How do you know if you are done? Having children, that is?
Is there a switch inside your brain that turns off once you have had your allocated amount of children, that lets you know that you are done? That there will never be another pregnancy announcement or the sound of pitter patter of little footsteps coming down your hall once again?
Or is it the moment when you feel that there are more children in the family then adults? Or are you a Mama that always knew that you would have a certain number of children and now that you have had that allocation, you are done? Or is it when you have the strong urge to give away all your little onesies and pass the bassinet onto a friend or recoil when you see a pregnant tummy or newborn? Or is it just the point when you have reached utter exhaustion?
I have thought about this question a lot lately. It always seems to be a popular subject amongst friends or Mamas meeting at the park. There is always one Mama who loudly and proudly announces that she is done! Another that says, "Oh, you just know when you're done". The discussion quickly follows with how people justify their decision to stop trying for another baby at the amount of children they have. “How could I possibly give the appropriate amount of time to another child,” or “Our family unit simply would not cope with another little one,” or “We couldn't send the kids to private school if we had another,” or “ I have a pigeon pair, so why would i go back,” or that because your partner is done, so too are you?
I have been blessed with four beautiful little ones and I definitely knew at three that I was not done and feel so blessed to have gone on and had a fourth. But do I feel done? I can't say I have ever had that overwhelming sensation of being done. Hands full yes, exhausted yes, but done? It seems so definitive. I remember my amazing Obstetrician asking if I wanted to have my tubes tied at four and I couldn't do it, even though I knew I wouldn't be having any more children, but I still couldn't say definitively that I was done (although my husband could have, lol) .
I absolutely love babies and my heart always melts when I see them. Sometimes I imagine myself cradling a precious little newborn once more and kissing their little head. Practically I know I’m done and sometimes feel done, after a visit to the kids shoe store and $400 later, or trying to get everyone ready and out the door in the morning, but I can't say that I will ever have that overwhelming feeling that I am officially done.
Perhaps as time goes on that feeling will come, as a new season of parenting begins? Or perhaps for some it never does.
Christy Hopwood is Mama to four beautiful children and co-founder of Mama You've Got This.