A Second Child: To Have or Have Not?



I have written about this subject before, the question of whether or not Anthony and I should add another child to our family.  At the time, that question seemed to loom ahead in the future.   It felt distant and far away.  I said if I did have a second child, I wanted to wait until Rosemarie was somewhat self-sufficient:  potty trained, walking well on her own, and climbing into her car seat, before I had another baby to take care of.

It is clear now that that time is almost here.  It is no longer a decision to be made down the road.  One never knows how long it will take to bring a baby home, adopted or otherwise, and since I would want my children to be fairly close in age if I had another, the time to act is now.

And yet I can act.  I can’t move forward because I still don’t know the best answer.  I still don’t know whether or not I want a second child.

There are times that I do.

When my friend brings over her eleven-month-old little girl, and Rosie bends down to her face smiling ear to ear, calling her “baby”, tickling her and giggling all the while.

When frosty snow covers the ground and Rosemarie stands at the door ready to go out and play.  And guilt fills my heart that she will have to make snow angels all by her lonesome, that she won’t have a partner for a snowball fight.  Of course, I can play with her but let’s be honest.  The older she gets, the less fun it will be to have her mother as a playmate.

When I see my adult friends who are only children with sick parents and the weight of that burden, far too heavy for one person, rests solely on their shoulders.

When Rosemarie grabs my hand as I fold the laundry asking me in her sweet voice to come in the play room to build a tower.  While I’m tempted to finish folding the towels in front of me, I can’t refuse her, for all I see in my mind is her sitting all by herself on the chevron rug, placing the Legos on top of each other, yelling “tada” once she’s done to an empty room.

When we drive away from her cousins’ houses, and her cries fill my ears as she calls their names from her car seat long after we have left their homes behind.

When I realize almost all of the children around Rosemarie have siblings. And no matter now much they love her, no matter how much their parents instill in them that they must love Rosie and protect as if she is their sister, she isn’t.  Believe me, I am not speaking biologically here.  What I mean is they have siblings with whom they will grow every day, siblings with whom they will share bedrooms, parents, and the kind of memories you can only make when you live in the same home.   In this way, they all have sisters and brothers.  But Rosie only has them.

I know I sound dramatic.  I am not claiming Rosemarie spends all her days weeping from her loneliness.

Still, these are the moments when I want a second child.

But, alas, there I times when I don’t.

When I do enter that play room with Rosemarie.  I can sit on the floor and play with her because I have time to do so.  Because I do have to hold the house together and wash the dishes and cook dinner, but I can find the time for it all because there is only one child to tend to.  I don’t have to change someone else’s diaper or help someone else with homework.  I can give her the attention she needs and also give some attention to my house, my husband, and myself.

When I am around my sister (Love you, Kris) and her three children and I see how incredibly busy her day is. When I see how it just never ends.  Because when one child is settled, the other needs juice and when that child’s thirst is quenched, the baby needs a clean diaper.

When I see my own mother with her four grown children (Love you too, Mom) and I notice that sometimes she too is stretched across her daughters.  She babysits for me on Monday, helps Kristen plan a party on Tuesday, visits a college with my niece on Wednesday and cooks dinner for my nephew on Thursday.

And I’m not saying my mother or sister is unhappy with her life. I’m not saying anything for either of them. I’m simply saying maybe I don’t want the the same thing.

Maybe I want to have time.  Time to write.  Time to read.  Time to wrap every Christmas present with ribbon, tree branches and candy canes.  Time to decorate for Valentine’s Day.  Time to see my friends.  Time to just do.  No, I don’t have time to do everything I want to do.  Just yesterday, I got my nails done for the first time in three months, but I think I have more time than mothers with more than one child.

I know what you’re thinking. The list of reasons to have a second child far outweighs the list not to have another, right?  Plus, my reasons to have second are all in the interest of Rosemarie; most of my reasons not to have one are about me.  As mothers, isn’t it our job to put our children’s needs before our own?

When I consider this, two things come to mind.  First, I think of the other major reason I am unsure about a second baby:  my stamina.  I will not delve into this in depth again as it was discussed at length in my other post on this subject, but it’s a huge factor in my inability to decide.

Of course if we adopt another child, I will fall in love again.  All my fears of having not enough time, of feeling too chaotic will pale in comparison to the joy a son or another daughter will bring to my life.

But my stamina will not just magically increase.  My frequent need for a midday nap will not instantly disappear. There will still be times when I feel I can’t keep up as a mother of a toddler or a preschooler or a teenager.  And it’s possible having a second will only make matters worse.  It is possible Rosemarie and this other child will have a less attentive mother, a mother who needs rest more often and who will have less energy to give to her kids.

And what about this other child?  All of my reasons to have him or her are about Rosemarie.  Is that really fair? Is it right to have a second child just for the sake of your first?  Let’s remember.  This is a bit different when adoption is involved.  If I were to have a biological child, that child literally would not exist unless I decided to have him.  But with adoption, the adopted child will exist and will live whether or not Anthony and I adopt him.  Is it right to bring the child home, to make him ours, if I want him mostly because of the child I already have?  Is it right when another couple desperate for a first child or second or third could adopt him instead?

(Sidenote:   To my second child, if you do come into our lives, please know I love you with every bit of myself.  Please know that now that I have you, I can’t imagine life without you.  When I wrote this, I just hadn’t met you yet.)

Perhaps all of this means I am just thinking too much.  Perhaps not.  I know people who have had more children without every really knowing if it was what they wanted.  I also know people who have always wanted two or three or more.

What I don’t know is what I want.  What I don’t know is the best choice for my family.  And what I really don’t know is how I will ever decide!

Some couples leave such a question up to fate.  Some couples can just say “if it happens, it happens.” But others, like adoptive parents or those who need infertility treatments, have to definitively decide if this is what they want.  We must decide.  We must move forward.  I just don’t know how.



4 thoughts on “A Second Child: To Have or Have Not?

  1. Great article as usual and beautifully written! Thank you or always being so open and honest with your feelings.
    I am speaking as an adopted, only child and as a mother of three. As far as being an only child, my parents were able to spend more time with me and give me many opportunities. We vacationed all over Europe, visited Disney yearly, and went on multiple mini vacations in between. My mother and father cultivated my love of art by teaching me different genres and using different mediums. They would not have been able to devote that time and attention to me if I had a sibling! Don’t get me wrong, there were times I yearned for a sibling but I quickly learned that my friends became my surrogate siblings and that became enough. Even now in my 40s I know that I can call anyone of them and they would be here by my side instantaneously.
    Now to discuss caring for an ailing parent…THANK GOD I DIDN’T HAVE A SIBLING! I say this to everyone all the time. The decisions I made were mine to make without interference or argument. It was difficult to care for my father but “God won’t give you more than you can handle” and I did it and I would do it again for my mother, our mother in law and our aunt in law! (I learned that from Denise Carsten).
    My decision to become a parent…I always said that I wanted one child or a lot of children. Having twins our first time around pretty much made that decision for us. I can tell you that from a parent’s perspective it is very different caring for one. I spend an incredible amount of alone time with Charlie and I love it! I wasn’t able to devote this time and really get to connect to Annie and Lucy the way I have with Charlie. If I would have had just one, I don’t think I would have had more. But since that is not the case, I do love all three of my children and I wouldn’t have my life any other way, ok maybe one more child lol. And yes it takes a minimum of a half hour to physically get out of the house in the morning, I had to find a truck that I could fit 3 seats across, and no there is not enough room in their playroom (Pottery Barn doesn’t make enough storage) or my entire house for all of their “stuff” but you learn to live with clutter.
    Just remember that no matter what decision you make, Rosie has an tremendous group of cousins and friends who will always be there to support her whether she has a sibling or remains an only child! This applies to you as well…you know we are all here to help and support you so feel free to bring Rosie over if you are feeling tired and need to rest or if you do adopt another child, they are just as welcomed here as Rosie is! We love you, Anthony and Rosie.

  2. I always enjoy your posts. It’s especially interesting when they expaand upon conversations we’ve had. You know my thoughts about this. Ultimately, you have to do what works best for you, Anthony, and doodle.

  3. I really don’t know what to say. This is not a decision I can advise you about. This is between you and Anthony. All I will say is that I will support you in whatever you decide.
    Nothing means more to me than the happiness of my children. I love you, Anthony and Rosie with all my heart and anything I can do to assure that happiness, all you need do is ask.

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