I read this post by Bangaloremom on “reasons to get married”. She delurked and commented on my previous post and mentioned that one of my posts about “stopping with one child or going for the second” started a raging war at her home. And as you may have read in my previous post – having two children and taking care of both – especially the first few years - can really push you to the limits of your patience. So in the context of all this, I was thinking to myself – What would be some reasons to go for a second? Would I still do it if I had a choice?
It is tempting to think of a life in general where the work is less than more, where worries stop with just one child rather than two etc…but in reality I think we all love to be pushed to the limit. If not with a child, we find other ways to push ourselves.
That said – why a second child? Let me first say – this is just my own personal opinion. I am not asking you in particular to have a second child (not that you would for that reason anyway!). I am again gathering my thoughts regarding this issue. If my close friend were to discuss this issue with me, I would feel at liberty to strongly advocate going for a second child rather than stopping with one child. Aside from the fact that misery loves company and I would make sure to drag such a close friend into the net with me – why would I be telling her to go for a second?
This used to be my thought process while talking to my husband before we decided to go for a second:
Goodness, I have to go through pregnancy all over again?!
What happens to my career – I can feel my brain rusting and chipping off and falling out of my head as it is – now I have to wait another two years? (Day care was not an option for me for at least one year minimum – for several reasons – let me not go into that). And the cost of raising two kids?
The tension of waiting till a healthy child is delivered?
Do you know what it was like to feed KB this afternoon – to have to do this for two kids?!
I just went back to being able to wear my old pair of jeans – you want me to go back to maternity size and start from there all over again?
It’s not like you and your sister keep talking to each other all the time – so why is it so important for KB to have a sibling?
Well, you* are not the one who will be pushed to the limit – it is ME who will probably be on the verge of collapsing every night!
Those and variations of those dialogues featured during our discussions about this. Add to this my two brothers – one on each camp – telling me the benefits of having one or having two children. And mom who would not even hear of it if I said one is enough. “Nee edukku appdi solre? Rendu porakum’nu irundha poraka dhan pordhu. Neeya onnum solla vendam.” (Why do you have to say anything? If you are meant to have two, you will, you don’t have to say anything.) Hmm…are you saying contraception is not fool proof? I used to flippantly think when she said such things.
I have to say though the one person who was key (besides for obvious reasons of course) to this decision was B. He did not have any doubt that left to himself, the choice would clearly be two. I felt I could rely on him in all that this meant for both of us. His conviction made his reasoning also sound strong. He left it up to me to decide though since he did see that I had to give up more than he had to at that point.
I was personally very content with one child. But as with most people the over driving force in my decision was not because B wanted to have two but that I wanted KB to have a sibling and the other child to have KB. That and only that was my main reason. It was strong enough to convince myself that I simply have to do it for the sake of him and the second child. And now when I see them interacting even at this tender age – he is 27m old and she is 6m old – I have no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing. There are fleeting thoughts during moments of mental and physical fatigue if I did the right thing – not so much with respect to the child itself – but in over estimating my own energy levels – in going for a second child. But the next day dawns, I feel more rested and as soon as KB wakes up he wants to see “kutti baby”. And she gives this huge toothless grin at the sight of him. It is quite unbelievable actually – they act like buddies already. He simply dotes on his sister. I am sure he will be annoyed with her at times and there will probably be sibling rivalry and what not – but at the bottom of it all I can see that there will be friendship. It is already there – the natural bonding – we just have to nurture it and preserve it until it takes a form that will not be broken by anything. In his joy when he sees her first thing in the morning, I can visualize him celebrating her every victory – even if not in the young and restless teen years but later when he is mature. When she smiles back at him, I can see her relying on him as a friend, a confidante and someone she can count on always. May be the dreams of a parent – but I have invested a lot into these dreams – and I would like to believe it will become reality some day.
When I decided to get married (oh yes, I have to do that post on the post decision celebration in my family) finally, I called every one in my family one by one. One of my sisters (the only one who knew I had visited B) was teaching her daughter Math when I called her. She came to the phone and told me she could only talk for two minutes since she had to go help my niece.
“I said Yes”, I told her calmly.
She could not even believe what she heard.
I repeated myself.
“Please don’t joke about this, Noon”.
“No, am not joking, really”.
Pause. Silence on the other side.
A weak and trembling voice said, “Yeah am here”. She was crying. She could not contain her joy – she was crying so much. My niece walked into the room and said “ You are crying?”. A second later, I heard her say, “You are laughing?”. She then told my niece, “Chithi said Yes…she is going to be married soon”.
And that’s it – her math homework was forgotten for another half an hour. She had to know the fine details of how it happened, what made me decide…
You can go through all this joy with a close friend or a cousin as well. And I did too. But with my sister – she knew everything that I had gone through and how my mom and dad felt before this and how they would feel now – the feeling of that shared history - of knowing what this means to every member of the family – it cannot be put in words.
When my father passed away suddenly, the grief was unbearable – his body lying there cold and frigid in a casket. My father who would wear his winter hat at the slightest hint of cold weather. The sight of his body in ice cold condition was one of the worst moments I can think of. I felt like my heart would break and fall apart. At that point I was held together not by my grief stricken mother but by my siblings. They too were falling but the feeling that our loss, our grief was common – different from that of my mother’s. All of us knew how it felt to have lost a father at that point. All of us talked so much about what little things he did for us, the very things we miss so much now. How much he used to annoy us with little things – he would insist that I write the “from address” if I mail a letter to my friend, he would keep telling me not to have coffee at night before bed time etc etc…each of us had a different story. My sister was telling us about how he would come into the room when she was studying way past bedtime when she was in medical college and he would sit with her near the table and after a while insist she get some sleep at least before she went to college the next morning. She used to think he had no idea how much she had to study – now when she worries about her own children getting enough sleep, she knows how he felt. I am digressing here I know. But the point is that during such moments of extreme pain, the kind of support you get from your sibling/s is just enormous. I felt grateful to my parents then for giving me siblings. I imagined how it would have been for KB if we were both not alive and if he did not even have a sibling – well you can always imagine the extreme – but somehow at that point – I felt better thinking he will have a little sister who will be his own family. Who shares his history. Who has been raised under the same roof. Who I will do my best to make sure will love him dearly (and vice versa).
When we used to discuss this issue of going for the second child, B used to tell me “See how much fun it is when we go to visit your sister or my sister – how excited they are to see KB – don’t you want KB’s kids to have that – an aunt who will be excited to see his children? Even if he has cousin brothers and sisters – unless they live close to each other – it won’t be the same – they won’t feel as compelled to visit – but with siblings they will make it a point to meet – because they are siblings”. And I could imagine that scenario as well.
Both B and I knew that there is no one right answer to this. If say, I could not have a second child for medical reasons, the whole discussion would have not come up. We would have been happy to have at least one and move on with life. Either way, the kids will grow up, they will find a way to be happy. It is finally a choice that we make – in the way we envision their life and our lives around them. Now it feels good, it feels complete. I feel exhausted, I feel isolated – but at the end of the day – I still know deep down this was the right decision. You will be pushed to the limit, you will hate it all at times and want to run away. But I cannot imagine that if you had a second and you saw the two children together that you would even remotely regret your decision. You just won’t. The pain of raising them and worrying about their well being will be for ever but somehow that complete feeling you get when you walk into the room at night and see your two children sleeping peacefully – it will make up for all the down swings you go through during the course of the day. If someone decided that one child is what’s best for them, I would not even suggest to them that they should go for a second child. If you are someone who feels you would like to have two children, but are not able to make that leap – this post is for you. I was that way and this is how I feel now. It is your own personal decision – especially for the woman. If all else is manageable - in terms of medical condition, finance – and it is just a matter of not being sure – well, this is how I feel. Just wanted to share it with you!