I often wonder how women know that they are done having kids. Are they finished because they hated their pregnancies or hated the newborn stage? Is it because they had a traumatic labor or a colicky baby? Did they stop at one or two kids for financial reasons? Or did they just always know how many kids they wanted?
I’m a little envious of those who are so confident in their decisions. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel “finished.” In fact, I sit here today at age 38, with five kids ages 1-16, and am pretty sure that my family is complete. Yet, I yearn for another baby. I loved nearly everything about my pregnancies. I loved reading the development calendars, going to doctor appointments, viewing the ultrasounds, experiencing the kicks, watching my growing belly, and all the anticipation that comes along with pregnancy. As difficult as actual labor was, I cherish the memories of that final push and holding my newborn in my arms. I loved all the attention from the doctor and nurses. I loved the smell of my new baby, and visions of the tiny newborn diapers and sleepers invade my mind. I miss the nights of rocking them to sleep, and having their little fist wrapped around my finger.
As I get older though, and my risks of having a complicated pregnancy increase, I am inclined to lean more towards the being finished part. I feel I should be thankful for my five healthy kids and not push my luck. But there is a small part that wonders what if I had one more? But then if I did have another, would I wonder the same thing again and again?
In some ways life is so much easier once the kids are older. They can bathe themselves; clean their own rooms, dress themselves, and are pretty much self-sufficient. It allows me to have more time to do some of the things I love once again. I can watch a movie in peace, read a book, or grocery shop alone. But I also no longer have that little soul, who is entirely dependent on me, whose eyes light up as soon as I enter the room, whose love is all consuming and genuine.
Little kids usually have little issues, while big kids have big issues. It’s so much easier to handle a toddler who has colored on the wall, than a teenager who has missed curfew. Toddlers are so easy to forgive and forget. Teenagers are not. Don’t get me wrong. I love all of my children at every age. Some years are just a little more rewarding than others. And some are definitely more trying.
The fact is that the newborn chapter is closing in my life and it just confirms that I’m getting older. My children are growing up, and I can’t imagine my life without all of them in my home. As hard as it is, I need to accept it and enjoy every minute that I possibly can before they are gone.
I can only hope they give me grandchildren one day to help fill the void.