When we were first married, my husband and I talked about “the big stuff.” We discussed religion and politics; we respect
cted the differences in our opinions. We both wanted to raise children in New York City and remain united against the suburbs. With no red flags in sight, we began our union with confidence.
Yet here we are, after eight years of marriage and two kids, going to war over whether or not to have more children. My husband is content with the two we have now, while I want two more. Splitting the difference at three sounds ridiculous. We are talking about human beings, not cupcakes.
Should we have another? The question lingers like a time bomb with a long fuse, going unaddressed for months at a time. Then hearing a family member’s pregnancy announcement, visiting with a friend’s newborn, or packing outgrown clothes into storage detonates the controversy all over again.
“Why not?” I beg.
He says it is about the time we don’t have for each other now. I tell him that will pass. Our youngest is almost 2 and very independent. She could spend an hour with reams of paper and a pen. She loves to “read” quietly. My husband sees the light at the end of the tunnel, whereas I see the opportunity to take on another.
“One year,” I coax him. “Everything gets better after the first year with a new baby.”
It’s not quite true, though. Our son is nearly 4 and demands a lot of my attention. Ok, he’s a mama’s boy. He always wants me to play with him or tell him stories. No one else will do. I remind my husband that soon he will prefer his friends to me.
“Why add to the burden when we are happy with the family we have now?” he responds.
There is nothing about having more children that I don’t want. I long to be pregnant again. The experience of giving birth thrills me. I ache to provide nourishment through nursing and to witness wobbly first steps. From hearing the adorably poor grammar of toddlers to envisioning huge Thanksgiving dinners when the kids are home from college with friends, my dreams of having a big family are vivid and resolute. I will not give up.
The more we argue, the deeper the issues get. Raised in part by my immigrant Puerto Rican grandmother and great-grandmother, I grew up believing character is developed through adversity. Any struggle I endured was celebrated as a chance to rise above or to build resiliency. I welcome the same for our children, but my husband disagrees. He wants to give them every opportunity in the world to succeed, including the best schools, the best coaches, the best tutors.
This is an expensive prospect that becomes more challenging with more children.
“Maybe our values in raising children are too far apart,” I suggest…
Read More: parenting.blogs.nytimes.com