Five's a Crowd.

by Risa Green


I’ve been “cleaning out” our playroom for the last four years. Every six months or so, I get sick of the mess, I grab a fistful of trash bags, and I start tossing stuff. Games with missing pieces, half-finished art projects, Bionicles with severed limbs – it all gets sent to the big playroom in the sky. However, even though my children have long (long) outgrown their preschool toys, I’ve never had the heart to give away the plastic kitchen and its drawers full of plastic food and cutlery. I can’t get rid of the baby dolls and their tiny, Peg Perego stroller. I can’t bring myself to donate the Lakeshore games, or the bin filled with Thomas the Train pieces or even the giant, Thomas the Train train table that takes up almost half of our playroom floor space. I hang on to these things not because I’m sentimental about them, but because somewhere, way, way, back in the recesses of my brain, lies the thought that I might, one day, regret throwing away all of this exorbitantly expensive crap, because one day, I might have another baby who will use it.


In addition to “cleaning” our playroom for the last four years, my husband and I have also simultaneously been playing the “maybe we should have another one” game. We both come from families of two kids, and when we got married, we both assumed we’d have two kids. The only circumstance in which we could foresee having a third was if we had two boys or two girls. So when we ended up with one of each, it was kind of the end of the conversation. That is, it was the end of the conversation, until my kids started growing up so damn fast.


Somewhere around the time that my son turned three, I suddenly found myself mourning every milestone he reached as the last time that I would experience it. The last time I would ever go to toddler class. The last third birthday party I would ever throw. The last last day of preschool. The last first day of kindergarten. It got to be pathetic. So every six months, my husband would come home from work and I would announce that I wanted to have a baby. Sort of.


We spent hours discussing it. The pros and cons of can we afford it, do we have the time, do we have the space, do we have the patience, do we have the energy? We talked about whether it was really a baby that I wanted, or if I just wanted our existing kids to stop getting older. We closed our eyes and imagined going back to diapers and breast feeding and naptimes, going back to cutting food into miniscule little pieces and not turning our backs for a second and re-babyproofing the house. We tried to picture waking up at 5:30 in the morning with a baby while our older kids slept until 9:00. But then we also talked about how nice it would be to have another kid in the house when the older two went off to college. How fun it would be to see what other personality we might produce. How amazing it would be to have six grandchildren instead of four, or nine instead of six. At the end of every single one of these discussions, we decided to revisit it in another three months.


Wonderful post - thank you! My husband and I keep revisiting having a second - our son is 4 years old... I love our little family and how we are growing with him every day. I feel fulfilled as a mother. As you might imagine, however, sitting with this issue hanging over us (and occasionally between us) is very different with one child rather than two... Someone told me recently that the decision to have a child (or another) is ultimately an emotional one - and you can rationally try to talk yourself into it or out of it, but the emotional side reigns... Periodically, I've tried to talk myself into it - as have other people - but I'm trusting my emotions even though it is sometimes difficult... (The fact that we sold/gave away most of the baby stuff was a little like having a bandage ripped off too quickly but I don't miss the bulky stroller and other paraphernalia filling up the basement!)


I think you know deep down whether you are "done" or not. You can look at it from a logical standpoint ... but I truly think that deep down you know. We tried to talk ourselves out of a third, but it just felt silly and somehow like trying to convince ourselves that the world is flat. Some things are just meant to be and some decisions are made long before they cross your mind!