I’m done having children. Our family is complete, and it is time for my husband and me to accept that we are done with the baby phase of our life together.
Even typing those words is gut-wrenching, regardless of how true they are.
Each phase of motherhood is incredible, but the pregnancies and baby phases were pure bliss for me. The anticipation of my babies’ arrivals, and the blessing of two healthy and comfortable pregnancies. That baby smell, learning each other’s habits, late night feedings, all the baby things, and did I mention the newborn baby smell?
As intoxicating as that baby phase is, I finally realized that I’m done having children. This realization came while my husband and I were cleaning out the basement to reorganize and I stumbled upon our strollers.
We decided that it was time to part with my beloved double stroller that I was so proud of when I purchased it. It was time to list it for sale and pass it on to a new family to enjoy. As I unfolded it and put it together for photos, I realized how little we had actually used it. The stroller was still practically brand new, and I wondered if maybe we needed to make more memories with it. I found the question of, “Is our family complete?” creeping up on me.
I’m a checklist maker. I make a checklist for everything in my life. Checklists are the easiest way for me to feel in control of a situation and understand the bigger picture.
The bulleted points on my checklist confirmed for me that I am done having children. This might seem cold, but please keep in mind that every decision we make has a list of attached pros and cons. We weigh these pros and cons and the entire household has a voice (including our children). I’m a numbers person, and I need to have logic.
So here’s my logic:
Children are expensive. There’s no way around that. Even if you are a family that budgets like crazy, keeps costs to a minimum and lives minimally, the costs still add up. It’s said that the average cost to raise a child today in the US, excluding college, is around $233,610. That is PER child, and we have two. Taking that approximate $233,610 and multiplying it by three scares me.
The numbers don’t surprise me either. Look at something as simple as ballet for our daughter or hockey for our son. Ballet costs around $950 a year, and hockey is around $500 a year plus the additional cost of his gear. In upcoming years, hockey will be as high as $1,125 a year plus gear. That’s just extracurricular activities and doesn’t include the additional camps or any other organized sports that may want to play. This doesn’t include a budget for child care, sickness, braces (OMG), holidays, or anything.
I want my children to have the chance to take advantage of every opportunity they are given, even when the financial burden falls on my husband and me. I want to ensure they have experiences that shape who they will be. I know that if we have a third child, the bills will get higher, the cost of those experiences will be higher, and we will have less money to go around. I’m not saying the cost is the top reason we are done having children, but it’s certainly the practical one.
We live in a small house. A small house that we are proud of, but a small house nonetheless. At around 960 square feet, we can not add another bedroom to our home. I also don’t think it would be fair to ask my children to all of a sudden share a room with each other, or with a baby.
We don’t want to move, so that option is out the window. I’ll admit we’ve already made our checklist of what we might want to do once the kids are high school age, but thankfully, we have plenty of time. Even if we do move, we most likely will keep to a smaller home.
We are in a really good place right now. Our family dynamics work. There is plenty of give and take. At the end of the day, the ultimate reason behind my choice comes down to the children we do have. We have two happy, healthy children, a girl, and a boy. There is no worry about, “Let’s try for a boy” or, “Let’s try for a girl.”
I do not feel as if our family is lacking in any way.
There are always the, “What ifs” and my constant fears. I operate with a constant level of anxiety, and I have always worried about my kids to the point of helicopter parenting most days. While it might be selfish, I think having a third child would only continue to compound my worry and fear. And then there is my age, which plays off of my fears as well. I’m still young at 33, but I know that the older we get, the harder a pregnancy and delivery can be. I’m anxious just thinking about that.
Our children both talk about having a baby in the house, but this is due to our neighbors having had more children in the last couple of years. The idea of a baby is a dream to them, a fleeting dream that goes just as quick as it came.
Our family is complete.
Even so, finally acknowledging that we are doing having children is bittersweet. It’s cliche to say that, I get it. But it’s true. It’s just as true that we would accept a change of heart with open arms should we change our minds in the upcoming years. But for now, we are done having children.