I was at the lido with my son and husband the other day when I got my first real pangs of regret for not having another child. My three-year-old, Ed was trying to connect with other children in the kid’s pool who were splashing around with their friends or siblings. I felt sorry for him.
Ed has two older half-brothers 12 and 16 who visit often and are wonderful with him. The oldest even babysits now! But they are never going to be that little ‘playmate’ for him and I’m starting to wonder if I should have created one!
My husband and I decided, rationally, not to try for another baby. We had Ed when I was 40 and pregnancy left me with an underactive thyroid. Having had children before, my husband was more cautious and there was some persuasion from me to having one. Then, last Christmas I felt ‘clucky’ – very. We talked about it for a long time and decided not to have another: health, costs, time and we would still be sat at parents’ evenings when we were 60!
However, at times, I feel like we should have just gone for it. When I meet friends and acquaintances who are on baby number two, I wonder what my second would be like. I see how the older one interacts with the baby and think how lovely Ed would be as an older brother. I’m almost crying writing this. Maybe I’m hormonal.
We had one of Ed’s friends come and visit recently with his mother and a new baby. Ed wanted to hold the baby and kept laughing and smiling at him and making him laugh. I nearly welled up again as I know Ed would be such a lovely big brother as he is so kind and gentle. He said to his friend who was crying yesterday, “You have a friend here.” Whilst pointing at himself. My heart nearly exploded.
But I think the decision is final. This blog is my new baby and Ed is perhaps given the benefit of more time with both of his mum and dad along with seeing his lovely half-brothers regularly. Of course, having two children is more demanding and I should think of the positives and the rational side of not having another. I have friends who only have one and a good friend in the same position of having a little one of her own and two older step-children.
There was a recent feature on ITVs This Morning which asked whether, ‘Is choosing to have an only child wrong?’ They had rolled out the usual opposites: a mum of one who was happy having an only child and a mum-of-four saying that having one child is unfair and is actually harder work. One woman who I follow on Twitter reacted to it, ‘Here we go!’ she said, ‘The old only children are lonely argument!’ Being an only child herself and having one child she concluded, ‘I’ve never been lonely.’ It made me feel better and I realised that I shouldn’t feel sorry for Ed.
I also had a chat with someone recently who has one child but can’t conceive another and at 45, regrets not having children when younger. But I think, whatever our situation, it’s about focusing on what we do have and feeling grateful for that.
A Guest Blog from Lesley Sainty
Lesley Sainty is a former news reporter and current English teacher who is starting up in the fascinating world of mummy blogging. Wife to James and mother to 3-year-old Edward and step-mother to two older boys. Lesley blogs about local visits and other stuff that might be interesting to local mums! You can follow Lesley on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. You can also visit her blog.