This article originally appeared in “Chicago Tribune”
Dear My Third-Born,
You might read this letter someday, or you might never exist so these words won’t matter. The reality is, we’re not sure if we should bring you into this world. I know, it sounds harsh. But there was a time when I was almost certain our family of four was complete. Only recently have I been reconsidering having a third child.
You see, I’m afraid you won’t get the same care that your siblings got – that I would be cheating you somehow. When your oldest brother was born, I barely worked at all. The first year of your other brother’s life, I worked a comfortable 20 hours a week. Now, my career has taken off and I’m pretty much a full-time entrepreneur. I don’t want to give that up. And I feel selfish just thinking about this.
It costs a lot to raise a child. I would never put a price tag on you as a living human being, but since you don’t yet exist, I can’t help but think about the expenses that come with having three kids. A bigger car. A more spacious house. Child care. Activities. Food. Clothes. An extra plane ticket with each vacation. College.
Most of all, I’m overwhelmed as it is with your brothers, and I can’t imagine being able to spread my attention between three of you. I yell a lot. I cry sometimes, too. At times, I’ve turned on the TV for your brothers so I can catch up on work. To say I’m stressed from trying to balance everything is an understatement. And bringing you into this chaos just doesn’t seem fair.
And yet, it doesn’t seem fair to use any of these reasons against you, either. We live in an affluent area, with a stable, happy family life. Our family’s stress is mostly a result of our being so busy, with normal ups and downs in between. Even if I changed nothing about us – if I worked the same schedule, yelled the same amount, continued to live out of laundry baskets and used Daniel Tiger as an occasional babysitter, you would still be blessed.
As for me, I would have to start all over with pregnancy, healing my body, breastfeeding, diapers, sleep training, weaning, rear-facing car seats and potty training. I would undoubtedly have more “I can’t do this” moments. More wrinkles. More stretch marks. More dark circles under my eyes. But the toughest year would be over in a blink of an eye.
Logically, no one has more than two kids. People say, “Let’s have a second, so this one has a sibling,” but no one says, “Oh yes, let’s have a third, so we can buy a bigger car and a bigger house, and pay for one more college tuition.”
People have more kids because it just feels right. Because they have more love to give – and because they’ve realized with the first two that love doesn’t run out (even if money does). They have three kids because a human being matters more than a car payment or a plane ticket. They have three kids because they have faith that somehow, everything will work out. And it does.
I still don’t know if we’ll ever feel ready for you, my third-born. Maybe one day, you’ll look back at this letter and be grateful that your parents opted out of the logical route. Or maybe you won’t be here to see it. And that’s OK, too.
Nicole Radziszewski is a freelance columnist. She lives in River Forest and is a certified personal trainer and mother of two. Check Nicole out on Facebook at Facebook.com/mamasgottamove.