The Baby of the Family

I am done having kids.

There. I said it. Commence weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I am one of five children. My husband is an only child. We agreed before we ever got married that we wanted “at least two” kids. Any more was up for debate. He was done after Monkey #2. I was the holdout. I wanted my chance at a girl. But also, at 29 years old, I just wasn’t ready to say it yet. So one October night, we made the agreement that if we weren’t pregnant or planning to be so by the following July, we were done. Fast forward to Christmas break, and we found out the number would be three. Needless to say, we were done then.

Our life is totally crazy with three boys 5 and under (and yes, we know what causes that, thank you store clerk, neighbor, or random stranger who thinks it’s funny to make that comment). And there are days that I really do wonder if I (or my kids) will survive until their adulthood. I refuse to count how many loads of laundry I do each week. Or think about the fact that my life revolves around planning the next meal or naptime. My house is a constant whirlwind, and that’s not likely to end soon.

All three

But there are times.

Knowing that Monkey #3 is the last one just does something to my emotions. I sit and watch him sometimes, playing with a toy or “reading” a book. I watch the way his little fingers move to grasp things, or catch the gleam in his eyes as he sways to the rhythm of his favorite musical toy. I kiss his chubby little feet sticking out from under his blanket while he’s napping. I love watching kids this age learn new things. It’s always been my favorite stage. But I almost hate every milestone that he reaches, knowing that he’s that much farther from baby-hood, and closer to not needing me as much. I thank God often that he is a cuddly Mama’s boy.

Ryan

**Still learning how to say “no” to this face**

There is something that I’m learning about motherhood these days. Each stage is amazing, it’s true. There are blessings and there are trials with every year. But “having children” is such a large part of who we are as women, and comes with so many emotions. Those who have struggled with infertility can tell you about the deep wounds and feelings of failure when your own body works against you (as a side note, KMB contributor Kristen has been doing a series on this on her personal blog: http://www.whenathome.com/). Then there are amazing moments in pregnancy and childbirth, where a woman can feel amazing and fierce, like this is what she was made to do! After such emotional experiences, I think it’s hard to know where your part is, especially between PB&J sandwiches and potty training! Our identity can be so tied up in child-making, that it can be a hard transition to solely child-raising.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy not being needed as much these days. I enjoy the fact that I am *this* close to being done with diapers. I love that I can let other people help feed them. Daddy occasionally takes them for a boys’ day, and gives me some quiet time. I am enjoying #3 learning to say Mommy just this week (saying it 50 times in an hour is another story). That #1 can read now, and loves to do it. And that #2 wants to say night time prayers on his own. Watching them grow, and seeing the people they are becoming is downright amazing.

And although I swore to myself that I wouldn’t treat my youngest like the typical baby of the family, I’m starting to realize that it’s just not possible. Between this, and the fact that he’s my last grasp on my introduction to motherhood, I know he will always be just a tad different to me. And I’m okay with that.

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10 Responses to The Baby of the Family

  1. Katie March 24, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    So true. We are finished having kids and sometimes it makes me so sad!

    • Janie March 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      Right after the most frustrating moments, even! Gah!

  2. andrea March 24, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    All so true! It is never easy to know you are ‘done’. I went into babies r us this weekend and the smell made me sad – all the new baby stuff!

    • Janie March 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

      OMG, the baby smell! I swear that’s created solely to make women want to reproduce!

      And yeah, several friends have had babies after we decided we were done, and it’s been TORTURE shopping for gifts! And fun at the same time. See, there go those emotions again!

  3. Bonnie Jones March 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    I thought I left a comment, maybe I forgot to hit submit. Mama brain for sure. Anyway, excellent blog post Janie. For me, I have truly come to realize that the majority of us have that womb ache and we always will. It’s biological. It doesn’t make logical sense. It seems that “done feeling” never connects with body and mind. There are only a few women I know that haven’t had that feeling.

    My kids growing…It is something I dread and I am excited about all at the same time. Although I am done and happily so, I still look at my 1.5 year old and count her age in months and I am sad to think about her hitting milestones because that means no more milestones to reach for. I remind myself often to stop and think about the definition of family, and that life doesn’t end when your children grow. I hope I am the kind of parent that grows with them.

    Bonnie Jones

    • Janie March 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Not cool, you made me cry!

      But very well said. My own mother has told me that she still wishes she could’ve had more, and she had FIVE!

  4. christie elkins March 26, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    This is SO beautifully written! I loved how you said “Our identity can be so tied up in child-making, that it can be a hard transition to solely child-raising”. So so good. And I will openly admit that I “baby” Titus, our 3rd and youngest child!

    • Janie March 26, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      It’s funny the things you realize when you take a moment to really dive into WHY you feel a certain way. I am learning that while I can’t necessarily give in completely to my feelings, exploring why I’m feeling a certain way can really show me a lot about a situation, and myself!

  5. Heather April 11, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I got that same comment when we were pregnant with the 3rd. I was also referred to as a baby-factory. Another person said “Every time I see you, you’re pregnant!” Because he saw me once every five years. Like our family decisions are the world’s business!

    There’s a wistfulness with raising the last one. Sometimes we feel like he’s never going to grow up, other times we feel like he’s growing up too fast.

    • Janie April 11, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Ohemgee, the number of people that thought our “family planning” is/was open for discussion! And now that #3 is almost two, they’re constantly asking if we’re having more, as in, “Time for another!” As if I’m some sort of stock animal!

      But yes, I fight with myself many days being so glad to be out of the truly needy stages, but yet wishing he could just stay a chubby, cuddly thing forever!

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