Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Listicles: The boat that has sailed

Last week I so enjoyed making my list of why I don’t do list posts, that I decided this week it would be a hoot to participate in Stasha’s Monday Listicles thingie. But if I was looking for a lighthearted post?  Um, wow, did I pick the wrong week to start.

Because for me? This week's list is SO not light and fun, but rather fraught with sadness and regrets and tension and worry about all that is not quite right with my family.

The list: 10 reasons why you do or do not want more children!

I struggle often with the feeling that I really should have had more kids. But that boat has sailed.

So I am splitting this list. Some reasons I wish we could have had more kids and some reasons we are definitively not having them. (And yeah I can never do things the simple way, have to put my own twist on them. My contrarian nature rearing its head again.)

First, the reasons we are not having more kids:

1. We are too old. Specifically ME. (Biology’s a bitch and really not fair - guys can still have kids at 70. Not that they SHOULD, but they CAN.) I am 51. Deep in peri-menopause. My period visits occasionally, but mostly just to wave goodbye and thumb its nose at me.  

2. We are too old. It’s not just the biology. We are even too old to adopt. Chasing after a toddler right now? Would probably do me in. And my husband is yet 7 years older than I. Too, too old.

3. Autism. Once you have one the chances of having another increase greatly. Also with parental age. And while having had another typical child would have likely been a boon to the family, another autistic one might well have torn us apart. (Note to my friends with more than one autistic kid: I know you have wonderful families and love all your kids immeasurably. I also know it's tough. I'm just talking about my hopes/fears here.)

4. Money, money, money. We live in a small apartment, barely enough room for the four of us, absolutely not enough room to add another in. About the time I was getting ready to go back to work, we realized Jake was on a different path, and I abandoned my career to become a full time Autism Mom. Money? Is really tight around here.

5. Not just money, but also temperament. While I really would have had 1 or 2 more kids if I could have, my husband, while he loves our sons to pieces? Is just not a kid person. Have a couple of extra kids over on a play-date and his left eye starts twitching. In hell? His job would be kindergarten teacher.

6. We are too old. (Just in case you thought I might be wavering on that one.)

And now, from the department of sad regrets department, why I wish I could have had more kids:

7. I love kids, love being a mom. When the boys were little and they were climbing all over me on the floor I would be laughing away, and my husband would joke that I really had to loosen up and learn to enjoy motherhood more.

8. Amortizing my expertise. I had no idea what I was doing when I had kids & had to figure it all out under the pressure of twins. Just as I would become really good at whatever stage in their development the boys were at, they would move on to the next. If I'd had more kids I could have had some of that "more relaxed because it's old hat the 2nd (3rd, 4th) time around" parenting all my friends with lots of kids talk about.

9. Our family dynamic, with the autism thing? Could really use more kids. Jake really needs a younger sibling to love him unconditionally, look up to him. His dear friends are all 3 and 4 year-olds right now. He loves babies. It would have been great if he'd had one of his own.

10. Ethan could really use a typical brother or sister. Another sibling who is NOT his autistic twin. Someone to play with. And someone to share the burden of caring for his brother when my husband and I are gone, if Jake should still need that.


So, in an ideal world I would have started younger and had more than 2. Then again, in that world I would also be about 40 pounds lighter, have listened to my mother & become a doctor, and bought Apple stock when it was $5 a share.

But we don’t live in that world, we live in this one, and this is the family I have. And I do so love my boys and our family, just as it is.

So no, we’re not having more kids.

Unless we literally win the lottery, and then with $32 million or so in our pockets?  I’d think about adopting a baby girl or two. (Don't worry honey, highly unlikely. HIGHLY unlikely.)

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