Should I have another child?

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I happened to meet up with a mama of a one-year old last week and we got to chatting.  She comes from a bigger family and her husband has a couple of siblings too.  They always imagined they’d have a couple of kids themselves, but now they find themselves wondering

Is one child enough?  How will things change if we have another baby?

I think many parents of one child can relate to this…and as a mama of THREE I do have some insights to share:

1. You will have enough love in your heart for additional babies

I remember the days, while pregnant with baby #2, when I questioned if I could love another baby as much as I loved my first.   Turns out, most women ask themselves that very same question.  I now know my heart has room for the three children I have…and all those that will never come to be for my family.  (Yup, I would love my future fourth child just as much, but that’s not in the cards right now.) Our hearts have room for babies we carry, babies that are adopted, babies that we parent in any/all capacities because our room for love is endless.  Trust me, you will love your second, third, fourth… just as you love your first.  There will be times when they all drive you crazy, but you’ll never waiver in your love for them.

2. A sibling is a gift to your first child – not a detriment to their life

My kids are truly best friends with each other.  Granted they are only 3, 5, and 7 so it may not last forever, but that’s okay.  While they live together I want them to get along and be playmates!  My boys share a room and if one is not there the other can not settle down easily.  The kids always look for one another from the moment they wake up til the moment they go to sleep.  Occasionally they bicker; and we do our best to let them solve their own problems – and they do!  We also make an effort for everyone to get alone time with Mommy or Daddy so they end up in any combination of two ~ allowing them to connect with each other individually.  We have awesome game nights, family bike rides, hikes in the woods, and we can spend the whole day at the beach…just us!  They entertain, help, love, support, fight, play, sleep, bath, play sports, and adore one another!

Oh, and best of all, a child of two or three years of age will NEVER remember life before their sibling.  Wild, right?

3. Children learn so much from siblings!

Where to begin…there are so many things my children have learned from one another!  Everyone wants to be like their big brother so they try to keep up in sports or learning, but then again the younger siblings have talents the older ones want to emulate too.  When we tried roller skating for the first time a few weeks ago no one gave up!  No one was very good; they all stuck together, but they were excited to learn together and had fun.  They also learn things that are so much less tangible and also so important ~ like how to share, how to resolve conflicts, how to support someone, how to show empathy, how to give someone space, how to help one another…the list is endless.  My oldest son, age 7, gets breakfast ready for all 3 kids every morning (he can reach the bowls & cereals because he’s tallest).  My daughter bakes with me and brings treats for the boys when we pick them up at school – eagerly sharing with her big brothers.  When one is in trouble the other steps in to help Mom & Dad ease up on them (so endearing).  They beg for sleepovers where they can giggle and play til “midnight” in one room together.  They line up lego men and each pick their favorites, creating an equitable distribution so all can be content.  Watching them grow and love one another to this capacity has been truly remarkable.  I don’t worry about them having to share my attention because they now get attention from each other – and it’s much more hands-on play than I could ever provide!

4. They will grow up together

Isn’t it nice to grow up – or grow old – with people who remember your youth?  They will have each other to fill in the missing pieces of stories and vacations…because everyone will remember something different as our minds are funny like that.  They can reminisce and remind each other of who they were, are, and the importance of that foundation.  They will understand things about each other that others might not get.  Oh, we’re a quirky bunch…we’ll all be laughing for years at the songs we’ve invented, the silly jokes we tell, the chasing games, etc.  And then, sigh, when Daddy and Mommy pass, as we most certainly will, they’ll have each other as a comfort and support.  They’ll have shared memories to connect them, to remember us by, and to keep them going on hard days.  They’ll have children who will be cousins…and maybe even friends…with their own family traditions and memories.  They won’t be alone in childhood or adulthood.

5. You’ll be different parents the second time around

Considering that you are already a parent, your life won’t change as dramatically as it did the first time around.  And, who knows, you might find yourself to be a better parent the second time around.  You’ve got so many tricks to being a parent now that you didn’t have before your first baby.  You have confidence, experience, and wisdom that will make you a more relaxed mama.  You can throw out things you tried that didn’t work; and try things you never tried before!  I’ve parented all three infants quite differently and have enjoyed the ride.  Third time has been quite the charm 🙂

I’m not saying one can’t have a fulfilling life with one child.  I’m suggesting that you WILL love that second baby; your kids WILL entertain each other and learn from their sibling(s); and they will share so much along the way.  In my experience, life has actually gotten easier since having a second child.  And if you could see what your first child might share with your second, you’d understand that it’s ok to take the plunge.

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