A little below the surface
In two months time Amelia will be two. I can hardly believe it. I noticed over the weekend that she really has become a little girl – a little girl who giggles and tickles and collects things like shells and buttons and puts them in her backpack and who sits up at the table in cafes and orders “cake!” and who has an increasingly vivid imaginary life that has nothing to do with the rest of us. I don’t miss my little baby because I am totally in love with this little girl. I found the baby stage incredibly hard and quite terrifying and now I am beginning to feel life open up before us in the most exciting ways rather than closing in around me which was so scary and tiring for so long.
Because she is turning two people are starting to ask me when we are going to have our next baby. People in shops ask, people I have never met before feel compelled to find out. There are women in my mother’s group who have had their second or who are pregnant and soon will and my romantic dreams of a house full of sleeping babes is always in the back of my mind. I had always imagined that I would have two if not three.
Well, first things first. Let’s get a house and move out of my parent’s place — I feel like we are living in a parallel reality here. It’s lovely but not quite real. Even contemplating pregnancies and babies while we are all living under one roof is totally ridiculous… although the lady in the local bakery (when she asked the “and when are you having number two?” question) suggests that this is the best time to have a baby because of all the extra help. I didn’t bother explaining to her the possibility of extended family implosion if this were to happen.
Secondly, to be completely honest with myself, I don’t know if I really want to have another child right now or even next year. It really goes without saying that I love Amelia to bits and have never regretted having her (well perhaps at the odd moment in those early days at 3am after hours of crying and the agony of breast feeding, but I was not myself!) but perhaps it is because I am too selfish, or too tired, or I am too enamored with my work and time to do my own stuff that the idea of going through all the baby thing again is totally unappealing to me. I wish I were different. I wish I found total satisfaction in motherhood, I really do. I thought I might be a natural mother but I have found myself at times over the last two years raging and resenting this new role – perhaps from immaturity or perhaps from selfishness (as my kind neighbour suggested) – and with great sadness I have looked at myself and have seen that I am not the woman of my fantasies.
So having spoken to Big-P about these things, and hearing that he will be ok with whatever route we take (of course), I started to feel incredibly sad, and I guess it was a strange kind of grieving that began to settle in. I have always packed up Amelia’s special clothes and put them away carefully ready for “the next one” and to think that I would just give them away seems impossible. The idea that we might sell her cot when she moved into her own bed is awful and to never again go through all these magical phases is heart breaking. But I am being realistic. And now I realise that the only reasons I would be having another one is because I would worry that Amelia might be lonely and that I don’t want to disappoint my mum and my mother-in-law. Definitely not the best reasons to bring a little child into the world.
So I was lamenting to my wonderful friend Special-K last night about my new found realisations and she dropped the most blessed pearl of wisdom on me. She told me that I should stop worrying as I have about another 8 years (or more!) up my sleeve to make my final decision. I can’t tell you how relieved I felt! Why I was torturing myself I don’t know. I kept thinking that if we were going to have another it should be right away so that we have children who are all around the same age. But it really doesn’t matter if they are two years or 10 years apart, does it? Granted, they will have a different kind of relationship, but the idea that I don’t have to make this decision right now is such a relief!
So now I am going to relax and have a short term plan of having many adventures with my wonderful number one. I am going to plan to keep studying (as I have finally found a course that I love!) and plan to keep creating fabric things and make moves to get back into illustration and finally write that children’s book I have been putting off. And when and if number two comes into our lives they will be as welcome and as loved as they deserve to be.
And now because there are wonderful things all around:
How to be creative — (via Boing Boing – so you’ve probably already seen it but I thought it was worth noting anyway)
Cut + paste blog — one very crafty girl
and Frecklewonder is another
The Lomo home of Jshen — Lomos and Blythe dolls, heaven
You spoke what is on my heart as well. But I’ve found that peace, that place and I’m ready for the next special soul to enter my life…
Ooooh yes! You have struck the nail on the head for me as well. My boy is a few months over 2 and it is only in the past month or so that I could even THINK about having another one–it seems like I just got my life back (literally, it seemed like it mysteriously went missing for 2 years and then casually sauntered back in one day).I also fret over the age gap thing–should we have one now or is a 3 or 4 or 5 year gap okay? Do I really want 3 kids or is my fantasy of a charmingly messy, chaotic house full of family really just delusional? (ie. Would I go insane and become a shrieking, neurotic banshee if I had another baby?)
Is it best to have all the baby-bearing over with in the stretch of a few years and then focus on what I want to do career-wise, or is it better to take a break in between so that I have some semblance of a life now? I could go on and on with the questions(obviously), so suffice it to say that I’m really torn, as you are.
As we didn’t plan this child but are (of course) delighted by him, I kind of just throw my hands up and say well, when the next one comes, he/she comes. (Very passive, I know.) Now that we know what having a baby REALLY entails, we are at least prepared for the next time ’round, and know that it takes a good 2 years before a sense of freedom returns for the parents.
One last thing–I agree with the person above who said that you’re perspective on having a second child could change in 6 months or 6 years, my desire for another has increased over the past few months even though I have been a grouchy, reluctant, and resentful mum at times.
And because there’s a 9-month lapse (or more)between the decision and the arrival of the next baby, chances are that I’ll be even more “ready” for another when the next one is actually born.
Claire: Wow. How many women think that to be a ‘natural mother’, they have to be perfect all the time and never have second thoughts or thoughts about themselves. I can tell from the things that you write that you are a wonderful mom to your little girl. She will have a wonderful family life whether she has a sibling or not because she has parents who love her and try their best. I have several friends who have only one child, whether by choice or not, and their kids are happy and very well-adjusted. Please give yourself a break. Take life as it comes and don’t doubt yourself so much. Your heart and spirit will lead you where you need to be. Diane
Dear Claire,I really enjoyed reading this post of yours, you have written something beautiful. Anna
Your honesty is wonderful, and there is such joy to be had in enjoying your one beautiful child blossom, and having energy and interest for your own self as well. My brother and I are seven years apart, and are very close siblings. Growing up, we each felt like we had all the attention and individuality of one-child families, as the age difference (and wonderful parents) meant we were never in competition with one another, only each others’ biggest fan.
You will know when/if the time is right.
Hi ClaireBeautifully written post. I have always appreciated your candor, and oftentimes I find myself feeling remarkably the same. Rest assured that you are not alone in the challenge to balance motherhood with “selfhood.” It seems as if you have found a nice balance now….enjoy it! Guilt free! And as the moon said, you will know when/if the time is right.
Hi Claire,I know exactly how you feel. Its great reading your blog because so much of it is similar to what I’m going through. When I was retrenched 4 weeks ago, everyone said “Oh now you can stay home with Jacob” and they seem really shocked when I mention that I still take him to day care. Besides needing to keep our ‘place’ in case I get another job, I just really enjoy having a few days a week to myself. I adore Jacob but it is so full on when you are looking after a baby. And I think at nearly-40 I’m just to old and selfish to be a full-time mum! I wish I also had the luxury of 8 years before I have to decide about the next one. Unforunately at almost-39 its more like 8 weeks!
good on you claire… that was a beautiful post and such honesty. good luck with everything, can’t wait for this book 🙂
I hate myself for feeling peer pressure when, one by one, everyone in my mothers’ group is announcing their ‘good news’ about babe no.2. I wonder what is wrong with me that I cannot even contemplate going there again – even though my precious child is my joy-thing. I too rejoice in the new grown up personhood he is finding, and have no sentimental longings for his baby days. I have even started giving away his clothes because I think that even if there is another one, I will buy fresh things then, and somebody else can enjoy those hand-me-downs now.Thank you for being so honest and voicing what so many of us feel.
I am so glad that your friend gave you the breath of fresh air you needed in your second child thinking. There’s no fixed plan as to when or whether you have another, but you may be surprised that in 6 months or 6 years all your feelings about another child are different.
I certainly found Zac’s babyhood trying (that is such an understatement! I had many 3am moments of believing I had made the wrong choice in having a baby) and couldn’t imagine doing it again even when my friends were having second children – sometimes I almost froze in fear at the prospect of going through it again. But one day I woke up and discovered I really did want another child for its own sake and you can see the results of that decision!
As with everything to do with children, so much can change in such a short time. I hope that concentrating on what’s making you happy now will help you to make the right decision – whatever that might be.
I know just how you feel. Ours is three, and we’ve been getting that question since he turned one.
My husband and I talked about this quite a bit, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not something you can answer for sure at any time during your first’s growing up. Every time is the perfect time. Every time is the worst time.
We’ve decided to have another when Jake is in school. We know we want to have another because we’re both only children, and that can be a lonely situation when one is older. Watching my mother go through the death of both her parents, I know she wouldn’t have made it through without her sister. I want Jake to have that kind of support.
You know, even if Adam and I have no clue about raising siblings. 🙂
But the answer will come. And trust me, thing are much more interesting when you aren’t a perfect parent.
Claire! There is no rule anywhere that says “you will give birth and you will feel strong maternal feelings for your child”! I’m sure a lot of these feelings women have comes from outside subconscious pressures. The most wonderful thing you could do for any child, and which you are doing, is THINKING about whether you and your family are ready! Be kind to yourself. BTW, your blog is one of the reasons I’ve just started mine. You are my “blogtor or mentog” I’m not sure which one I prefer. Thank you!
Thanks for being so open and lucid about all that – very thought-provoking even for a bloke. If you do have more children then here’s another point on the plus side – the world needs more people a bit like you! (this is not of course to suggest that children are copies of their mother and father, but you have a chance to pass on your values at least…)
My brother and I are seven years apart and we turned out just fine. In fact it was a boon for my mother because my brother was fiercely protective of me. He always looks after me and taught me all sorts of things, including how to talk! Theres no hurry…
I have been reading for quite some time but just haven’t ever commented. This post, however, really moved me. Your honesty and openness are just beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with all of us.
Best wishes in all you do!
Good on you claire. That was a lovely, honest post.
By the way, I some times think the bigger the gap, the better – you’re not competing with each other, and the younger one can properly look up to the older one while the older one can really feel a sense of responsibility over the other. that’s the way with my bro (5 years older than me).
I win, I win, I win! My sis and I are 10 years apart! 🙂
She is 10 years older than me, which means that in primary school i could brag about my big sister and her guitarist boyfriend. She took me ice skating with her friends when she was about 16, and it felt so cool to be going skating with the big kids! She had her first kid when i was in 8th grade, so I changed the first diaper before i went to high school. These are just some of the many things that are memories of our age difference.
10 years is a lot, and there were a lot of times when we were fighting and annoying each other, but also, seeing her making the decisions she made, how good a mother she is, how devotedly she is doing her job, whatever company she’s working for, these are all things that taught me about life. She is a role model, even though we are very different in a lof of respects, and with some of her decisions i do not agree. Still, she is a kind of benchmark in my life, and i am greatful for that.
There really is no rush Claire! Enjoy your life, and you’ll know when you are ready for the next one.
Claire, Thank you for your post. There are many of else that have those same feelings. It is difficult to decide which path to take. I had the same realisation as you when I had my first. I wanted a big family. However, it was a huge struggle for me to have babies. So, my choise was, to have them close together and “get it over with”. Sounds silly. But as they grew iot was so wonder ful. The older they got the more fun they have been. I was finally able to reconcile my feelings about thinking I was selfish (NOT) when I realised I just didn’t like babies. I love children and young adults!
Whatever your choice, it’s yours, Special K is right! You’ve got plenty of time.
Thank you so much for a beautiful, revealing post. Maybe I am just a greedy voyeur, but I think that confessions like this help us all to understand ourselves better and know that we are not alone.
Thanks for your post, Claire. I haven’t had any kids yet – I want to, but there’s things that I want to do first and I often agonize about whether or not I’m doing the right thing by waiting. I’ve probably got another 8 years or so too – it’s a great way of looking at it, thanks for sharing.
thank you, claire. i really needed to read this today. you have helped me.
Claire, this entry has touched me in more ways than one. I am going through similar things and Ive been getting the same query, When are you having baby number two? from relatives, to doctors, to co-workers. Honestly, I havent thought about it yet. I am still enjoying number one who is now 28 months old. Maybe next year, Ill consider it. Thank you for your honest thoughts and for sharing them wonderfully.
My older sister and I are nine whole years apart. When she was a teenager, she resented having to babysit me all the time, but we’ve grown into a good sister/friend relationship. I’m even the godmother of her daughter, who’s one and a half 🙂 You have plenty of time! Besides, it’ll be easier to explain a new bebe to Amelia when she’s a bit older. She’ll remember the birth and being a big sister and all that. No worries.
My warm greetings to you and Amelia. You are brave to share your deep feelings with us. And don’t worry about the next baby, or when he will come. You will be ready and will do a great job with more experience and confidence. And don’t look for a reason to bring a child into this world. lol, I didn’t ask my parent about the reason!Your Amelia is about as old as my Jenin 🙂
I’m not a mother, but as I just got married and turned 30 two months ago, I know I’m a target for this well meant lecturing from other women. Actually A few of my male work collegues have started to bring it up and remind me my biological clock is ticking (cheek!).
From reading blog’s by women’s with young children, there seem’s to be a lot of pressure to “conform” and fufill other people’s high standards instead of taking things at your own pace. The awful slating that dooce had from stranger’s regarding her descision to ween her baby girl at six months springs to mind. To me that was out and out bullying!
I don’t think your selfish at all delaying having another child.My sister and I are over six apart and similar to moon’s experience, we weren’t comptative as kids either and had a great relationship throughout our childhood, much to our parent’s pleasure.
You know I read this post and it struck a cord with me, my little girl will be 2 this month she has her own personality her own little ways and it feels like we are a team together out to enjoy finding worms in the garden and making cakes. Evereyone asks me when Im having the next and i shrug it off and say “i havent really thought about it” but really I too must be selfish because I dont want to do it again I feel now as if Im rediscovering the identity I feel I lost when i became a mum and i dont want to be engulfed in sleepless nights and 3am feeds.
Ooooh yeah! I remember all those thoughts and feelings. I would see friend’s family photos with more than one child and think that we wouldn’t really be a family with just one. We took the plunge even though I was ambivalent and at 40 I had my second child. It’s been hard and sometimes I have irrationally blamed my husband for coercing me into it (like I didn’t have a choice!) I think that after these 1st 12 months are over and my oldest is at school I will feel so blessed to have ‘my baby’.
Hi Claire,RELAX!!! I have a 8 year gap between my two sons. One is now 9 and his life is full of his adventures and interests. He feels no jealousy towards his 20 month old brother, in fact he understands that at times we are distracted and our attention is not fully on him, and he can wander away and have some space of his own.
I always thought my house would at least not have the fights etc that closer aged siblings have, but how wrong I was. Liam arrives home from school and its off. They tear around the house together and make so much noise, and a piece of my heart sings at the sounds of their laughter.
I didn’t really get the maternal feeling until the birth of Cameron, our second child. I was always very maternal with the older one, but worked and needed more of my own space. This time round has been so very different. I feel this need to be here for both of the boys as they are at these different stages of life.
I think it worked out for us, and you will know when the time is right.
I was also terrified of having another baby, and even though I knew I wanted another one, I dreaded the first year, because I feel like after a year or so, they start to get “interesting” and more independant. My husband and I were also scared because no time seemed like the right time. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we did get pregnant again, by accident (I was on implanon, and had had it removed because it did not agree with me, and I was advised that it would take about 12 weeks before I was fully fertile again, I was pregnant within four weeks!). For about a week, I was sort of excited, then I was just worried and nervous.Now my daughter is six months old, and my husband and I realise that we forgot about all the nice things about babies.
I think you will know when the time is right, and whenever you have a second, it will be the perfect time for you and your family. And if you never have a second, that will be perfect too!
Claire, don’t worry about age differences…my little sister is turning 14 this year, and I’m turning 22 and trust me, we have a LOT of good times together. Plus, it feels good to know that there is someone that looks up at you and relies on you! I don’t think I would have it any other way 😀
hi claire.. i’ve recently got a little niece and yes, babies are wonderful gifts. enjoy amelia. 😉 btw, which school are you taking your screen print classes in? i’m from singapore and i plan to take a screen print class in australia. if it’s not too much trouble, could u just tell me which uni you’re having classes in? my email is email@example.com. thanks so much!
A beautiful post, Claire. I think too often we’re all determined to push ourselves in some direction, without realizing that we don’t necessarily have to stick our pre-conceived agenda. Sometimes the best things come to us when we just relax.
For me, I have something of the opposite dilema – wanting more children (I have a 15 month old), and fearing that, as a single mother who is wise enough to know that having more children out of wedlock isn’t the smartest move in the book, I won’t get a chance to do that. But who knows what the future holds? If I trust in the universe, it will lead me where I need to go, even if it isn’t where I quite had in mind.
If I had a dollar for every time I was asked when we were having number 2, I would have been a rich woman. What made it worse was that we were desperately trying to have no. 2 and things just werent working out for us. So every time a complete stranger asked me I felt like going into all the details of us trying for number 2, just to make them squirm, but I never actually did. Anyway, Alice arrived last November and there is a gap of three years and four months between her and Beth and it is just delightfull. Beth really appreciates Alice, has no problems sharing her toys with her, is a great “helper” and we havent had to buy two of anything because Beth had grown out of her cot, pram, car seat etc etc, so she has been a very economical baby. I always pictured myself with a brood, but am very happy and content now with my two girls and I wonder however I would be able to nurture and give quality time to any more than two? So now I am asked when we are having number three and when I reply that we aren’t, I get the big wave of sympathy for the loss of the boy that we will never have !!!!!! So whatever your decision, you will always have some well intentioned stranger imparting their “two bit” on your situation. As long as you are happy with your lot in life, you can’t help but have a good chuckle at these people. And at the end of the day, how lucky are we even to have one? I often remind myself of this when I am having another of my zombie like days from complete lack of sleep and am struggling to make it through the day.
claire,i am 24 and my sister 14. i consider her a blessing in my life and one of my best friends. the distance in years did not dampen our closeness. as she enters her teen years, we bicker and exchange records. she steals my clothes and we talk about the future. just like sisters do.
How nasty for some person to call you selfish for your family choices! I think that is truly apalling.
I don’t have children but was raised in a family that was quite spread out. The only thing I’ve learned from families is that they are all different, just like every child is different. You can hope that a second child will be your first’s best friend and that the first will protect the second but it doesn’t always work that way. So, my feeling is that you become a parent when it feels right for you and you become a parent to a second or third child when you are ready for to and you raise them with all the love and care and energy that you are capable.
P.S. It’s been a joy “watching” Amelia grow up on your pages. Two years? Really? Goodness!
Thank you for writing that Claire. I have the same feeling myself and your words on the subject today are perfect timing. 🙂
oh, i relate to this post so much! my girl’s going to turn two in 23 days and everyone is asking when the next one is coming. i say, “no no no! no more kids.” i know i don’t want to have another one now and i am also relieved i don’t have to make this decision anytime soon.
thank you to everyone who has left a comment. I have been mulling over this entry for weeks now, and it felt good to finally put it out there. I really appreciate your feedback and your own stories and thoughts. I realise how lucky I am to be able to even have such a dilemma, but it doesn’t make it any easier, so thank you!
wow, when 38 comments are left in the space of 24 hours it must be an interesting topic, had to read them. I scan the mothering websites and never find stuff as interesting as this. With a one year old girl this issue is relevant to my life too. I have enjoyed my baby’s first year but the feeling of motherhood is different from what i expected. I guess it’s less gushy than i expected. Going off on a tangent, when i wonder about having another child I keep thinking of all the families I know that only have one daughter and then i can hardly think of any that just have one boy. I wonder why.
Just thought i would let you know my experience with my sibling and ages. How close in age 2 siblings are has nothing to do with their friendship. I am 21 and have a brother that is 32. When i was young he was my idol. I looked up to him so badly! (it was funny!!) As i have grown older we have become great friends. I have been living with him for the past 5 months (while i settle into my first job and look for a place) and we have a friendship that could never be broken.
At 33 I haven’t had any children, which I think is pretty normal, but from time to time I worry about comments made by my family… thanks to Special-K for her words of wisdom!Claire, this is a wonderful site… I can’t imagine my day without taking a peek to see what beauties you have to share.
Again Claire, what openness and honesty you’ve been lovely enough to share with us all! its so good to share these thoughts and anxieties isn’t it. After my 7mths of parenthood the promise of a little more independence each day is exciting and I feel guilty for the thoughts but to be mauled and scratched and bitten is a shock for anyone isn’t it, who thought babies were sedentary little cherubs! I love my little boy so much but also know that his 3 mornings of nursery is doing us all a load of good. To go through it all again is such a mammoth commitment that no one should take lightly and if it takes you 10 years to crank up the energy then who cares! At least you’re being realistic about the time that’s going to be invested in loving number 2. And if you stop at one then no one should point the finger for that either! How lucky Amelia is to have such a creative and extraordinary Mum. These aspects of who you are should be celebrated not berrated! Congrats and thanks to you and for all the other lovely posts. xx
I am the oldest of four, my three siblings are all much younger than me. I think it was the best gift my parents could have given me, being able to watch them grow up and appreciate them almost as much as my parents did, because I was old enough to realise what a magical thing was happening around me. All power to you claire!!!
Just one more person to say… thank you, I feel the same way. I realize that I do not need to hurry, decisions can be made later in time.
Dear,My sister and I are 9 years apart! I think it’s great this way! I’m over the fighting and she looks up to me! It’s a great feeling, and I can’t wait for the day that she needs her big sister!
So my parents took their time… and so should you!
You know, I was once in the same mind frame you are in now. But within 6 months that changed completely and I was ready. There was no great revelation, I was just ready one day. I will say that there is no point in planning appropriate age differences for your kids. From reading these comments many seemed very happy with a big age gap between themselves and their siblings. I was never happy with mine. So you never know what will be right for them.Don’t worry about it now. Enjoy the journey.
My sister and I are 10 years apart and my brother, 13 years. While I didn’t have a close relationship with then when I was younger, I’m close with them now and am happy since they’ve been where I am and going, so I can always ask for advise^___^ 2 years or 10, they will always have each other.
Go with your heart – you’ll know when (and if!) it’s the right time. I had no say in the matter; apparently God thought that three babies in two years was a good idea, but we joke that he must have known I wouldn’t have had them otherwise. 😉 Cherish the time with Amelia and honestly don’t worry about future babes – you will know when the time is right. Thank you for a beautiful and truthful post – I understand completely. <3
ClaireI also struggle wiht these quesitons, so it was nice to read your post about this.
Alos, I now have a cold, so I actually thought of you (heh, sorry)
best of luck with your own decisions.
hello therei just recently found your blog and have noticed we have some very similar interests, knitting, sewing, larry gianettino, the gocco, etc etc. anyways, i think that for myself, i am always feeling as if i have fallen short of being the perfect mother i had envisioned i would be. does that make me feel human, absolutely. and i guess all i can say is that if you love your daughter, and you do, you are doing a fabulous job. mothering is HARD work, even though some tend to think it’s just the most “natural” thing in the world, they think that about breastfeeding too, but that’s a whole other post. anyways, i felt pressure to have a second child shortly after my first as well. and indeed, i do have 2 beautiful boys, one 4, the other 18 months, and i can’t imagine not having either, but there are times when it;s hard, and i resent them and wonder what my life would have been like if i never had either. i was also really worried about loving one more than the other. they are just so different form one another and i have found that i love them equally. i guess i’m not getting to any point here other than you have the sensibility of being a fantastic mother whether it’s for an only child or for five children. i felt very moved and also akin to your feelings.
i only recently decided to visit ur site after lettin’ it sit in my favourites 4 about 2 months. i first read about in the green guide in the age and thought i should check it out coz it sounded good (and there was one of ur pretty pics accompanying it). I don’t have much in common with you since i am only a teenager and i’m not a mum or into knitting but i enjoy reading ALL the stuf u write on ur site. Keep up the gr8 wk! 😉
Claire,I have a beautiful little daughter of my own and will probably not have another child, so I found this entry very poignant. Regarding her special clothes, my mother gave me the idea of eventually making Gabrielle’s into a quilt!