Alright, you might be thinking, Shannon, it’s none of mine or anyone else’s business as to why you’ve chosen not to have any more children! And while you’re right, I want to share why I’m not having any more kids because I know that many moms struggle with the decision of whether or not to have more kids, or to even have kids at all. There are lots of societal pressures that are put on women to have children… Whether it’s "just" one, or two, or more. And I want all women to be okay and at peace with having one child, or not having any at all!
So, truth be told, I always said that I’d never have kids. And I can remember saying this as a teenager and all through my twenties. And although a big part of it was because there were many other things at the forefront of my life, I also think a big part of it was fear. Becoming a mom? Ehh, could I “handle” it? Being a mom seemed really hard and like a whole ton of work! And especially when I was struggling with panic disorder and agoraphobia, I couldn’t even imagine tackling being a mom while struggling at the same time.
I just want to take a moment and extend a quick shout out for all of the parents out there who are struggling with their mental health. I know that it often feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, and like you aren’t doing a good job, but you are doing a good job. You are an amazing parent, struggles and all!
Okay, so when me and Adam started having conversations about our future and what we both wanted in life, luckily we both landed on… If we do have kids, we’ll have one! And a quick side note, I think it’s really important to have this conversation with your partner. Like, what do you both want in life? What are your goals? What do you want your future to look like? How many kids do you want to have? These things are huge things that will ultimately impact and shape your relationship.
Alright, are you ready for this? Big truth bomb here! Adam and I didn’t quite make the decision to have a child. Yup, Amelia wasn’t exactly planned. And thankfully she wasn’t because I don’t know that I ever would have arrived at a place of... Ya know what, I’m ready to have a child now! I was 31-years-old when I had Amelia. And just to put it bluntly, 31 years of being a woman didn’t prepare me for becoming a mom! People often say that being a mom is the hardest job you’ll ever have, but like anything else, you have no perspective until you actually step into the role. I can now confirm that being a mom is in fact the hardest job I’ve ever had.
It is so much work! And looking back now, I can remember feeling really overwhelmed with pregnancy and labor, but pregnancy and labor had nothing on what happened after I actually gave birth! And I delivered naturally. Yup, not an ounce of medication!
The first year of Amelia’s life was undoubtedly one of the hardest years of my life. There were so many things that I had to learn! Like the basics of how to take care of a newborn, and how to breastfeed, and how to function while having a newborn essentially strapped to me 24/7. And many of these things are things that you can’t really just open a book to figure out, like it just has to develop with practice and time.
And I lacked sleep, like a sleep deprivation that I never knew existed! And sleep has always been a huge priority and love of mine, and I often don’t feel well if I don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep at night. And trust me, I wasn’t getting 7 hours of sleep at night when Amelia was a newborn! And on top of my own lack of sleep, I often worried about whether or not Amelia was getting enough sleep, especially during sleep regressions… You know, the moments people often don’t talk about. I feel like every picture or video I have ever seen that has a newborn baby in it, the baby is sleeping and looks so peaceful and happy. Yeah, this isn’t reality.
And I say all of this, acknowledging the fact that Amelia was a good sleeper! And she always has been. But as a newborn, she of course had to be fed in the middle of the night, and changed, and consoled. And then with each new stage of her development, it seemed as though she very intentionally resisted sleep. I read blogs, and books, and listened to podcasts to try to "figure it out." And by the time she was around a year and a half old, it all went out the window and she’s been sleeping with me and Adam ever since. Something we both said we’d never allow. And, welcome to parenthood!
I also often worried about whether or not she was getting enough milk, or if she was growing how she should, or if she was getting the right amount of “activities” to support her learning and growth, or if a particular cry meant that it was something more than her just needing a diaper change or to be fed. And when she got sick, well, that brought on a whole bunch of challenges and worries! And honestly, just the day-to-day demands of taking care of a little one, while still taking care of yourself, is incredibly draining! Almost every decision that I made each day revolved around her and her wellbeing.
And for me, maternity leave was so hard. I was so used to going into an office every day and working a 9 to 5 job. And all of a sudden, I was at home every day with a newborn who didn’t talk, or walk, and consumed every ounce of me. I can remember feeling so isolated at times. And if I could go back, I would have reached out and asked for much more support. I would have shared more of what I was feeling and experiencing. But being a new mom, I felt like I had to figure it out for myself. And honestly, I felt like I had to prove something to myself. Like I could do it all on my own and I didn’t need any help.
I’ll do a future episode on becoming a new mom, but I just want to say this now… If you are a new mom, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. And you don’t have to prove anything to yourself, or to anyone else. Nobody is meant to be on the motherhood journey alone. So use your support system. Ask for help! Doing so will only make you stronger.
And before my husband hears this episode and says, um, what about me? I was right there with you! I want to give him a shout out because he did an amazing job of supporting me through it all (and he continues to). And I never took his support and just presence for granted. I know that many people don’t have a supportive partner when they become a parent, and I am just so grateful that I’ve had Adam to help me navigate becoming a mom. He is so caring, loving, supportive, and patient. And honestly, I wouldn’t have gotten through the first year of Amelia’s life without him by my side.
Real quick, let's jump into what things looked like after maternity leave! After maternity leave, I had to figure out how to balance going back to work full-time while being a new mom. It was so hard! From feeling tired, to pumping while at work, to being consumed by guilt from being away from Amelia all day, to getting home and only being able to spend a half hour or so with Amelia before having to put her to bed, the overwhelm and hard continued. And the culture in America isn’t necessarily supportive to new moms returning to the workplace. And something that is still incredibly tough for me, dropping Amelia off a daycare! In 3 years, I have never gotten used to it. Thankfully I’ve always had a safe and loving daycare to bring Amelia to, but it’s a very unnatural feeling dropping your child off with a person that isn’t a loved one (and I’m sure even with a loved one). Because it’s simply not you.
And on top of all of that (because all of that isn't enough, right), I had to navigate my marriage after having a child. And this brought on it’s own set of challenges. You have to find balance. Like how you can still connect with your spouse now that there’s another human in your lives that literally depends on you for everything. And how to have good communication, and still keep the romance, and just have basic conversations that don’t revolve around your child.
So have I talked you out of having children, or more children, yet? My relatives and friends always say, if you want honesty on what it’s like to become a mom, ask Shannon! But seriously, I wish somebody would have clued me in on even half of it! But even if they did, I truly don’t think you can make sense of it or really understand what becoming a parent is until you become a parent yourself.
And yes, don’t get me wrong, being a parent is also rewarding, and joyful, and fun at times, but the good stuff doesn’t exactly eliminate all of the really hard stuff. So don’t let those photos of sleeping newborns and laughing/smiling toddlers fool you!
Needless to say, there are so many reasons why me and my husband know that it’s best for us not to have any more children! And I’m going to share all of the reasons with you in just a couple of minutes, but the main reason for me is that being a mom is really hard and really stressful for me, and honestly, I just don’t want to sign up for that type of hard again! Being a mom takes a lot out of you physically, mentally, and emotionally. From pregnancy, to the delivery, to post-partum, to navigating each stage of your child’s life.
So last Christmas, my husband had a vasectomy. Yep, we made it permanent! Making a permanent decision not to have any more children when I'm perfectly able to was such a weird and hard decision to make (even though we both knew that it’s what we wanted)! And I didn’t expect it to be, but it was super emotional! After my husband got the procedure, I immediately thought… Why the heck did we just do that? I cried, and questioned myself and our choice, but deep down I felt the same way that I did before Adam got the procedure. I don't want to have any more kids!
So when people say… But you have to have another child! Amelia can’t be an only child! You can just imagine how I’m feeling internally.
Let me share with you some of the glorious reasons that people have shared with me as to why I have to have “just one more!”
- “Because Amelia needs a sibling.”
- “Because you don’t want to put the burden of taking care of you and Adam on Amelia when you get older.”
- “Otherwise Amelia will be an “only child” and “a brat.”
- “Because it’ll make it easier on you having at least two, they’ll entertain each other.”
And, I want to dive into these a little because although they seem like really logical reasons for some, they are far from logical when you really think about it!
Let’s start with… “Because Amelia needs a sibling.”
Does Amelia actually need a sibling? No, she doesn't need a sibling. Although siblings can add lots of love and joy, kids don’t need to have siblings in order to exist and excel in life. There are many, many people that don’t have siblings that have happy, joyful, and successful lives.
“Because you don’t want to put the burden of taking care of you and Adam on Amelia when you get old.”
The reality is that Amelia will have family and friends that will help to support us and her when we’re older. Plus, I’m raising her to be one smart and powerful little girl that will grow into an amazing woman who will be able to ask for help and support when she needs it! And also, having one child helps us to make financially sound decisions so that Amelia doesn’t have to worry about financial burdens when we’re older.
“Otherwise Amelia will be an only child and a brat.”
My simple answer to this one is… Will she be a brat? Nope, not if I raise her well!
“Because it’ll make it easier on you having at least two!”
Will it in fact make it easier on me? No, absolutely not! Is having twins harder than having one? Yes. Is having two dogs more work than one? Yes. Sure, two kids can play with each other and keep each other entertained at times, but that doesn’t take all of the hard parts about being a parent away.
I want to really dive in and share with you the real and raw reasons why I’m not having another child, because I have absolute peace with my decision and I hope that I can provide that to you, too, especially if you’re feeling pressure to have a child or “just one more.”
Reason number one… I’m choosing to protect my mental health and my peace by not having another child. I used to compare myself to other moms and think, Why is it so hard for me and seemingly not so hard for them? And yes, the comparison game is so unhealthy and not helpful, but I played it often. But now, I can see very clearly that it’s okay that it’s hard for me. Just the fact that I’m able to be honest about this and recognize that it’s hard is huge.
And just because it’s hard for me doesn’t mean that I can't “handle” it or that I’m not good at it (because let’s be real, I am an amazing mom). But like I said earlier, being a parent is a lot of work and it’s hard, and I just don’t want to do it all over again. But I think a big reason why it’s so hard is because being a mom isn’t a huge passion of mine. Yup, I said it! And I kind of can’t believe I’m saying it because I felt for so long that it was wrong for me to feel that way. But it’s not wrong, and it’s absolutely okay that I feel the way I do. Sure, I love being Amelia’s mom, but it’s not all that I love. I have a lot of passions in life and I want to have the bandwidth to pursue all of them!
If this one particularly resonates with you, I want you to know that it’s okay if being a parent isn’t your biggest passion. This doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. It’s absolutely okay to have passions outside of being a parent! And it’s absolutely okay, and necessary, to make decisions that will protect you and your mental health.
Reason number two and very simply put… Amelia is enough. Amelia brings me so much joy, and I feel extremely fulfilled in the mom department. I don’t feel that I need to add another child to the mix to add more joy or happiness to my life, and this is a very peaceful place to be. And like with any other relationship in life, having a child can’t make you happy. Children can support and add to your happiness, but you don’t have children to make you happy. And you especially don’t have children to “fix” your relationship with yourself, or to fix your relationship with a significant other.
Reason number three… Having a child is expensive! Like really expensive. And some might say that this is a selfish one, but it’s not. Sure, Adam and I could afford to have another child, but honestly, I want to spend my money on things other than kid stuff! And you know what, this is okay. And also, being financially stressed is a huge contributor of anxiety for many people, and I think it’s incredibly important to recognize and evaluate the financial impacts of having a child. To give some perspective, we spend close to a thousand dollars a month on daycare. This is essentially like having another mortgage. And this is just our daycare expense, never mind all of the other expenses that come along with having a child! And you know what, your financial decisions are yours and only yours, so don’t let anyone tell you that finances aren’t a factor to consider when having a child.
Reason number four… I’m an adventurer, and it’s really important to me that I’m able to go on adventures and travel. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t be an adventurer and have kids, because you absolutely can, but it’s definitely a little trickier and a little bit more challenging. I know because we try to take Amelia everywhere we can. Whether it be hiking, or skiing, or traveling. And the truth for me is, doing these things with her is harder, and sometimes it takes some of the enjoyment out of the experience. And this statement might be a little shocking to some, but being an adventurer and a mom is equally as important to me. I love both and this is okay. I’m an amazing mom that can care deeply about other things outside of being a mom! Speaking of…
Onto reason number five… I have many goals outside of being a mom, like helping people to overcome panic disorder and agoraphobia and traveling the world! And the reality is, I know that I can’t do it all, nor do I want to feel burnt out and drained every day. Juggling working full-time and being a mom is hard, so I very consciously choose where and what I want to dedicate my time to. This really goes back to prioritizing my mental health and protecting my peace.
Overall, I want you to really hear me on this one… Whatever your decisions are, they are yours. In moments where you’re questioning yourself or your decisions, get quiet and really listen to yourself. What do you hear? What do you feel? What’s that inner voice of yours saying? Listen to it! Because trusting in yourself will lead to good things, like more peace and the belief that you carry so much wisdom.
And to heck with what other people think when it’s relating to your life your choices! Don’t let other people’s expectations of you or your life dictate the decisions you make!
And I give you my permission to share any of these reasons (if they apply) with anyone who tells you that you have children, even if it’s “just” one more! But even better, I give you permission to simply say... I’m not looking for advice, and I’d really appreciate it if you respected my boundaries and didn’t talk about this topic with me.
I really hope that this episode has been helpful for you, especially if you struggle with whether or not to have children or to have more children. And rest assured, I’ll be sprinkling in my motherhood journey into this podcast and sharing more helpful tips and words of wisdom relating to being a mom!
Alright, until next time, keep taking healthy action (and this includes protecting your peace)!