So, in a recent blog I announced our big decision – just to have one child. Since making that decision so much stress has been lifted from our shoulders. We are lighter, we are happier, we are planning where we were once putting things on hold because we thought our lives would need to pause with a second child (and maybe, if that did happen, they wouldn’t need to anyway!).
It wasn’t an easy decision, and I don’t want anyone to think that. But it’s one we’re happy about.
In saying that, it doesn’t mean there aren’t doubts, so I wanted to catalogue a few of the things I’ve been feeling or encountering since making the decision – mostly so that anyone going through the same thing can feel, I dunno, normal.
Related post: We have some news
Being at a different stage to your friends
One of the wonderful things about having a baby is the wonderful friends you make along the way. For me, those friends are my mothers’ group. That group of women who I meet every Thursday morning for a play, a coffee and the occasional slice of banana bread. We talk about our highs and lows, and support each other all the time.
Lately, I find myself feeling really sad about the prospect of these days ending. I am now the only one with one child, and some are even onto number three. In a little over a year my girl will be going to school. Those lazy mornings in the park will be no longer – or they will involve me hanging around sans child.
I realise this is just what happens, but the prospect is making me very sad. The onus is on me to make sure I still see these wonderful women, but I’m also very conscious of the fact that having one child (and of the older batch of kids) makes things different for me. I’m not bound to naps, I don’t need to worry about things being toddler-friendly. I have a different set of concerns.
As I’m writing this it all sounds very trivial, but the prospect of drifting apart from my very good friends is something that really makes me sad (and I hope won’t happen).
Related: Is your mothers’ group evil?
Not being able to look people in the eye
After telling a few people about our decision to have one child, I came up with a new way to do it. Not to look people in the eye. I couldn’t handle the look of shock, or sadness, that came in people’s faces when I told them the news.
Some people have been super supportive – in fact some are arguably TOO supportive! Others, though, don’t understand. They want to know why. They feel sad that missy is missing out. They feel sad for me, someone who is relishing motherhood. They feel sad for my husband, questioning whether it was a joint decision. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’m happy in our decision, but I can no longer handle that look in people’s eyes, and I no longer have the energy to help them understand. For a while there I felt that I was spending time justifying our decision, which is not at all necessary.
Never having maternity leave again
Lately I’m finding myself really missing the days of just me and missy (I always feel this way this time of year, remembering the early days after she was born). When we were thinking of number two I thought, “How nice to have that time with her again” (yes, I realise that it’s not the same with a second child, but ignorance is bliss). Now I’m all too aware that it’s over. That time of just being Mum is over. It surprises me how much that upsets me. How much I enjoyed that time. I’ve always been career-focused but that year I had with missy was one of the best years of my life.
It has led me to thinking about sabbaticals. To questioning why maternity leave has to be the only time we allow ourselves to stay home with our families. And to wonder what time might be best for me to take time off to be Mum. Is it when she starts school? Is it when she turns 15 and everything feels awkward and difficult for her? I don’t know the answer, but I’m starting to think that maybe instead of saving for a baby, saving for a sabbatical might be a really nice idea.
It’s not all bad. In fact, most of it is really, really good. And while I don’t have doubts in our decision, I still allow myself to feel sad at the things that I’ll miss. But there’s so much to gain. And so many new things to learn. I mean, I would never even have considered a sabbatical if we were having two children! I feel that we are going to have so much more opportunity as a family because of our decision. And our little girl is wrapped up in a warm cocoon of love and security that I’m so proud of.