Closing Shop: Why I’m Done Having Kids
As a personal decision that many parents grapple with, how do you know when enough is enough? A mom of three shares her story…
I would also take jabs like, “It’s too bad he isn’t growing up with a brother or sister.”
Because sure, siblings are a gift from the heavens. But I was a single mom, and it was just the most unusual thing to say to someone considering it takes two to tango— oh, and childbirth is quite possibly the hardest thing a woman will ever have to do.
To tell you the truth, I never really saw motherhood as something that was in the cards for me. But it happened when I was very young, and I was good with one kid. I didn’t have the typical dreams of finding a husband, settling down, and having 3.5 mini-me’s. Nope, that wasn’t for me, and I wouldn’t budge.
Somewhere down the line, I met someone who changed my mind completely. We wanted to have children together, and we decided that we’d follow up the first one with a sibling as soon as possible— sold on the idea that having an instant best friend was the way to go, just as we had when we were growing up with our brothers and sisters. I was ready for more kids. The more the merrier, right?
Well, five years later, after having my two incredible daughters in my 30’s, it’s safe to assume that I’m closing up shop. I am done with procreating, and I’m here to tell you why.
This momma is exhausted
Ask any parent how they’re doing and more often than not you will hear them say something along the lines of, “I’m so tired.” It’s true— parenting is one hell of a responsibility, one with underlying issues that many don’t even talk about. Aside from the sleep deprivation, the never-ending to-do lists, and the constant care for our kids, we are still individuals navigating this parenting spectrum as we go.
We have to self-monitor, adjust our behavior, cater to different personalities, and to put it simply— just get things done. All of the things. Regardless of whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or working from home, that to-do list still haunts you in your sleep. Add that to the fact that we’re supposed to look like we’re having a great time doing it all… well, it gets old. Fast.
Money doesn’t grow on trees
In my case, I have two daughters who are 21 months apart. To maintain peace, gifts are usually doubled, outfits have to match, and heaven forbid one has a better toy than the other. And then there’s the dreaded decision of sending them out to learn and socialize— by paying some hefty fees.
If I do the math right, we’ll be paying double the tuition for at least 15 years and some change. That doesn’t include extracurricular activities, materials to support a hobby, lessons in whatever else they’ll want to try, essentials for living, and snacks. So many snacks.
Our teenager eats an amount good for two full-grown men, and his hobbies aren’t cheap either. This tech generation has some of the most expensive “toys” I’ve ever seen, and educational materials are on another level! Were Legos always that expensive??
I don’t even want to think about the cost of going on vacation as a party of five, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, Lazada will have to be the (affordable) gift that keeps on giving.
I’m already outnumbered
A lot like being cornered in a cave by wild monkeys— that’s how I describe my time with two very hyperactive toddlers. When one is drawing on my wall with a permanent marker, the other will attempt to make hieroglyphs using chocolate on our newly shampooed couch. They also enjoy running in opposite directions when they get in trouble, and their chorus of screams is the stuff of nightmares. Which child do you console first? (The answer is: your favorite. Just kidding, you totally have to play fair.)
On most days, it feels like I’m being pulled into multiple directions. It’s tough to gain control of my personal world when so much of it has been consumed by the needs of the kids. Sharing my time, space, and energy day-in and day-out can certainly take a toll— which is why so many parents stress the importance of time management. But honestly, there’s only so much we can do.
I always feel sorry for the teenager when he comes in to ask a question in the middle of double-meltdowns. I do, however, appreciate that he’s learned to back away— slowly.
See reason #1.
Pregnancy & Birthing is no walk in the park
When it comes to pregnancy, a lot of women ride it out like the miracle it truly is. Their skin glows, the hair shines, and they dress that cute bump with the prettiest maternity dresses. That wasn’t me.
My last two pregnancies were extremely sensitive, so I really wasn’t allowed to do much. I had to regularly monitor certain complications, I gained an excessive amount of weight each time, and the cherry on top were the excruciating labours that lasted 53 and 32 hours respectively. Have I mentioned the failed epidurals? Yes, both times— which are two separate horror stories for another day.
So, when someone asks me about being pregnant again, it’s without hesitation that I give that a solid, “Hard pass.” That’s the trauma talking, and I have been through enough.
My mental capacity is on overload
Between taking care of my family, keeping house, making time for work, and finding some semblance of peace so I don’t lose my mind, saying I have my plate full is somewhat of an understatement. Guys, I am depleted. I can barely squeeze in a fitness regimen, let alone dive into a hobby.
Most nights I find myself indulging in mindless entertainment as a form of revenge bedtime procrastination. For a few hours a night, when the whole house is asleep, I bring out hidden snacks and counterintuitively participate in the consumption of garbage media. Why? Because my brain needs to decompress from managing an entire household and everyone in it.
Bless the soul who invented wine.
The world is going haywire
And lastly, since I’ve already laid all my cards on the table, it just feels like the world is getting scarier by the day. You know how they say that having children is like forever having your heart walking around outside of your body? It’s true. Three human beings is enough for me to worry about, and while these could very well be hypothetical fears, it’s enough to deter me from adding to our current population.
The choice is ultimately yours
Deciding on the number of kids you want to have is a very personal and serious matter. To be able to be decent and capable parents, we need to consider our mental, physical, emotional, and financial threshold. That can be anywhere between one to several kids, or no children at all. That’s completely up to you.
I’m more than happy with having three kids. I prefer to give them all the attention and support they need as opposed to spreading myself too thin because we decide to add another child to our roster. While other parents might be able to handle more than that with ease, it’s just not the case for me.
Parents will get together and air their grievances about what a pain their children can be, but that’s just part of the parenting gig. To be honest, in spite of these crazy times, this is the most content I’ve ever been in my life. I’m not about to rain on my own parade by taking on another baby (as wonderful as they all are).
I’ve paid my dues. So thanks, but no thanks.