TO 3 OR NOT TO 3?

Another one of my friends announced on the weekend that they were expecting baby number 3.

There is a third wave of pregnancies amongst my peers and it got us thinking. Should we go for it?

I wish the decision was that simple.

I asked a friend shortly after his 3rd was born.

“So are you glad you did it?”

As his head jerked up from another power nap, he looked at me and sighed……

“mate……don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. Stay away from your wife.”

His head slumped back down, his chin hit his chest. He was gone.

I asked the same question to that same friend 8 months later. His reply;

“mate……the best thing I ever did.”

There is still a lot to consider; can we afford it, is the house big enough, what sacrifices would we need to make, how will it affect the dynamics of our family?

There will be 3 mouths to feed, 3 bodies to clothe, 3 sets of school fees. Do we want to go through the sleepless nights again, the nappy changing, the toilet training, the early mornings, the tears and tantrums? I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

2 kids work well. The child-parent ratio is perfect. When one is out, we spend time with the other. Occasionally we get the odd afternoon to ourselves. Why rock the boat? Let’s enjoy what we have. Why stretch ourselves?

I know children don’t care about money. They don’t care what school they go to, where they go on holiday, the size of the house or car. If they feel secure, loved and confident then they are happy. It’s the parents that have to make the adjustment.

When my kids are old enough to support themselves, I will be 55-60 years old. Hopefully I will be fit and able to travel the world, take my family on holiday if I want to and enjoy a life of retirement. If we consider having another one, I will be 65-70. I don’t want to be paying school fees, or uni fees or worrying about paying for a wedding at 70 years old. I feel a bit selfish, but I think I have a right to be. I will have done my ‘time’. I will have done the best I could and at 60 it’s time to start thinking about chilling out. But if I’m around for another 30 years or so then that is a lot of chilling? What I am going to do for 30 years? Perhaps a third or fourth will keep me young and focused.

Also, with only 2 kids, I worry about something terrible happening to one of them and leaving the other alone. A morbid question but one that as an immigrant I need to give some thought.

I am the eldest of 4. I left my immediate family behind when I emigrated to Australia from Scotland 10 years ago. I grew up with lots of cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents on both sides. I remember large family gatherings, lots of quality banter around the table, jokes, good humoured ribbing and happy times. We hung out regularly. I felt accountable not only to my parents but to the extended family. If I did something wrong I had to deal with the consequences of them knowing. It helped ground me and to an extent mould me. I often relate back to stories that happened during that time. When I meet up with cousins we reminisce about old times. When I look at old photos they evoke a lot of family memories. My children will not have that same family dynamic. It is a concern.

Maybe the least I can do is leave them with what I had, for their own families. Having more children will ensure they have others around when we are no longer here. Maybe my legacy to my children is giving them their siblings. Is that a good enough reason to have another?

I’ve never been one for resting on my laurels and I am always up for a challenge. Much to my wife’s chagrin I am often coming up with different ideas and things to try. Maybe I want another one because I need another challenge. Is that a good enough reason?

Whilst there is no getting away from the fact that it is hard, hard work, I would imagine the joy you get from raising a 3rd child is as rewarding as the first 2. With the benefit of hindsight it might just be a bit easier than the first two. The 2 boys would be able to help and they would love it.

Then I start thinking about the first two; I remember the first smile, the first laugh, the first words, the first steps. I remember the look in their eyes as I fed them their bottle, the grip of their little fingers holding my little finger, the first drop off at kinder, the tears as I said goodbye and the smiles at pickup time. I remember how proud they were trying on their school uniform and how independent they felt on their first day of school. I remember the day they lost their first tooth, hit their first 6, scored their first goal. I smile when I recall my reassurance that there are infact no monsters under the bed and that the tooth fairy will definitely turn up. How scared we were when they were sick.  How nervous they were when the training wheels came off and how proud they were when they finally rode down the street.

I forget to remember these moments.

We have asked the boys if they would like a brother or sister. They both said they did not have a preference. I asked them if they knew how a baby gets into mum’s tummy. “With seeds, dad” they said like I was stupid, “through the belly button”.

I love the idea of 20-30 years from now sitting around a dinner table with our kids and grandkids. On the very odd occasion that all my family are in one place I can see how proud my parents are and how much joy they get from having all their kids and grandkids together. I would like that.

Who knows what will happen or what our path is going to be. For now I’m happy daydreaming about what it would be like with 3 kids playing around me on the beach or wrestling on the bed. I have a smile on my face and I am loving it. But then I’m back in the room with a jolt, my eyes wide open.

“Oh sh*t, what if it’s twins!@!”

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