The Magic Number?


I’ve never been a person who ‘just knows’ about things. Sure, I’ve been with the same man since I was 19, but there has been no ‘just knowing’ about it. There has been a lot of choosing, and working, and talking, and sometimes freaking out.

It’s the same with most things: houses, jobs, hairstyles. My approach is never to ‘just know’, and always to deliberate. Trust my gut? Nah. I prefer to trust many hours of tortured overthinking and introspection, and list-making. With tick-boxes.

But there was one thing I did just know about: I wanted a child. And then, when we’d been lucky enough to have her, I just knew I wanted another one. No overthinking required.

Two kids was a no-brainer. But THREE? Three is a possibility that I think I’ll always be on the fence about- at least until biology kicks me unceremoniously off the fence onto the side of ‘no can do’.

I have friends with three kids, and they just knew they wanted three (and they’re doing a damn good job of it). I’ve got friends with two kids, or one kid, and they just knew too. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one having a constant internal bicker with myself about this subject, with one voice bleating ‘yes, a baby, now please’, and the other admonishing bossily: ‘hell to the no, woman’.

(Here come the lists…)

In the “yes, a baby, now please” corner:

  1. Babies are lovely. Children are lovely. Being a mum is lovely, a lot of the time.
  2. I always wanted lots of children. That was before I had any, obviously. But having been one of four, and knowing how fantastic growing up in a big family can be, I think I’ll always feel a pang for a tribe.
  3. Babies really are lovely.
  4. I’m going to say this, and I’m not proud of it, but… There’s a swotty part of me, the part that got straight As at GCSES, that wants three in order to score top marks at mumming. It’s quite aspirational, having three. Not wanting another would feel a bit like an admission that I wasn’t loving having two- like proclaiming a cake delicious, but then declining another one. (Note to self: not a reason to have baby).

In the “hell to the no” corner:

  1. While I’m sure I could manage, technically, with three, I suspect I’d be frazzled. I’m not a coper like my mum-of-three friends. When we’re in the park, I panic if I can’t see both the kids, my head swivelling constantly from one child to the other like an electronic toy that has been through the washing machine, and I come across as really, really rude to whoever I am talking to. I have a tendency to break into a sweat when both are yelling MUMMY from different parts of the house. My hands feel full, literally and figuratively.
  2. The bits where being a mum is not so lovely, and even some of the bits that are lovely, are, well, really hard. There seem to be so many scenarios in parenthood where you are stretched to capacity: having a newborn; having a newborn and a toddler OMFG. Let’s be honest, even with older kids, leaving the house is sometimes like a mad dream where everything plays in reverse (why do they stand in the doorway like that, when you are trying to shut the door?). But these days, now that they are 4 and 7, I can manage. I can manage to put them both to bed without nearing breakdown, on my own when need be. Weekends are somewhat relaxing. It’s doable, having two. I like doable. Could we go back into the breach, really?
  3. As someone who has known the dark side of love and loss, having lost my sister at a young age, I know only too well that love also invites pain. And we’ve been so lucky, so bloody lucky, to get the two that we knew we wanted to have. Choosing to stick, rather than twist, feels like a way to protect my heart somehow.
  4. I don’t ‘just know’, and when it comes to whether or not to have more children, I’m starting to think that ‘just knowing’ is the best barometer.

So maybe it really is time to hang up my uterus, and appreciate that I am, actually, hashtag blessed with two, and borrow other peoples’ babies for  squishing and surreptitious head-sniffing.

And if that fails to quell the broody beast within, well, we’re still in our mid-thirties- by the skin of our teeth- and I do warn G regularly that I may simply lose my mind in a couple of years and suddenly demand another one (assuming it’s possible, obviously).

I mean, babies. They are so very lovely.





2 thoughts on “The Magic Number?

  1. This is a lovely article and I feel your dilemma. I have two aged 4 and 2 and we recently decided to go for the third. This is the list of reasons I sent my husband (and to which he said yes!!):
    – Because we only have one shot at life, and one opportunity to make our family, and that time is now.
    – Because we know that, above all else, a person will bring love, and that is more important than space or time or money.
    – Because we shouldn’t let fear of the short term or of hard work get in the way of our future; that just isn’t us.
    – Because one day it will be just you and me, holding hands as we walk through a park, and this is one thing I know we won’t regret.
    – Because I love you, and I love what we have created more than anything in the world, so in these rare moments of clarity nothing else matters.
    – Because although I joke it will break us, I know it won’t. It will make us whole.

    And now? Yes, now I am pregnant with twins!! Didn’t consider that scenario at the time….!

  2. You would find number three a completely different experience having the larger gap and having two older more independent children (as compared to having 2 babies within 2-3 years of each other). Number three for me has been the most delightful, wonderful mumming experience, you have everything on your side from all your learnings from the first 2, the benefit of a bigger gap and the dynamic of watching your older two interact with the baby and see their ‘parenting’ nurturing side evolve. I completely agree with all Jo’s comments – it is REALLY hard and times when you are pulled in three directions (espesh once No3 is an independent minded want to do everything but can’t young toddler, a 7 yo going on 17 and an emotionally sensitive 5 yo!) but I keep telling myself, this is such a small bubble of time, the years fly by, and you will never regret having been through them, the day to day can be challenging, but it’s the bigger picture you keep you focus on – the Tribe growing around you. It is incredibly fulfilling having three, and like you, it feels good to get top top marks for Mumming! 🙂

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