Mar 182006

Since my son has reached the toddler years, there have been people asking me this question. Complete strangers have been asking me about my family planning. One woman even promised my son he’d have a sibling soon. „Sure your parents will give you a little brother or sister.“ And then they keep eyeing my belly. What to say?

„Sorry, I’m only overweight.“


„You know, after the first birth I had to have a hysterctomy, but now I’m in psycho-therapy.“

„That’s none of your business.“

My favorite answer is: „This is a very intimate question. And children are not plannable.“

When I was young, I thought people having unwanted children are too stupid to use birth-control. Well, I was totally sure, nothing could happen – a really safe day. Then I had this stomach flu for weeks. After two months I finally tried a pregnancy test. – It was positive. So I stay humbled.

I even know families with four not-really-planned kids. I also know people trying everything to become a child and then failing.

So every time someone asks me about „the second child“, I get really angry. About them being nosy and about the assumption that you’re only complete if you’re having two children. Get another one to complete the set.

Only rarely do I tell the truth, because it’s quite complicated:
I desperately wanted two children. I just wanted to wait about two years. But my husband doesn’t want another one! His reasons against a second child are quite valid. („Then we’ll have to quit doing music.“ „I’m too old, this will kill me.“) My reasons for a second child are quite valid. („I don’t like single children.“ „Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tiny baby again?“) And most of my reasons are completely hormone-driven. And most of his are completely mind-driven.

What to do? We deemed this to be an issue where a veto counts and so we just changed our method of birth-control so I gained a four-percent chance of getting pregnant.

At the beginning of this year I my period was late, and instead of being happy about it, I was shocked. The image in my head of a sweet, sleeping baby was suddenly replaced with pictures from real life, where I try to sleep while the baby in my arms is crying his heart out. (This has really happened to me.) So, why do I want a second child?

1. As everyone knows, a child needs siblings to learn social skills.
2. The second time I’ll do everything right and become a perfect mother with a perfect child.
3. This time I’ll have a perfect natural childbirth experience.
4. Etc.

Quite a humbling list. Of course single children are not anti-social (Are you saying something about my son?), and in real life I’ll never be perfect, not even with my tenth child. And I can’t control everything.

So I’m counting my blessings. I’m happy that the tension concerning this issue has gone. I’ll take it however it’ll turn out. One child, two children – fine with me.

(But I’m still keeping the baby stuff in the attic. Just in case.)

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