September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
Last week I read this piece on the conflict between wanting more children but feeling the time has passed. The sentiments have remained on my mind since then, and I feel compelled to write my own version, specific to my own set of circumstances.
I remember myself as a child, fantasizing that instead of just one brother and sister, I had three of each! I loved the hustle and bustle and the sense of camaraderie I observed in larger families in my community. I remember one particular family we were close to, with six children. We used to go on regular holidays with this family: days of canoeing down the Kangaroo River, lots of bushwalking in the Blue Mountains, and a trip to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef that I was invited to along with one of their sons. I revered the can-do attitude of the parents, and the tight knit unit of their family.
I have always been a little bit all-or-nothing. I wanted no children, or lots! As a young woman, it was no children. Then I met my husband and rather quickly we were pregnant, and a whole new future opened up for me – a future that involved lots of children, a bustling house and that adventurous spirit I fell in love with as a child.
I love being pregnant. I love giving birth. I love nurturing babies and young children. Beneath the worry, I love the unchartered territories my eldest is dragging us into as he strides through his teenage years. And I do now have a large family, with five wonderful, individual children. We have had lots of adventures, though as number four and five have come along those adventures have changed, have become less carefree.
I know in my head that five is enough. Our house is full, our hands are full, our days are full. Meeting everyone’s needs in the family often feels impossible, despite the numerous gifts and positives that many siblings bring. We chose an independent school for these special souls, and that often pushes us to our limits financially. We began our family before we had established careers, and both Sol and I would like to catch up in this area, and even to get ahead. It is insanely hard trying to transition careers with so many dependents, and so many time demands. And then there is the whole population debate – I sense it is becoming less and less socially acceptable or responsible to create large families, in a world that many see as already over-populated.
Now our youngest is two, and we are moving out of the ‘baby stages’. Life has begun to get a little easier for us all. I tell myself that after fifteen years of pregnancies and births and breastfeeding and babies, that it is OK to move on to the next stage of life. Now my personal goals can enter the frame. This is both thrilling and terrifying. I have never had a career. My goals center around a business based on myself and my creative skills, and I am out of my depth even thinking about the possibilities of these goals becoming realities. Motherhood and more babies have now become the safe choice: choosing to leave those days behind and push myself into new areas is the adventure.
My midwife used to tell me that in her experience, a woman ‘just knows’ when she is done. I’ve yet to have that knowing. As I finish breastfeeding my youngest child, a void opens up in my body. There is space there, in my heart and in my womb, for one more. It is not rational, or sensible, or logical.
But it is insistent, like the constant beating of my heart. It is there.