A Magic Number

The Next Family

By: Amy Forstadt

I’m officially coming out: Benjie will be an only child. For a while there, around Benjie’s second birthday, there was a window where I was open to having a second kid. But as I got closer and closer to my fortieth birthday, that window closed a little more every day until the big four-oh arrived and it slammed shut with a resounding smack, sending paint chips flying from the windowsill of my uterus. (I never claimed to have perfect metaphors, just go with me here.)

Yes, I hear what you’re saying right now, that two kids are double the love, double the fun, double the joy. And that Benjie will need a sibling when it comes time to buy me Ensure and change my adult diapers. Plus, living with siblings is good for kids – it makes them less spoiled. And teaches them to share. And besides, only children are freaks!
To you I say, calm down. First of all, I’m an only child myself, so you’ve just insulted me. Watch it with the judgments, there, imaginary reader. Second, I realize that I’m making a decision based in a moment in time (now) that I may regret later (deathbed), but it feels right to me. My husband, I think, is not quite as on board with just having one child, but even he agrees that the advantages may outweigh the disadvantages for us.

The fact is, I’m really happy with my life, exactly how it is. Sure, more kids might equal more love, but they also equal more chaos, more yelling, more demands on everyone’s time. Between you guys and me, I really like my quiet house. I also like knowing that there will always only be one baseball game, one birthday party, or one school recital going on, and that my husband and I will both be able to go, every time. I like being so close to Benjie, and knowing that he and I share a special relationship that neither one of us will have with anyone else. I especially like being able to be the kind of mother that I want to be, one who is present, patient, interested and involved. I just don’t think I could do that with two. I think I’d be way more snippy and impatient. I don’t like it when I get that way now, so I can’t imagine being okay with it happening twice as much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom (and not just a mom, Benjie’s mom), but I’ve got a lot more I want to do than just momming it for the next several years. I know there are plenty of moms out there with two, three, four, eight kids who have thriving careers and lives outside of their families. But, frankly, I don’t think I’m cut out to be one of those women. I don’t have the energy, the organizational skills, the focus, the drive, and have I mentioned the energy? I just can’t imagine being happy that way. I’m not sure if that makes me selfish or self-aware, but that’s my reality and I accept it.

Lately, Benjie has been requesting the same song over and over when we ride in the car, as preschoolers are wont to do. It’s the one from Schoolhouse Rock (you might remember it from your own childhood) called “Three Is A Magic Number.” And the more I listen to it, the more it feels like an anthem for our little family. A man and a woman/had a little baby/Yes they did/They had three in the family/That’s a magic number. Three is for us, the perfect number.
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[Photo Credit: Flickr Image: Scribbletaylor]

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