How do you know you're ready to have kids? I would ask that question of my friends that were moms before I became one, and they would always answer, "You're never ready for it." Now that I am a mom, I would say that's a very true statement. I think you just have to keep an open mind and have open hands to what life may give you. And then, if you have a child, the next question becomes, "When do you know you're ready to have another?" Although, for me, I always knew if I had one I would at least have two if I could help it. Here's why...
You see, I'm an only child, and I hate it. I've always felt this way about it and I still wish I could have siblings. It's lonely being the only kid. There's a lot of pressure with the role too.
These feeling are no surprise to my parents. However, they were very intentional about having only one. They came from big families of four and five kids where there wasn't a lot of money or opportunity to travel and have nice things. My parents, based on their experiences, didn't want that for me. When I would ask why they only had one they would say, "We wanted to give you the world." Their hearts were pure and good. They had a peace that their little family was complete, and that they were making the right choice.
But, I want to take a moment to shine some light on why I really didn't enjoy being the only child. Everyone seems to think that we are spoiled rotten with toys and attention, however, most only children I know received less attention. Parents can't be playmates all of the time, and siblings often take on that role when you add more kids to the family. So what happens in a family where there's just one? Well, we become "responsible" earlier and we start "adulting" earlier because our friends are our parents. Or, we develop a very good imagination and start occupying ourselves. Either way we become very independent kids, so much so that as adults I often have too full of a plate and don't know how to just play and celebrate like the rest of the world.
I wish I had siblings to talk to about handling my parents or to share grief when loss comes. I wish my kids had aunts and uncles to love on them from my side. Only children often marry people with siblings and then have to learn how to become siblings half way through their life. It's really HARD. Not to mention, expectations of friendships are higher for only children because we look at our friends like family. Whereas our friends don't really see us like that because they have their own brother and sisters. It may be the only choice for many families or the financially responsible choice for families, but this is what I would say if you're thinking about only having one...
Be ready to play and spend even more time with your kids than the average parent. Also, live near family where cousins and grandparents can keep your kiddo company and give attention to them. Make sure they have a lot of friends to play with, and even invite a friend along on trips.
And as for our family, the question just became, "When should we have another child?" For us that just happened to be exactly three years after Elle was born. I really love the age gap (not too far and not too close). I think the key question to whether or not you should have children or have more children is, "Is my family complete?" I promise that in your heart and your spouse's heart you'll know the answer. Our family is complete at two kids, and knowing that in my heart makes me savor everything even more.
To learn about other experiences and perspectives on this question of having more kids, check out these other stellar mamas' blog posts as part the "Real Mom Series."