Tuesday, June 4, 2013

One-And-Done Versus T4More

There's been a lively conversation about having one child versus more than one on the SMC Forum of late.

I've always assumed I would have more than one, because it seemed like that would be the healthier choice for both me and Calliope -- to keep us from getting too enmeshed, to give her a larger family, to let me experience the joys all over again, to give her someone to play with.

But seeing one of my SMC peers, Obernon, seemingly conclude that maybe she's one-and-done, when previously she had planned to have two, really caught me by surprise. (Check out her blog post here.)

Somehow, seeing that she, whose daughter is the same age as Calliope, might be done made me re-think my assumptions that of course I should have another.

One of the questions I'm struggling with right now is how much I am being influenced by finances. (Not that that's necessarily a bad reason to decide to stop having children, but somehow, it doesn't seem a very interesting reason. Dumb, I know.)

I felt like I was doing better with money for a bit, but after a couple of more expensive months, I'm digging heavily into savings again. Our nanny costs will go up slightly next year. If I knew that I would hopefully only have a couple more years of full time childcare, I think I would breathe a lot easier. (I'm hoping and praying for a pre-k spot for Calliope in the school where I work when she turns four. If she gets in, I wouldn't have to pay for daycare at all, because she could be in my office before and after school... but it's a big "if." Otherwise I will have three more years of full time childcare costs ahead of me.)

The thought of paying for four more years on top of the two more years I currently face makes me swallow hard. I have no idea where the money will come from.

I have a second job lined up for July, working as a camp nurse. There will be free childcare for Calliope. And my friend who works for Avis is arranging for a rental car that will be extremely low cost, so I should be able to save quite a lot of money by working while simultaneously not paying a nanny. If I do it again next summer, I can also sublet my apartment and save a bit more (co-op by-laws state I have to live in my apartment for at least a year before subletting, which is why I'm not doing it this summer).

So this should help quite a bit. But I'm not sure I can make enough in a relatively low paying one-month job to offset the amount I am spending right now.

My family is supportive, and would help if I asked. But beyond asking my mother for help with things like birthday presents and baby clothing, I really struggle. It just feels wrong to ask for help paying my bills. So far, I haven't done it, apart from (major) help buying my apartment. Which my mother offered -- I didn't ask.

Money is really weighing heavily on me right now, T42 or no.

Apart from money... I'd love for Calliope to have a sibling. The question is what kind of mother would I be with two? I think I'm pretty fantastic right now, actually. I'm able to meet both our needs. Calliope gets tons of attention during the day, and I get plenty of rejuvenating alone time at night and during nap time. But with two children, that delicate balance would be out of whack.

I felt like there wasn't enough love to go around when I was growing up. I never want my child(ren) to feel that. I don't want to be a nagging, irritable, exhausted mother. I fear I would become this if I was juggling the needs of three people instead of two.

Thinking about having only one feels shocking. Like, it would be so easy. Isn't it supposed to be hard? So far I have found single motherhood to be very manageable. It feels like cheating, somehow, to just keep skirting through life.

I worry, though, about my life as Calliope grows up. With her as an only child, I fear I would be far too focused on her. Not a reason to have a second child, I realize... I could develop more outside interests instead! On the other hand, though, raising a child has been the most amazing thing I've ever done. I had no inkling of how much I would love it. How could I miss doing it again?


  1. You know I get all the back and forth about T42 - I have never been so conflicted about anything in my life! And it is true, finances being a factor is kind of...well...not "sexy". I also worry that B wouldn't be as good of a person if he never had to share me...but like Rachel Zoe (of all people) said on her show, you don't have a second child so the first child won't be a brat!

    Now that I'm 100% on the "yes" train, it just irks me to no end that I may never actually get pregnant or if I do, miscarry over and over. Sometimes I wonder if trying for two isn't just a door better left never opened - but I'm a gambler by nature, so here we go!

  2. My wanting to have two children has everything to do with the children themselves, but not so much to avoid only-child syndrome. I'm an only child, and it was actually really nice when I was a kid -- I had my parents' undivided attention and time, and that was fun. But now, as an adult, I really wish I had shared it all with a sibling. Not that mine was a particularly remarkable childhood (no trauma, no ponies), but it would feel so different knowing that there were another person who had experienced growing up in that household. Circumstances allowing, that's what I want to give me child(ren).

  3. This is so tough. I *think* I'll be able to afford two, but that will mean less vacations, most definitely public school- possibly in a less desirable school district than I might afford with one, less music lessons, etc.

    And economics are really important factors. So is the experience of having a non-exhausted mom. I'm not sure what I'll do about a second. (I'm still working on #1)

    When I first started TTC I was sure I wanted two. That's part of what motivated me to start younger than I otherwise might have (34.5) and the hope of frozen sibling embryos is part of what has me pursuing IVF rather than adoption. However, TTC is HARD. I don't know what to expect from pregnancy, but I've rarely heard it described as easy and parenthood gets harder with more children as well. So, I can absolutely see multiple reasons why one & done sounds appealing.

    Good luck in your decision!

  4. I went into SMChood knowing I wanted two. I also knew I couldn't possibly handle two little ones...which is why I started trying for my first in my 20s. (And at 38, after 3 years of attempts for a sibling, ended up with a baby from a donor egg cycle.)

    The 8 year age difference has been wonderful overall. Still parenting two is CRAZY in terms of coordinating schedules and such.

  5. It is such a tough decision, Abby! I personally feel quite strongly about the importance of having a solid financial cushion, so don't see that your concerns there are unimportant.

    As someone who has decided to stop at one (age was also a factor for me), I can say that it felt clear to me that it was the best decision for this little family of two. My daughter does have two much older "special cousins" who are technically her half-sibs (known donor), and some other children of very close friends who will be her forever family/friends...so that helps me know she'll be fine without a full sibling.

    You seem to be such a reflective person; I feel sure you will discern what is best after spending some time sitting with all of this.

    Good luck! :)


  6. Yes I hear you - there are definite advantages and disadvantages to both. I think you would cope whatever you decide, you would just do what needed to be done when it needed to be done, and if there were two they would also have each other so need less input from you (though not in the first years!) so it would work out.

    I am moving towards the one and done, but only because nature is making the choice for me . A bit like the first one, I feel I would regret it if I didn't at least give it a really good try. If you can reach the one and done place without that though, that's a great place to be. It is becoming easier for me as BB get older, as so much of the baby stuff is behind us - do I really want to go back there?

    Good luck with the thinking.

  7. I can't stop thinking about this myself, so i get it. I fairly often find myself picking out names for my second child, which I realize is completely ridiculous at this point! I'd really like to have another, but for all the reasons you mentioned, I don't know if it'll ever actually happen. Good luck making the decision, I'm just glad I'm not having to make a final decision myself yet!

  8. T42 has weighed heavily on me for a long time. A big part of not for me is related to finances. With just E & I, I can afford an excellent preschool, vacations every year, a college fund for her, a retirement fund for me, savings & luxuries like weekends away, theatre tickets etc...with 2 we would live hand to mouth, not that that's bad, that's how I grew up but I just want better for my kids than I had.

    That financial security goes a long way for my peace of mind, I'm not stressing about money & bills so can turn more attention to Elena & her needs etc, & my needs are met better. I feel more emotionally stable when I'm financially stable & secure.

  9. I decided it would probably be one and done for me before I even TTCed for Sadie. As a public school teacher, I just don't feel like it is fiscally responsible for me to have another one. My daycare and insurance costs alone could sink us; as my mom would not be able to care for two kids (right now Sadie is only in regular daycare two days a week) and insurance costs are insane for dependents.

    My other fear is not necessarily logical, but it weighs on me. I had an easy pregnancy, and S is beautiful and perfect. I'm afraid to tempt fate with a second. Plus at 37 I would want to get going soon, and S is only 7 months now. Two little ones so close together with me working full time freaks me out; I want to be able to give enough time to the one I have.

    I joke that if I meet a man in a week, get married in a month, and am ready to start baby-making in a year I'll do it, but otherwise S will be my one and only. That doesn't mean I don't gaze wistfully at every baby bump I see, though... Good luck whatever you choose. You are doing amazingly and any little one would be lucky to have you. :-)

  10. In all honesty, I definitely feel like I am more exhausted, nagging, and less patient than I would be with just one. And most definitely more financially strained. Two young children on your own, working full time, and throw in a few extra challenges - it really is too much for one person. I tell myself daily that this is the hardest time and it will get easier from here on out - at least the physical and emotional aspects of parenting babies/toddlers/preschoolers. It is very, very hard. But of course I would do it again. I can't imagine living without either of my girls. My rationale in having 2 was almost entirely to give Fiona a sibling to share her life with. I think I would be very lonely without siblings, since both my parents are dead and I am unmarried. I think it is easy to say that friends can fill the role of family, but rare that they actually do to the same extent. Good luck with the decision - as has been said both situations truly do have their own pros and cons.