After taking a break last week whilst I was away, I’m delighted to welcome J to the blog this week to share her story. J has a little boy with her partner and has been asked when they’ll be giving him a sibling. Here, J shares why a family of 3 works for them and opens up about some of the challenges that parenting can bring. As always, I’m so grateful for everyone’s commitment because it is such a personal subject to open up about. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
I’ve also started to build a resource list, for those of you who are either childfree by circumstance or childfree by choice. A combination of blogs, communities, individuals who are doing wonderful things in this space. Please do let me know if there are resources you use I can add.
(If you would like to see where it all began, click here. Thank you so much for your support, if you would like to share your own story please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org)
We Are : J and S and E, 38, 37 and 6
Home Is: East Anglia
We Do: Arts and Technology
We have our son who is 6 years old and full of life and lego and cars. Together we make up our family of three. We are happy as us three. Adding more children to our family would not be right for us. However, we get asked constantly when are we going to have any more children, ‘you can’t just have one’, ‘you’ve got time to have more’,’you’ll change your mind’ ‘where are his siblings?’
When he was a baby it was always, ‘you’ll have another soon’. Now he is older it is, ‘are his siblings at the same school?’, ‘it’s cruel to not have given him a brother or sister’, ‘you have a sibling, why deny him one?’
Well… I have never truthfully anwered those prying questions, not really even to my own family and friends. I have always brushed off the question with, we are happy as we are, we’ll see, or some joke about how much washing there is with a baby.
Truth is I struggled so much in the first few weeks and months. I wondered what I had done. I seemed to have ruined our relationship as there was no time for one another, ruined my work as we knew I couldn’t go back to the long days in the job I had at the time, ruined our home by having washing and toys and playmats all around, ruined my mental health.
Yet I loved him so much. It was such a conflict of emotions. When I met up with other mums at playgroups I would hear how they are coping, and it seemed E was pretty good at feeding and sleeping. So why was I finding it so hard? It was relentless and everything seemed to need me, I just couldn’t find a moment to be me again. I would daydream about sitting in a traffic jam, just me in the car, going nowhere and having no need to be anywhere, or needed by anyone.
It was a dark time and I felt so alone. Although I put on a brave face and I went out to coffee mornings and playgroups, saw family and friends, but I hid how I was really feeling about motherhood. I was scared that I’d be found out as everyone commented on how good he was and I must know what I was doing. But inside I was panicking daily about one thing or another, my mind fogging up trying to understand what he needed from me, the worry of how I would manage the next stage. I think I was so focussed on the big things like weaning and potty training, that I failed to enjoy the present time. Or off the scale worrying that he would be ill and I wouldn’t know what to do. After some councelling it came down to how I thought of things and how much of a worrier I am. I don’t have the capacity to add more worry and anxiety.
We talked about having 2 children before I got pregnant, it seemed the thing you do, we both have a sibling. But from early on S could see that I wasn’t coping well in my head. So we said it’s ok to have E and no more as we could see that I may not be well enough to be a good mother to E let alone him and another. So I worked on coaching my mind to accept that I am enough for him and to love our family of three. Having a child is amazing and terrifying in the same moment. Sometimes when E is away from me I feel like I have lost my shadow, I wouldn’t be without him
We know it’s the right decision for us, we are happy, E is a happy boy and loves it when he has a friend over to play, but equally loves it when he can have time to play with us, or alone. I don’t think I could split my time and attention between children on a daily basis. I don’t think my brain works that way. And that’s OK. Accepting that it’s OK to not be the norm and we are fine as we are.
Thank you so so much to J for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read J’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.