With three amazingly gorgeous children, I get asked a lot by friends how did we know we were finished having kids.
My answer’s changed over time. Just after the birth of our third child I would coo: “Oh I don’t I know, we just knew we wanted to have three children and we’ve been so very lucky.”
One year down the track and I’d explain: “My body couldn’t take another one. My hair is thinner, my tummy ravaged and I feel really old. I just know my body couldn’t cope with growing another person.”
Now, two years on from the birth of our third child and this is how I know we are done. When people tell me they are having a baby I immediately feel much heartfelt joy for them, but instead of getting a little flutter in my belly and being absorbed with ideals of romanticism – smiling babies, tiny hands, squishy fingers, overwhelming joy – I instead wince a little. No-one can see me, but I cringe and then do a secret happy dance that it is not us having another child.
When people ask me now I say: “Oh we are never going to have another child or I may have to be institutionalised. I could not do it.”
This is not where you attack me for being ungrateful or for whinging, this is just how I am feeling right now. With a 5yo, 4yo and a 2yo in the house parenting never lets up. There are no wistful days playing endlessly and snuggling on the couch for naps together. There are snippets and moments of pure indulgence and every day my children fill my heart with love. But mostly, I am tired. Exhausted actually. We are outnumbered, overwhelmed and ground down
Friends with three or more children have told us this stage will pass. Parenting will still be challenging, but this intensive hands-on, never sleeping, constant tantruming, always someone sick stage will soon get easier.
Today my husband is on an all-day photo shoot. We’ve both had about three hours sleep, tag teaming it while Miss 5 vomited throughout the night. Miss 4 awoke with a fever and joined us in the early hours of the morning and Miss 2 woke up at 5.30am in full, 2yo, demanding, never-ending flight.
I am very grateful. I adore my children. It’s just this stage is weighing me down. The past couple of years have been one long journey of sleeplessness.
So, if you want to know how to know when you’re done. This is it.
Are you done?