I have been meaning to write this post for ages, but things always got in the way, so I have taken a week off work to catch up on life, but I think I need to get it out of my system first, before all the things on my to-do list get in the way. I am a mother of a single baby, and this is where it ends. How do I feel about it?
I have met my husband when his daughter was 11. She is an amazing young woman now, independently carving her path in the world. I cannot take the credit for her achievements and I don’t think anyone can frankly. She has done a lot on her own. She is not living with us anymore.
We had all that free time, and having babies is what people do when they get married, so we joined the circus.
Everyone tells you how hard it is. how hard it’s going to be on you, your relationship, your time, work, finances. But all this means nothing to a young woman, because we need to burn our fingers ourselves to truly understand the extend of this “hardship”.
“Aww I feel for you” would be the thing I should say, when people were telling me how tired they are as parents. What I really thought was “oh get a grip Susan. It’s only a child. How hard can it be, don’t be pathetic. People need to stop exaggerating.”
Then I had a child of my own.
Fast forward to today, our super smart and kind offspring is almost 5. She is not getting a younger brother or a sister. This is a conscious decision we made for various of reasons:
– Kids are expensive. With spiralling childcare and education costs, the average cost of raising a child to the age of 21 in the UK is £231,843. Now you may argue that with siblings, the cost will be lower because they can pass on clothes, toys etc, but we are still talking around £200,000 per additional child. With 5 kids leaving home, you would have burned through around £1 million GBP. You want to send them to private school? Make it double.
– We enjoy our jobs. After a plethora of career changes, we both settled on professions that make us happy. We love growing the businesses we both run, and more children would mean less time committed to those.
– We love travelling. I know you can travel with a large family and many of our friends do, but it’s barely a holiday with one child, never mind a team of youngsters who all run around wet pool, giving me palpitations and images of them sliding down the hard surface with their young teeth. Then when I get over this, I freak out about the numbers of kids getting kidnapped on holidays. Everyone is different. I see the worst outcome in everything child related and panic before panic is required.
– I would lie if I said we decided that with the rapidly increasing world population, we wanted to save the planet from being too cramped with more trash creating humans. I will not lie though when I say the fact we are said to run out of water by 2050 does freak me out. I will be on my way out, but my kids would be just planning on having their own children. That’s what we are leaving behind. “Here, I’m off but that’s the world we are leaving behind” resembling a scene from Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” movie.
– Our time is non negotiable. Was non negotiable. Children require a lot of this time, that used to be filled with pondering and book reading, going out and meeting people, exchanging non baby related ideas. Each child is an individual and each child requires their own time with you. The more children, the less time for your own thoughts in a day.
All this is a standard mumbo jumbo you will hear from anyone with no kids usually. Then those people reproduce and become “us”. They respect their individual values and their place in the world but now they are sharing it with a tiny human. They realise it’s a god damn hard adventure and decide to stop reproducing. What follows is a chaotic few years of readjustment. We still want to excel at what we do and since bringing up kids is now also what we do, we want to nail it too.
Our head goes into an overdrive. We book all extra curricular clubs, past times, classes, we want to build a village around them so that they don’t feel lonely. We agree to every birthday party and a play date to make them feel entertained. We get asked “mommy will you play with me” around 193939 times a day, and after all the plate spinning, we really don’t have the energy to do more of it, but we do because we are feeling guilty.
We are now in a place where we still need to parent, but are also trying to fill the sibling hole, and be everything to everyone.
So what’s the point of this post? Stop the madness. We cannot be everything to everyone all the time without having that time for us first. If you don’t keep growing “you” as a person and putting fuel in, there will be nothing to give and what we do give will never be the high quality time and energy our children deserve. I cannot express how short this life we are living is. We cannot go full steam ahead all the time. When you take time for yourself, never consider it a wasted time. It’s the time you need to refuel for everyone around you x