"If we buy this house, we're not having another baby. You know that, right?"
Deep down, I kind of already knew that. But hearing my husband say it out loud made my stomach drop. When we decided to buy a new home this spring, it solidified our future with a reality I wasn't quite ready to accept: No more babies.
Don't get me wrong, we're exhausted and busy with the two we have, but I'd always reserved a little hope that eventually, we'd have a third to complete our little family. For some reason, I've always felt like it's my destiny to have three kids. Maybe it's because I come from three, maybe it's because my husband also comes from three. Or maybe it's just because I truly enjoy pregnancy and child rearing.
Whatever the reason, it has always meant that outgrown baby clothes get quietly tucked away in our basement and strollers and high chairs are stored, not sold off.
But the reality is, with the cost of our new home, we just can't afford another mat leave and another 3 years of daycare. A third child also means a bigger car, two to three more years of buying diapers and a whole other education fund. So, I've had to quickly accept that we're probably going to stay a family of four.It's got me thinking about how we decide our families are complete. If I'm feeling like the conclusion of my family is for financial reasons, am I really meant to be done? What about people who plan to stop having kids, but end up with the happy surprise of one more? When we're done, do we just know? Should I feel happy about the completion of my family, or is it normal to feel sad and mournful?
One thing that's for sure is that this reality check has made me stop and focus on what we do have and the positives in our family staying just the way it is:
We're out of the baby stage. I feel like we've turned a corner since our youngest turned two. We have so much more freedom now that we're not contending with tiny babies and I've got to admit, it's pretty awesome. Everything is simpler when you're not constantly nursing, fretting over nap schedules or changing diapers.
I finally get to focus on my career. The last 5 years of my life have been a blur of pregnancies, maternity leaves and exhaustion. It feels amazing to be able to really commit myself to my interests and my job. I'm able to make long-term goals for myself and really work towards them. It's also leveled the playing field and forced my husband to take a more active role in events at school and pick-ups and drop-offs. I'm not home on baby duty anymore, we both work busy, full-time jobs, so there's no reason for me to do it all.
We actually get sleep. And it will only get better. Guys, this one is huge! We put both our kids to bed by 8 pm and they don't wake up until the next morning. I actually can't even imagine going back to night feedings and sleep battles. Plus, I hear they'll eventually start sleeping in!?
Life will start to get less expensive. We've been paying $1,200 a month, at minimum, in childcare fees for FOUR YEARS. Once our youngest is out of daycare and diapers, we'll have that back in our pockets every month. This could mean more family vacations, more dates, more babysitters, the possibilities are exciting!
Packing up to move has been bittersweet. We're leaving the home where I brought both of my babies home from the hospital. We're leaving the floors on which they took their first steps, the walls in which they spoke their first words. And truthfully, as I give away the storage boxes full of onesies and sell all the gear, I can't help but feel sad that I'll never feel those little kicks in my belly again or nurse another infant to sleep. All I can do is keep reminding myself that there will be new memories, new firsts and new moments.
It all feels like a bit of a metaphor for motherhood, doesn't it? The end of one phase is just the beginning of another.
I may be done with babies, but I'm far from done this journey with my babies. As they grow, so will I. Maybe this is exactly how our family is meant to be....for now, anyways.