“Enough! …Enough, Holden!” I said in a louder voice than I should have, with a tone sharper than it probably should have been.
“You are enough…” my voice trailed off a bit and I looked down at him. His red puffy cheeks stained with tears of another tantrum and the snot of the never-ending winter crud. And it hit me.
Was Holden, my strong willed, strong tempered, guns always a ‘blazin’, push everything to the limits, snuggle every night 20 month old really enough? Was the combination of him and his always questioning, analytical, soft and sensitive brother, the maximum capacity recommendation for our household?
Was I done having children? Were all of my parts done doing their job? Was my life now at a point where we were ready to move on to the next phase?
Am I done having children?
It’s not like this is the first time I have let myself sit on this question. This has been on my mind since I brought Holden home from the hospital. Back then, I was convinced we would have one more. (To be fair, I should add for a good year or so I thought my oldest was going to be an only child… but that’s another story.) My family was meant to have 3 children. There were 3 in my family growing up, my mom came from a family of 3, both of her parents came from families with 3 kids… that’s just the way I thought it was supposed to be for me. No issues with other families who have more, or fewer kids, but 3 was my number or so I thought.
So how do you know when you’re done having kids? I’ve read a ton of articles and blog posts from moms just like me telling me that “you just know.” Well, if “just knowing” feels sad and a little depressed, then maybe I’m there. It feels so empty and a little lonely to think that I’ve felt my last baby kick flutters, snuggled my last newborn, and held tiny chubby hands as they’ve taken their first steps for the last time. No more baby naps on the couch? No more listening as you learn to say “Mama”? I’m honestly tearing up as I’m writing this right now.
I should have cherished that time more. I should have held onto those moments a little tighter. Because they could be done.
Then I think about the time ahead though. That’s when I start to think I might “just know.” We can go to the zoo or the museum or the park and all have fun. We all eat the same food. Having struggled for a long time with hormone related anxiety, my moods are more stable now than they’ve been since I was a teenager. I’m healthier and my body is more fit that it’s been since long before my first sweet baby. I’m working hard to establish a new career path. All of these are things I would all but give up if I ever decided to go for another baby. My husband is 39 and feels happy and complete with our family of 4. His feelings are pretty important on all of this too.
So, how do you know when you’re done having kids? Just like everyone else says… you just know. It doesn’t have to feel completely happy. It is the end of a stage. It does mean you are getting older…but it also means it is the beginning of so many other new things. It’s a decision that makes your family feel happy and complete. There is no magic number, no magic formula. You weigh the pros and cons for YOU and then, you just know.
Am I done having children? I think so… but I still have baby clothes in the attic, just in case.