Don’t tell my younger daughters, but I sometimes question their very existence. I wonder whether we should perhaps have had just one child and, by nature of being born first, as much as by being who she is, that only child would be Lara. Not least because she is such a ‘mini me’ in looks, opinions, attitude, temperament, everything. Much longed-for, and long anticipated, Lara is everything I expected and hoped my daughter to be. You see she has been thought of for the last thirty or more years, my Lara, the little girl I dreamt of and longed for for years.
So I do find myself wondering if sticking at one would have been better or easier, especially on our not so good days. Whether having one to pour all our love, aspirations, knowledge, and hopes into wouldn’t have been better. And certainly only having one to deal with during times of ill health would be preferable. In this pondering, I (conveniently) forget that I inherently believe that only children have a bit of a rum deal, and unless surrounded by other children, be they relatives or no, they tend to suffer for being onlys.
Of course, I’m not the first parent to question whether I have had too few or too many children; had them too close together or too far apart; had them too early in life or too late. Indeed, I have yet to come across any parent who believes they got it ‘just right’ – in any aspect of their parenting!
My thoughts are, however, only fleeting and when Lara and I return from our much-cherished and carefully scheduled one-on-one time, we are both desperate to catch up with everyone else. And when I see how my three beautiful babies interact with one another and the love and laughter they share, I don’t forget how we’ve done things for a moment. I love that they have each other and I’m delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to see them grow together.
A story I once wrote featured a rather Victorian scene where a mother and father gazed at one another across the happy heads of their assembled gaggle of children, and smiled. That’s kind of how I see Steve and I. As hard as things sometimes are, especially the dull stuff like illness, money, cleaning schedules and life admin, here we are, smiling at each other over the heads of our brood.
My life plan in early teenage-hood involved having seven children, a number and idea heavily influenced by The Waltons, no doubt. That number has evolved downwards over the years to a (slightly) more manageable four or five. But all along it centred on a core group of four beautiful little girls, my March sisters, my Grand Duchesses, my OTMA, and thankfully I’m well on the way to that particular dream. People often ask us if we are hoping the next one will be a boy, erm nope, four girls please! Here’s hoping...
As for the perfect number of children, had I met Steve a decade or more earlier, we might well have had seven or more by now. I love it all, from being pregnant to giving birth, and everything after; to me being a mother is the most wonderful thing ever. So, what’s the perfect number? Whatever you want. Happy, healthy and loved is all they need; whether you have one or fifteen babies. And as for the perfect time, age or circumstance; well, I’m not sure there is one, is there?
Enjoy your babies!