To Have a Child – or Not

My husband and I are both the eldest children in our respective families, our little Bean being the first grandchild. This means that we often end up in discussions with our younger siblings about whether they should start a family or not and if yes, when they should do this. I am so in love my little Bean that I am of course of the opinion that we should all have at least 4 children but my husband and sister tend to disagree. I have therefore decided to set up a pros and cons list so that we can settle this argument once and for all.

Children are hard work

Now, this is very true. Taking care of yourself and your family can be tiring and at the end of the day you fall down into the couch with a glass of red wine in your hand, and you think, ‘what a day’. It is hard work doing everything for a little person who cannot do anything himself. But it is so rewarding seeing him try (and succeed) to do these things independently, knowing that all your hard work is helping a person grow. It is so rewarding when your little Bean takes his first steps or when he stops playing to walk over to you, thumb in mouth, for a cuddle – just because he needs to refuel some ‘mom’.

Someone’s career will have to take a back seat

This is something I never really thought about too much before I had Bean. Of course I realised that I would have to be home in time for bath time and bed time but I was under the impression that I would simply carry on working, building on my career, as normal. I was, of course, wrong. Being home in time for bath time and bed time meant that I could not work the extra hours I used to. Having a sick baby at home meant that I would have to stay home with him and take a day’s leave. Dropping a baby off at crèche meant that I would sometimes go into the office late and having a husband who is a workaholic meant that there was a chance that there would be no one to take care of Bean if I had to travel for work. A baby takes up time and someone’s (whether it’s mom’s or dad’s) career simply has to take a step back. In our case, I decided to give up a traditional corporate career and become a work from home mom, freelancing, instead. This does not mean that I gave up my career – I simply adjusted it to start something new. Something which suits my lifestyle better.

Your marriage will suffer

Children add a lot of pressure to a relationship. The lack of sleep, the added financial pressures and the changed social life can be difficult to navigate and being tired and stressed generally brings out the worst in people. Being tired and stressed after a long day with a screaming, difficult child, can in fact easily tear a relationship apart. There are however days filled with moments when your child masters a new skill or does something cute and you and your spouse look at each other with such love and pride and you realise how deeply connected you are as a family.

The truth is that your relationship will change. It will strengthen and deepen and mould into something far greater than it was before. A child makes you a family, it creates a bond between husband and wife which, if cared for, is very difficult to break.

Having children will change your life and this means that you will need to adapt, you will need to adjust to this new role of mother and father and family of three or more. It does not however mean that you have to give up your life, it does not mean that you have to lose your sense of self, or your spark as a couple. I am still me, a more responsible mom version of me, yes, but I am still here. My husband and I are still here and although we have our ups and downs like everyone else, we are happy.

I cannot imagine how different our lives would be if we had decided not to have a child, how empty the world would seem without this new life. Bean is not just my son, he is my little companion.

Have a child, or two or three, it is the most beautiful and inexplicably wondrous thing.

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