Sunday, 3 March 2013

Some thoughts on having a second child

Whilst doing a bit of morning yoga I started thinking about life with a second child.

The first thing that occurred to me, which is a thought I've had quite often in the last 14 weeks, is how easy life with one child is.

That's not to say I think being a parent is easy, or that Cherry is a particularly easy child. But one child is easy to manage. One child, even a demanding child like Cherry, can fit nicely into your life, and still leave you time to do other things.

I fully understand why some parents decide to stop at one child, or leave a sizeable gap between children rather than churn out a second as quickly as they can. 

Two children shifts the balance. Two children to one adult most of the time, and two children to two adults the rest of the time - the ratio is never really in your favour. Two children won't slot nicely in around your life. With two children, you have to fit in around them. And the younger the oldest of those two children is, the harder it is.

So I imagine it will be very hard at first, with two children under the age of two each with their own definite and very pressing needs. I am prepared for a year of having very little else in my life than my children, of being nothing but a mother who crams in work when she possibly can, of having no social life, no 'me-time', of days and weeks flying past in a blur. 

When Cherry was tiny all that mattered was her. Cups of tea went cold, dinners went untouched, TV unwatched, books unread. I was only interested in her needs, not my own. It was months before I started to think about my own needs at all - they just didn't matter. I assume this was hormone-related and that I will feel the same with a second child. 

The only area in which I insisted upon looking after myself was around sleep - I slept when she slept, went to bed early if I thought she'd be wakeful in the night, and took every opportunity to catch up on sleep. I didn't want to be tired and resentful of her, and I will take the same approach with a second child. It won't be as easy - but on the plus side it's not as dramatic a transition from sleeping whenever you want, all weekend if you like, whilst pregnant, to having your first newborn. 

I don't doubt at first Cherry will find it hard to adjust but in my eyes a sibling is one of the greatest gifts I can give her. So I don't feel guilty or worried about her at all. As far as I'm concerned she's gaining a playmate and a lifelong soulmate, not losing out because she has to share me with another child. She will only want to play with Mummy for a few short years. If we are lucky, she will want to play with, and later hang out with or whatever adults do, her sibling her whole life. 

I have had a second child on my mind since the moment I found out I was pregnant with Cherry. I have never viewed it as 'enjoy the first one then we'll see'. Children have always been a package deal for me. Two, as close in age as possible, a difficult few years with them at first, and a lifetime of them being as close as siblings can be. It may not turn out like that - not all siblings close in age are close in friendship, but I can only think positive. 

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