done having kids, mama disrupt

How do you know when you’re done having kids?

In Features, Motherhood, Stories by Gemma Dawkins

How do you know when you’re done having kids? Is there like a number you can call?

By Gemma Dawkins.

I always assumed I would just, you know, know.

The day we brought our eldest daughter home from the hospital, we started talking about the next one. #KEEN.

After our next was born, I felt pretty certain that there was still space for one more baby in our future. I pictured us in a decade, and saw three kids around the dinner table. I thought about my pregnancies, and despite having complained loudly throughout the whole 37 years of them [at least that’s how long they felt], I didn’t feel ready to close that chapter. The sleeping newborn chapter. The baby-head-smells and the impossibly-tiny-hands.

But when our youngest had her second birthday, it felt like the end of an era. As we waved goodbye to the baby days and said hello to the toddler whirlwind.

When our first turned two, we used her birthday party to announce our second pregnancy. This time around, the second birthday marked the arrival of two year old molars, as our sleep went down the drain. Again. Joy.

“The truth is, I don’t feel anywhere near ready to add another baby to the equation.”

It didn’t help that we were deep in the trenches of one of the roughest winters we had ever experienced.

First it was school holidays. We tried to juggle two full-time jobs around two full-on kids. There was a lot of screen time. A lot of guilt.

done having kids, mama disrupt

Then on the day school went back, our eldest had her tonsils out. While she was recovering, our youngest brought a virus home from daycare. We all caught it [of course] so we isolated at home. Barking into each others mouths [so glamorous]. Trying to keep on top of work. Trying to entertain the kids [impossible]. Keeping the country’s economy afloat with endless food deliveries.

And just as we were all finally getting back to health…we got another mystery virus. Back to the drive-through testing clinic for PCRs, the most exciting outing we’d had in weeks.

“How could we possibly do this with one more?” I asked my partner. “Like seriously, how do people do it when the kids outnumber the adults?”

It was the first time we ever raised the possibility of being done having kids.

Saying it out loud, the thought of never having to master breastfeeding again, of never having to do those sleepless newborn nights, or another four month sleep regression, or another heartbreaking first day of daycare…it felt like relief.

But then of course, we all got better.

As my mind cleared, and I started to feel like myself again, I tackled the kids’ bombshell of a room.

And as I packed away clothes that I swear fit them just weeks ago, I was reminded just how fast this stage will fly. The toddler years make way for the preschool years, and I’ll miss the way my arms and bed and heart are always so full.

We have been so, so lucky. Our kids are wild, and exhausting, and the best thing we’ve ever done.

Am I ready for another baby? No.

Am I ready to say I’ll never be ready?

I don’t think so.

Maybe just give me a minute – and a margarita, while you’re at it.