It is a question both Ian and I are asked on a regular basis. Today, I’m answering it in a piece for The New York Times Motherlode. Because I’m efficient like that.
The intimate inquiry somehow feels like fair game for anyone from casual acquaintances, work colleagues, and school administrators to close family and friends. Since we already have two kids – a boy and a girl – people assume it’s not an offensive thing to ask because it’s not fraught with initial fertility struggles or gender issues. Yet in my house, it’s a loaded topic. I want more, Ian does not.
So what do you do in a situation where there is absolutely no shot for compromise? How do you resolve something as significant as the size of your family when the two people responsible for them disagree so strongly? Well, if you are me, you experience your “go-to” impulse. Flight. After peeling back layer after layer of what it means to have a big family, and how far apart we were on so many of those issues, I didn’t know what else to do besides call for the parachute and eject.
So, I decided to talk about it. With everyone.
“Do you want more?” is a question asked casually between friends and family, but very few share their stories about how they ultimately decided they were done having babies. Some have the decision made for them – by infertility or illness. Some refuse to make any decision and end up with massive families. Others regret letting their child-bearing years expire without really talking about it. Still others rejoice in the freedom of knowing those years are behind them. Just because there are a range of answers and experiences, doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it. I wish we would.
This is a short story about a deep and complicated issue. It’s not a happy story. It’s meant to make you think. It’s meant to make you share. It reveals some of my personal struggles behind that deceptively simple question, “are you going to have more children?” After you read the piece, I hope you will comment and let me know if there is something specific you relate to in my perspective. If not, I’d love to hear this from you: how did you know you were done? Or if you aren’t done yet, do you and your partner agree when “enough is enough?” Was there ever a point when this discussion was contentious in your house?
Read my story here on the Motherlode.