Yesterday my brother's family got the best Valentine's Day gift ever - a healthy baby girl. We were all pretty excited for Baby J.'s arrival. My brother already has a son and a daughter, so there were absolutely no comments about, "I bet you hope this one is a boy/girl" or any of those other things people say when you have two kids of the same sex and assume you want one of each. And my brother and his wife didn't know what they were having so there were no comments about how it would be terrible for a girl to be born on Valentine's Day or anything like that. The baby was simply coming, and everyone focused on that. And we as a family got to celebrate the day dedicated to love by welcoming a new little person to love into our lives. Perfect.
But for me, the birth of my niece was also a little bittersweet. Every other time my brother had a child, I was either pregnant or had *just* had a baby myself. Our boys are six months apart and our girls three weeks apart. And while I'm glad that my brother and his wife got to enjoy a pregnancy where the focus was on them and them alone, I'm a little sad that I don't have another baby on the way.
Don't get me wrong, I'm beyond thrilled that I have two healthy children. Really, that's more than I ever could have asked for. And I'm thrilled to have both a boy and and girl. I honestly always thought I'd have all boys - and I was okay with that. So to have Sweet Pea in my life is an unexpected joy that I cherish every day. But I also love large families. I always have. I blame it on my Catholic upbringing. I can vividly remember sitting in church watching the families with kids sitting like stepping stones in the pews. One right after the other, cute as can be. It's something I always wanted.
But juggling work and a large family seems pretty much impossible. Daycare costs alone make having a large family unworkable. I don't want my kids spaced so far apart that they don't really know each other (which we'd have to do to afford daycare) and we can't afford to have more than two in daycare at a time. And even if daycare was affordable, there's still the problems of juggling activities, homework, laundry and -oh yeah - college costs. I just don't know how we could do all of that with both of us working.
The Juggle addressed this issue the other day. http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2011/02/11/life-as-a-working-mom-of-four/ In the article, the author talks about how she had to make both personal and professional sacrifices to make her situation work - despite having a stay at home husband. And while there were plenty of comments talking about the amount of love in large families, there weren't a whole lot of specifics on how to make it work.
But a lack of suggestions has never stopped me before. I have no idea how I'm going to handle the juggle once KJ hits school, but that didn't stop me from having him. And we didn't plan Sweet Pea at all. But we still managed to figure out how to raise two kids, one year apart and keep our jobs during a recession. I have faith that we'll figure it out.
As much faith as I have, I know right now is not the time to add to our family. For as much as I would like another baby, we are just hitting our stride. We're balancing the juggle and working well as a family. It feels right. But I'm gathering suggestions for the future. Just in case. Because if my kids have taught me anything, it's that I still love big families.