By the time I had my second son, I had already been asked the three most personal, invasive questions that anyone who isn’t your doctor could possibly ask. You have probably been asked them, too, or have asked them yourself (Shame on you!). You know the questions:
- When are you getting married?
- When are you going to have a baby?
- When are going to give your son/daughter a sister/brother?
I thought getting married, having a baby and giving that baby a sibling would have been enough. I was wrong. The question I hadn’t expected was what would come next. Oh, sure, I got a year or two reprise from the invasive questions after my second son was born. I think people saw how tired and hormonal I was. Asking me any such question was likely to result in my becoming a sobbing lump of incoherent mush or my removing your head with my teeth, either literally or metaphorically. No answer was worth the risk of witnessing either.
Eventually, though, the question came, “Would you have kids again?”. Usually, I was asked this question while I was dealing with one child having a tantrum as the other cried in terror or as I tried to change one diaper while the other child removed his, and it’s contents, onto the floor next to me. To be clear, no one was ever asking if I would have more kids, just whether or not I had made a mistake by having any.
I have to admit, in those early days when I was too tired to think, or feel, or function, there were many times I would have quickly answered “No!”. “No. If I had to do it over again, I would not have kids. I would choose sleep. I would choose freedom. I would choose feeling human.”
But when my boys would fall asleep in my arms or smile at me or do something for the first time, I was entranced. I was in a bubble of love and could not image life without those experiences.
The question, “Would you have kids again?”, has come up over and over as the kids have grown. I wonder sometimes if people even realize what they are asking. Do I look that miserable? Sometimes, I probably do. Are you suggesting my children shouldn’t exist, that I made a mistake? I never thought anyone was trying to be cruel. More likely, they were acknowledging the level of commitment it takes to be a parent. Hell, I have even said to people who don’t have children, “You made the right decision!” or have warned them, “Whatever you do, don’t have kids.”
The question hasn’t just been from strangers. My husband and I have asked it to each other. We have often joked (okay, sometimes, we weren’t joking) about how much easier life would be with only one. The thing is, we already have two. How could we possibly decide which child to keep?
And, that was the crux of it. Once you have a child in your life, once you become a parent, there is no undoing it. Sure, you may wish that you had more sleep, more time to yourself, more time for your partner. Never having had your child, though, that is unimaginable. The thought of a world where either of my sons didn’t exist is sad and lonely.
“Would you have kids again?” is an unanswerable question because once you have your children there is no other life. I have no way of knowing what my life would have been like if I hadn’t had children. I can imagine many things but none of them may have been true. But, now that I do have children, I can’t imagine my life without them. They are as much part of me as my limbs. They are extensions of my being. No matter how much of a challenge it can be to raise them, I would not want a life without them.