The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.
Life with two
I slowly and quietly close the door to our infant daughter’s room. A combination of shoulder snuggles, back rubs, and under-the-breath praying has seen her drift innocently off to sleep.
My wife, at the same time, is exiting our 4 year old son’s room. She has read three stories, told one and listened to his impressively elaborate, yet entirely nonsensical, made up story. She has then negotiated the correct combination of water bottles, night lights and teddy bears to ensure he survives the night.
She looks at me sensually, nods in the direction of our empty bed and says,
“Just FYI, we are never having relations again, you know that right?”
Raising a hand to high five her, I say,
“Amen to that!”
She leaves me hanging,
“Nope! I don’t even want to touch you, can’t risk catching pregnant”
We have two kids, its pretty exhaustingly awesome but I absolutely can’t imagine adding a third.
This is pretty hard for me to admit as it is a significant climb down from the initial number I pitched to my wife on our first date.
My own Rugby 7s team
Seven. For some unfathomable reason my young, and foolish, self wanted seven children.
I’m very close with my cousins, there are four of them, we used to live next door to each other. Throw in my brother and I, and that would mean there were regularly six kids in the house. So why seven? I don’t know, maybe I wanted to go one further.
Of course I thought having six kids under one roof was awesome because I was one of the kids, I didn’t have to parent us!
To my wife’s credit she didn’t get up and leave that first date when I confessed the above logic.
She did laugh in my face. But she didn’t leave.
Then she used the salt and peppers shakers to explain the difference between man-to-man defense and zone. Seeing I wasn’t entirely convinced, she pointed out she’d be the one responsible for birthing these seven tiny humans and I acquiesced.
Eight years after this date we had one fantastic little boy. He was smart, polite and immediately one of our team.
I loved him so intensely it was hard to imagine changing our family dynamic. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
My son had my attention anytime he wanted it, I was always available to play, every night I had time and energy for stories. Could I really split my time? How would he handle me giving attention elsewhere? How heart broken would I feel when I had to say to him “Not now buddy, your sibling needs….”
I honestly wasn’t sure that a second, let alone seventh, was a good idea.
Of course that was before I met my daughter.
When is it time? What should be the gap?
Planning the first is fairly simple when you boil it down. Are we ready to have kids? Yes? Ok, let’s get started.
Planning the second has a few more factors. Do we want a second one? Can we afford a second one? What sort of a gap is ideal? Will we end up paying two nursery fees? What happens if we get the same sex again, do we push for a third? Where on earth will we find the time/energy to actually have sex?!
Before we’d managed to answer all of those questions we looked at our son. I realized there will come a point, probably soon, where he isn’t interested in playing with me. But if he has a sibling then there is another person from his generation for him to play/fight with. Sure there is a chance they might hate each other for the first 18 years, but this way, when his mother and I are gone, he’ll still have some family.
Turns out she is her own person
I am fully conscious that up to this point I have been describing, and was thinking about, my daughter as a familial accessory. As if she was there to meet the diversity quotas and provide support for my son. I wasn’t really giving her the credit she deserved. Goodness did she put me right when we eventually met.
I needn’t have worried
From the moment we introduced my son to the idea of pregnancy he fully bought in. We read books about becoming a big brother, he picked out clothes and toys that he wanted to hand down to the baby. He decided from the beginning that he was having a sister. He came to the scans and, when we confirmed it would be a girl he said,
When she was born she had to spend a bit of time in the High-dependency unit. My son arrived, gift of a cuddly rabbit in hand, completely unperturbed by the tubes plugged into her arms and nose, he gave her the rabbit, held her finger, and told her he loved her.
Thick as Thieves
From that moment on they have not looked back. He looks out for her in every situation, keeps her amused blowing raspberries in the back of the car or lets her sit in his lap, when he is sitting in MY lap, during story time. He holds her hand as she learns to walk and comes to get us when he thinks she has said a word. For her part she knows a good thing when she sees it. She follows him everywhere, laughs at his jokes and squeals in delight when he tickles her.
Amazingly enough they have what each other needs. They are exactly the right dose of opposite to complement one another. It’s hard now to imagine either of them on their own, as if we didn’t know the jigsaw was incomplete until she filled in the last gap. They are such a formidable pair that I am thankful on a daily basis that we took the risk of having a second.
And so a third?
So, if I didn’t initially credit my daughter with her magnetic personality and the joy she’d bring to her relationship with her brother then am I guilty of the same blindness when I reject out of hand the idea of having a third?
This time I fear breaking up the band. With three there must be times when two are closer than the other? Sure the combination will change but still doesn’t one end up being left out at times?
Right now I can’t imagine the heartbreak, even for a second, if my son or daughter thought they weren’t the most important thing in the other’s life.
That said, I have friends who have three. When we get the kids together and I’m playing with them, one clinging to each limb as I pretend to be a swamp monster, I let myself imagine the rugby 7’s team. For a moment, a fleeting moment, it is appealing again.
However, there are certain physical pastimes that need to occur to introduce another kid.
After a day of swamp monster, an evening of brokering a suitable settlement at dinnertime, and 3 stories per child, let’s just say there is absolutely no risk of a third appearing anytime soon.
Eager for a second opinion I asked the other wise and learned person with a say in this matter; my son.
“Would you like another sibling, buddy?”
“I’d like another sister”
“Oh really? How many sisters would you like?”
He thought for a moment, presumably weighing up the family finances, car size and the implications for his future holiday destinations and university prospects, then confidently declared:
“FIVE! I’d like five sisters Daddy”
Well, you all know how much I hate to disappoint my children…
The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.
7 thoughts on “If two’s company, is three a crowd?”
We have three kids and it is exhausting but in all honesty, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The worst part is the constant fighting but I guess you’d get that with just two children too.
Yeah I can just about hand out even handed discipline with two. Trying to sit as judge, jury and executioner over three I’m sure is testing!
When we had our third child, my eldest two were 5 and 3 and we’d reconciled ourselves to only having 2. Now he’s 5 and his elder brother is ten, we really can’t imagine life without him. It is harder with three though because someone invariably gets left out when they play together. And you have to be more careful when booking family tickets, holidays and buying or renting cars but that’s a small price to pay IMHO 🙂
I have absolutely no doubt that this is one of those situations where logic and “sensible heads” might suggestion 2 it better than 3. However none of those stack up against the joy that the third one brings!
Oh yes, kids always want to have more siblings! Good luck trying not to catch pregnant.
Goodness if *I* catch then I’ll have quite a few more questions for the midwife than “is it a girl or a boy?”!!
I know what you mean! We have twins and they wear me out so I couldn’t imagine having a third to add to the mix! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky