Once you have your first child, everyone just assumes you will continue to have more children. Throughout your first year, you will be asked over and over again, “Is this your first?” Shortly after your child surpasses his or her first birthday, people will begin to ask you “So, when are you going to give him a brother or sister” or the classic, “Are you trying again yet?”
I wasn’t surprised that after the first year, there were many couples getting busy on Baby #2. We are bombarded with all of these messages about the alleged importance of having our children close together. Two years is preferable. Two evenly spaced years apart. In addition, we are frantic to give our child a sibling. We are told it will harm them if they don’t have a sibling. We think they need to have someone to play with or that only children end up self centered and spoiled.
I have to say I am fairly certain these ideas are urban myths perpetuated by the white middle class.
First, there is no evidence that spacing has any effect on child development. None. Second, there is not any real evidence having a sibling is beneficial to your child or that not having one is inherently damaging. Third, the assumption that only children do not have someone to play with is just that an assumption. There are many only children who grow up surrounded by other kids. Lastly, scores of siblings end up hating each other.
I think many times women and men keep having children because of the societal pressure to do so. They buy into the myth. It’s hard not to.
As you already know, my son is three. People frequently look at me like I have two heads when I tell them that I really don’t know if I want another kid. They make comments about feeling sorry for Gus. They look at me like I am hurting him. They think I don’t like being a mother because I might not have another child.
Here’s the deal. I don’t feel compelled to have another child just because others think I am supposed to. I also don’t feel compelled to have another child because it will prove to the world that I like being a mom and that I love my kid. I love Gus with every part of my being and I love being his mom. I also like how things are right now.
We have a good thing going in our small family. We function well together and we are all relatively well adjusted for the first time since he got here. I have no desire to shake it up again. None whatsoever. Things are good and I like our life. I don’t want to change it. Perhaps after I have had a few more years of sleeping, I will be ready and eager to give it up again, but I’m just not ready right now. Maybe someday. But not today.
When it comes to having more children, here’s what I’ve got to say.
Take your time and let the decision to have kids be one that is your own. Do it on your timetable. And do it because you want to. Don’t do it to prove you like being a mom. Do it because you can’t imagine not having another addition to your family.