“I want a new brother,” my son announced one morning while we stood in line in a crowded post office.
I chuckled nervously, uncertain about where this conversation might go. “You want to trade your brother in for a new one?” I asked.
“No, I want more brothers,” he said.
People were starting to look at us, and for the millionth time since becoming a parent, I wanted to crawl under a rock.
“Sorry, buddy. That’s not going to happen,” I said.
“But why not?”
“Because we’re full-up on brothers in our house.”
The post office laughed, and I cringed.
My kids ask me about adding another sibling to our family on a regular basis, which annoys and perplexes me, since it’s a difficult question to answer and can be an odd conversation to have with your young children. For a while, my kids were satisfied with the “our family is complete” response. But eventually that answer wasn’t enough, and the follow-up questions became more complicated.
– “Why is our family complete when there are only two kids?”
– “But so-and-so’s family has four kids! Why can’t we have four kids?”
– “Why don’t you want more kids?”
– “Doesn’t what we think count?”
Sometimes I sigh and field their questions, reminding them of all the benefits that come with a family of our size. I remind them that families come in all shapes and sizes, and ours is a size 4. Sometimes I am confident in my responses and can use the questions as teachable moments about family, community, and relationships.
Other times I want to scream, “We aren’t having any more kids, so stfu and stop asking me!”
There are few questions I hate more than my children asking me if my husband and I can give them another sibling. In fact, I’ll take questions like “What’s sex?” and “Is Santa real?” over questions about having another baby any day, because there is no easy answer.
How do I explain to my children that I once wanted four children, but then I realized that I don’t think I would be a good mother to four kids? How do I explain that I love my children with all my heart, but I don’t actually want any more of them? How can I possibly explain that, while I am certain this is the right family size for us, there is always a kernel of doubt? And most importantly, how do I get them to stop pestering me for another sibling because it’s driving me freaking mad?
Honestly, I don’t know the appropriate response here. “Because I said so” is about the closest I can come to anything resembling an answer. There is no logic in the decision; rather, it is a gut feeling that our family is complete and that this is the best size for us. And while parenthood and life has taught me to never say never, I will say “There ain’t no way we’re having more kids” with as much certainty as this inherently uncertain life will allow.
Even though my husband and I are (for the most part) comfortable with our decision to stop at two children, I still feel twinges of guilt, doubt, and second-guessing. Am I making the right decision for my children? Would they be better off with more siblings? Would our family feel more complete?
But asking these questions is a fool’s errand and an exercise in futility. Our family is what it is, and although I may have wanted to have more children once upon a time, a bigger family just wasn’t in the cards for us for a number of reasons.
When my kids ask why we’re not having more kids, I tell them that we are complete, and we are enough — even though I know that won’t satisfy them. Then I remind them that they can have as many brothers as they want when they are the parents because I will take all the grandkids I can get.