This post comes from a lot of raw emotion, reflection, and guilt. I’m just going to say that up front, and move on. Take this post for what you will.
I should be working, but as all things inevitably do, my thoughts turn to my family as I’m eating lunch. They also turn to my friends, many of whom have children about T’s age, and are rapidly extending their families, or planning to do so, while ours is resolutely staying unchanged.
I constantly get harassed by many, many people about when T is going to get a sibling. When I say, “Not for several years, if ever,” reactions range from looks of dismay to outright lectures as to how I will ruin my child and my life if we don’t have another, and do it soon. I’m sick of explaining it to people, I’m sick of feeling guilty about it, and I’m really tired of defending myself. So here it is, my apology to the world: T, I’m sorry you’re not getting a sibling now, or possibly ever.
We got really lucky when we got pregnant. I’ll never deny that. But, we were also unprepared. *I* was unprepared. I now completely understand why my husband wanted to wait for children until he was done with coursework. Having a child and attempting to do a Ph.D. sucks. It downright sucks. I’m a mom, I’m a wife, I’m a student, I’m supposed to be a researcher, and I’m supposed to be an employee. Balancing all of these things is incredibly difficult. I’m barely treading water at school. I nearly left school last semester. And right now, we outnumber her. What happens when you add another? Yeah, sorry, not gonna happen–at least not while I’m trying to finish this degree. I actually LIKE what I’m doing (most days), and I want to see it through.
As any parent will tell you, being a parent is HARD. It’s time consuming, energy draining, and a constant emotional rollercoaster. Last week when M and I were up for hours overnight with a puking child, changing bedsheets, changing diapers, taking middle of the night showers, and listening to her scream out of fear and pain, we had the same thoughts, apparently. We really don’t want to go through this again, at least not right now. I’m constantly fearful of something horrific happening to my child. Part of that is because I’m an incredibly anxious person to begin with, but it’s only exacerbated by having a child who I’m fairly certain is trying to give me a heart attack before I’m 30. They’ve nicknamed her “TT” at school for “Toughie Tessa.” She’s as rough as the boys, if not more so, they tell me. Oy. I foresee a trip to the ER in my future, I can feel it in my bones. My heart hurts already.
Lastly, kids are expensive. I don’t think I need to expand this explanation that much. Most people know this. I can honestly say I didn’t realize HOW expensive children are. Right now, I take home about $200/month after we pay for daycare. Simple finances are a very valid reason to not have more children at this time. I love you kid, but PLEASE stop destroying your clothes at daycare. I think I need to stop shopping at Carter’s, and go hit up Goodwill.
Between the time consumption, the constant anxiety, constricted freedom, and money, we just cannot have another right now. I’m sorry. I don’t know how much our viewpoints are going to change when we’ve got jobs and are attempting to get tenure. Do I feel guilty? YES. I had always envisioned having two children, and feel incredibly sad when I reflect on all the crazy things me and my siblings did together. But, it’s not realistic right now.
Our life as a family of three is actually really beautiful. I love that I can play with her when M is busy doing something. I love it when she takes my hand, or wraps her arm around my neck. As hard as it may be to see my DINK friends travel, and enjoy their weekends, or see my friends with multiple children post their gorgeous baby bumps and adorable newborns, I have to lay aside my envy. I remind myself that everyone has an individual path to walk. Right now, ours is as family of three. We may add two more feet in our future, but we may not. And that’s okay. Just please stop lecturing me. I’m sorry I’m not living up to your vision of my life, but we’re still evolving as a family. We just may be taking another path.