To mamas known and mamas unknown. This post is for you.
I’ve wanted to write this for a while, for mamas undecided, for mamas who aren’t quite sure whether they’re done having kids or not.
So mamas? Let’s chat about this question that’s pressing on your heart…
How will I know when I’m done having kids?
But before we get started, I want to take time to acknowledge special groups of mamas out there because this post may or may not be for you.
For mamas who have grieved the loss of an infant or child, I hear your cries, I feel your pain, your longing to see, touch your baby just one more day. This post may or may not be for you.
For mamas who are experiencing infertility, who have tried for months, years to conceive? I pray you will be blessed with child. This post may not be for you.
For mamas who have been called to adopt, and are in the seemingly never-ending waiting process, bless your soul. You inspire me. This post may not be for you.
For mamas who are unable to bear children of your own, can’t afford adoption or infertility treatments, or are “too old” to be considered a candidate for such things, but long for a child to love? My heart goes out to you. I pray that God will work a miracle, I pray He’ll place children in your life through other means, and that those children will bring you great joy and fulfillment. This post may or may not be for you.
For mamas who whole-heartedly embrace natural family planning, for those who hope to bear as many children as the Lord will provide until He carries you gently into menopause? You are amazing and an inspiration as well. This post may not be for you.
For mamas who became pregnant due to rape, incest, sexual abuse, prostitution or trafficking, and you’ve made the incredible decision to birth, raise or place this child for adoption? May peace and blessings be poured out on your life. May you find the freedom and healing you need. Press on mama. You are incredibly brave. This post may not be for you.
For mamas of children who have special needs, who have to weigh and measure your decision to have more children NOT based on your heart of hearts, but on your reality of caring for your child with special needs? You are precious, a rare gem. Follow your heart, trust your instincts, take your time, and engage God, medical professionals, therapists, and those closest to you about your decision to have more children or not. Whatever decision you make, it will be the right one for you and your family. This post may or may not be for you.
For mamas who have a history of abortion, who want to heal, overcome, create, birth and raise a little life someday, but aren’t ready, aren’t sure, aren’t feeling worthy of the call to be mama? This post may not be for you.
For mamas in other special circumstances – pregnant in your teens, pregnant in your forties, pregnant after years of infertility treatments, living in extreme poverty, living with mental illness or a significant medical condition, living amidst chronic trauma? This post may or may not be for you.
For all you mamas who KNOW you’re NOT done having kids, awesome. This post may not be for you (yet).
So who is this post for?
This post is for any mama who’s debating…
How will I know when I’m done having kids?
Let me tell you a quick story. Our two oldest children are 11 and 9 years old. Our “baby” is 2 years old. So there’s nearly seven years between our second and third child. During those years in-between baby two and three, there were a couple things that made us question whether we should have more children. I sought answers, I sought wise counsel, and I wasn’t sure how to answer when people asked if we were done having kids. The truth was, I didn’t have confidence I was “done,” and my husband was willing to consider having another. So while the questions still lingered, our biological clocks were ticking. Finally, we committed to pray hard about it for one week. We felt led to try for a third child and became pregnant within months. Our third child has been a significant blessing for our entire family, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. But now I’m 100% confident that we’re done having kids.
So I thought I’d share with you today what that looks like, what that feels like…to know, to be confident that you’re DONE having kids.
Here are 11 signs you MIGHT be done having kids…
1) You just KNOW you’re done having kids. Yes, you just know. This is hard to describe, but is the best all-around indicator that you’re done. It’s a feeling of complete clarity.
2) When another mama announces she’s pregnant, you’re happy for her, but her announcement doesn’t compel you to have another child yourself. In other words, other mamas’ pregnancies don’t stir in you a desire to become pregnant anymore.
3) When your “baby” is still your baby, and other “babies” her same age are becoming big brothers and sisters? And it hasn’t even crossed your mind to give your “baby” a baby brother or sister? And you don’t have any plans to give your “baby” a baby brother or sister any time in the future? Ya, you might be done having kids.
3) Maybe you’re the kind of mama who loved being pregnant. You still admire pregnant mamas’ beautiful, round bellies and glowing skin, and maybe you’d even choose to be pregnant again (just the pregnancy part). But you can’t quite picture yourself doing that newborn stage all over again, and you can’t picture yourself doing another round of middle of the night feedings, and you can’t picture yourself going through any of that all over again.
4) You remember labor and delivery all too well. You haven’t forgotten. In fact, you remember that last labor and delivery quite vividly. You promised yourself you’d never do this again! And you’re still confident. You won’t ever do that again.
5) When other mamas give birth and bring that little babe home, you’re glad to greet, hold and help with the baby, but not so quick to want to step in their shoes.
6) When it’s time to start putting away the baby stuff, you realize it’s actually time to get rid of it. And for the most part, you have no problem selling it, donating it, or giving it to someone. In fact, when any of your kids grow out of anything, you want to get rid of it right away, because you’re just ready to move beyond this baby, toddler, little kiddo clutter.
7) You’re willing to consider longer-term and/or permanent options for birth control. (Yes, I know this is a private, sensitive and potentially controversial subject, but I’ve seen many age/stage peers discuss this openly within a trusted group of friends when they know they’re done having kids. So I’m confident this is a significant sign.)
8) Your own dreams as a woman start moving to the forefront again. You look at where you’ve been, you look ahead at what’s to come, and the years flash before you. Time is ticking in a different way than before you had children. Life is only so long. So as much as you adore your children, you also know you need space to pursue the desires of your heart, space to make your way again.
9) You’re suddenly open to expanding your definition of “motherhood” to include children you engage with at work, in the neighborhood, at church, at family gatherings, and anywhere else you can get your hands on kids to fulfill those motherly instincts and desires you have. You don’t have to be everyone’s mother to be satisfied; being a motherly figure is just fine with you now.
10) You start daydreaming, just a little bit, of becoming a grandmother. And it sounds awesome, even better than motherhood. You know this isn’t the end. More than likely, you’ll have an opportunity to grand-mother your own grandkids or someone else’s grandkids down the road.
11) On good days, you feel perfectly in control of the children you have. Everything’s dandy. On bad days, you feel like you’re barely maintaining control of the children you have. And in the midst of very bad moments, you feel like you’re hanging on by a shoestring; you could truly use a little help. In your heart of hearts, you know that if you had one more child, you wouldn’t be able to care for your children the way you want to. Just the thought of that makes you very, very sad. Reality sets in. THIS. is the number of kids I’m supposed to have. You love your kids. You want to care and nurture your children to the best of your ability. And you want the best for your kids. You also know how much work it is to raise human beings, how much effort it takes to be a mother on call 24/7. So you know, this decision is for the best. It’s time to be done having kids. Because you want to love the children you’ve been blessed with oh so much.
So mamas, I’m not a psychologist, a doctor, or a child development researcher. And I’m certainly not God. But I am a mama. So mama to mama, heart to heart, I ask you to consider the points above and make your way accordingly. If you’re torn and confused, pray about it. The answer will become much more clear.
This isn’t so much a science as it is a matter of the heart.
Be gentle with yourself, mama. God has a plan for you and your family.
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THIS POST:
I’m aware of the sensitive nature of this post. I could have easily written this post with a snarky, comedic tone. But that is not my nature. Rather, I have been careful to approach this subject with due diligence and honor, knowing there are many different views on child bearing.
I am also fully aware that I neglected to address fathers’ influence and involvement in this post. Obviously, fathers are critical to this discussion. My decision to keep fathers out of this post (for the most part) does not in ANY WAY downplay their significance in parenting or decision making. My desire was for this post to be written for a mama’s heart. Dads, if you would like to hear a dad’s opinion on this matter, perhaps I can talk my husband into writing a similar post from a male perspective?!
The 11 points I listed in this post do not represent every woman’s experience. But I wanted to put something out in the blogosphere for the woman who’s seeking answers to this age old question. How will I know I’m done having kids? I hope and pray this post lands on the screen of the souls who need it most.
If this post finds you in the midst of questioning, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to chat it through with you in a more “intimate” setting. I’m honored to say I’ve walked one mama through this questioning, and she and her husband ultimately decided to have a fourth child, a decision they have clearly delighted in to this day.