it. But lack of planning results in a lack of money and time, which causes stress. Stress causes arguments and arguments create distracted, frazzled, unhappy parents, resulting in kids that feel shitty about themselves.
After having my first child, I have a newfound respect for parents who decide to stop at one kid because having two wouldn’t allow them to [live, work, travel, provide] the way they want to. In other words, they couldn’t give their child the life they want to give them, and be the parents they want to be.
I admire someone that says, “I don’t really give a rat’s ass what everyone expects me to do. I’m going to have one child and spoil the crap out of them, rather than divide my attention, money, love, etc. among two or more kids.” It takes confidence, resolve and a mutual understanding of your goals as a couple to reject the world’s expectations for you, and worry only about your expectations of each other, and your obligation to give your child the best possible life you can.
If you want a big family, YOU want a big family. If you’re having a second child, it’s because YOU want your child to have a sibling…and that’s fine. Whatever the choice may be, it’s just that — your choice.