petite anglaise

April 28, 2005

tadpole #2

Filed under: navel gazing, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 12:59 pm

I feel as though I should, by rights, be hankering after Tadpole #2 by now. The childminder certainly seems to think so: she never misses an opportunity to tell me how wonderful Tadpole is with baby Valentina, her six-month old playmate. Evidently Tadpole enjoys playing ‘mummy’, helping to administer bottles and stroking the baby’s face gently whenever she cries, cooing “qu’est-ce qui va pas, Ballon Tina?”

Very cute, I’m sure. But, for whatever reason, and despite the fact that I’ve always wanted two children, I find that I’m simply not ready.

I adored being pregnant, once the first three nauseous months were behind me. The happy hormones kicked in, and I floated through the next six on my own private MDMA cloud. Nothing could bring me down. Nobody could stress me out. Frogspawn and I were cocooned inside a cosy little bubble, insulated from the outside world, which could cease to turn, for all I cared, whenever he/she wriggled or kicked inside me.

It was a welcome change from my usual, bi-polar state, where the pendulum can swing without warning from one extreme to another, never giving Mr Frog time to run for cover.

As one of three daughters, even if I did fight tooth and nail with the sister who was closest to me in age, I do feel strongly about wanting to give Tadpole a brother or sister. Mr Frog, an only child, will never fully understand how much he has missed. Many of our recurring arguments stem from his inability to share, to put other people before himself. I don’t want Tadpole to grow up with that innate selfishness that comes of having no siblings.

But, although I am nostalgic for that blissed-out pregnant state, and do want Tadpole to have a brother or sister, I am putting it off. I can’t seem to make the leap from a vague ‘one day’ to a ‘soon’ or a ‘now’.

I can, when pressed, come up with a million convincing reasons to justify my hesitation. There’s the fact that we have to wait until next year when Tadpole starts pre-school, because we simply cannot afford full-time childcare for two children simultaneously. Giving up my job is not an option, financially speaking. Asking to work four-day weeks will already put a serious strain on our budget, if I exercise my right to do so when our second child is born.

I tell myself that I want to bide my time until Mr Frog has changed jobs (which is now hovering tantalisingly close on the horizon, due to a combination of fortuitous events) to see whether he will be on hand to help out more (or less). I cannot conceive of a life where I work full-time and also shoulder the full burden of responsibility for bringing up not one but two children. I have, unwisely, threatened Mr Frog in the past, saying that I flatly refuse to have another child until things change and I get more support from him. A pointless exercise in blackmail as it happens, as he’s in even less of a hurry than I am.

I think reasons like those could probably be more accurately described as excuses. The crux of the matter is actually that a selfish, self-centred part of me desperately wants to cling to what shreds of freedom and independence I still have left for a little longer.

I love Tadpole fiercely. But I also love the way that she can be ‘switched off’ at 8pm, leaving me time for myself, to read a book, write, surf the internet or watch a film. Even if going out is rarely an option. If I had a second, terrifyingly needy little being to tend to, that would all change for the foreseeable future. I imagine myself, exhausted, unwashed and cranky, collapsing in bed at 9pm, before Mr Frog has even shown his face, the apartment littered with dirty nappies, clothes and unwashed crockery. It’s not a very appealing scenario. It scares me. I don’t know if I can devote myself so selflessly to being a mother first, and a person, second.

What really doesn’t help, is that there is a hormonal time bomb ticking inside of me, muddling my thoughts even further, crying out that I can’t afford to wait too long. The risks to me and my hypothetical baby grow with every year that I procrastinate. But, while I would hate to look back one day, filled with regret that I did not conceive another child before it was too late, I don’t think that I should let this argument tip the balance either.

The only thing I know for certain right now is that I want Tadpole #2 to be just as desired as Tadpole #1 was. If that means biding my time, then the childminder and anyone else who has mentioned it to me will just have to hold their impatience in check.

It will happen if and when I’m good and ready.

36 Comments

  1. A very good friend of mine recently had her second child. She and her husband wanted two children so decided to ‘get it over with’ while they could. She now has a three year old and an eight month old. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look so miserable and exhausted. Of course she loves them, but says it is a complete ordeal having two such small children to look after. She’s given up work completely, although her hubby is very supportive as well and does all the shopping and cooking.

    Having said that, she says that the thought that in three years time both will be in pre-school/school is what is keeping her going. Plus they are lovely children. The oldest loves her little baby sibling.

    Have to say, I’m desperately broody, but the stories of parents is making me sit down and consider the consequences VERY seriously.

    Good luck whatever you decide to do! Maybe when Mr Frog changes his job your mindset will become more positive and ready for another upheaval.

    Comment by stressqueen — April 28, 2005 @ 1:42 pm

  2. Damn, my long and erudite post has been consigned to the interweb-ether. Gist as far as I’m concerned: don’t worry about waiting, you’ve got plenty of time to get it right; workload increases exponentially with 2, 1+1=a lot!; it’s probably worth it in the long run, but it IS hard!

    The other post was MUCH better!

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — April 28, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

  3. Oh, you’re so right to be cautious! My daughter is in similar situation to Posting 1 except that her partner likes to go away to pursue his favourite hobby alternate weekends and is never off his mobile the rest of the time. Baby 2 is breastfed and won’t take to the bottle; also he demands wine, women and song two or three times every night. She is wondering when she will make some dreadful mistake, she’s so tired. And is back at work mornings only as well… Did the Superwoman generation make a mistake?

    Comment by Hilary Temple — April 28, 2005 @ 2:02 pm

  4. Don’t let the pressure get to you, Petite – your childminder’s probably actually running a subtle marketing campaign in order to try to drum up a future source of income! ;-)

    Comment by Iain — April 28, 2005 @ 2:21 pm

  5. See what pans out with Mr Frog’s job first. You’ll need his support even more if you have two. My sister-in-law has just had her second and even though she’s a full time mum, she’s run off her feet, but my brother is supportive – he works from home, takes a lot of parental leave etc.

    You’ve got enough on your plate at the moment, you’ve got plenty of time. My sister had her first at 35, my sister-in-law at 36. And Mr Frog has to want another one too – it doesn’t sound like he’s quite ready, from what you say!

    Just my thoughts, for what they’re worth!

    Comment by witho — April 28, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

  6. Ah petite, I did exactly that! two kids two years apart, only I didn’t even think about the possible consequences. Hmm, perhaps if I did, I would have hesitated like you…sometimes ignorance is bliss!
    It’s true, the first year after #2 was born, I was completely exhausted ALL THE TIME. And that was with someone to help with the housework, ironing etc. Then around #2’s first birthday, which coincided with #1’s third, it all suddenly got a whole lot easier. The oldest started reliably using the potty, which might not seem much but it’s one less dirty bottom to change, no small thing. And #2 started walking, which meant he was a proper playmate for his big brother, who is very protective of him. It’s fantastic! I’m not saying it’s all easy now, of course not, we’re now four in a tiny one bedroom flat, and that won’t change until I go back to work in September. But hey, we manage. They’re small, and we go to the park a lot, and when we can’t well there’s toys and songs and books and colouring and Bob the Builder! And I coordinate naps so that I have ‘me time’ (You’ll notice that most of my comments are posted between 12.30 and 3pm!!)I still get to be an individual in my own right, it just needs a bit more (a LOT more, actually)organisation.
    just my tuppence worth!

    Comment by suziboo — April 28, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

  7. TWO changes everything. One ‘switches off’ and the other ‘switches on’. We have a 3 year old and a 19 month old and KNACKERED has taken on new meanings.

    On the other hand, I get to raise these two little boys, who are close enough in age to play well together (the fights also get quite interesting). I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Comment by Greg — April 28, 2005 @ 2:44 pm

  8. The last sentence in your post sums it up nicely, Petite.

    The bottom line is this…we couldn’t imagine having another child, but we can’t imagine life without the child once we had him/her.

    Comment by Bob — April 28, 2005 @ 2:55 pm

  9. Nappies. Sleepless Nights. A jedi craves not these things.

    This may go without saying, but I wanted to point out that too big a gap and you’ll just have two only children to contend with, along with their competing senses of entitlement.

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — April 28, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

  10. The difference in my life when I went from 0 children to 1 child was incredible. My entire world changed. Going from 1 child to 2 children (26 months after the first) was much easier to accept. Yes, I was tired, dealing with a newborn and a toddler. But, it was a LOT easier than I thought it would be.

    Comment by Tanya — April 28, 2005 @ 3:36 pm

  11. yes a hard disscion to make. I myself come from a family of 6.. I’m number 5. But yes it was very good to have all the brothers and sisters around. You grow up better I think, you have a better sense of sharing.
    I also understand Mr Frogs position, I have quite a few friends who are only childs, they always have an issue or difficuly in shareing or accepting arguments. That’s my feeling anyway.
    I think all in all it will be better for tadpole.

    Comment by Andy — April 28, 2005 @ 4:05 pm

  12. Was Mr Frog ready for Tadpole #1?

    Comment by Parkin Pig — April 28, 2005 @ 4:14 pm

  13. There’s never a right time for #2. Money is an issue but not neccessarily an obstacle. We had no idea how we’d make ends meet with 2 in daycare, but we’re still keeping our heads above water, although we had to forgo our annual trip to the UK this year.

    My kids are 3 1/2 years apart – so Princess was potty trained already (good) but old enough to remember when she had us to herself (bad). We almost didn’t have #2 because we had genetic issues and I kept losing pregnancies. Dear hubby was ready to give up (especially because he was thinking about the cost) , but I had labelled all Princess’ clothes and cups and blankets etc that she took to daycare with our last name only, KNOWING we would have another and I wasn’t prepared to give up on that idea. I remembered my MIL saying when DH said he thought he only wanted one: “Yes, but think of your father – HE was an only child . . . ” (He’s inflexible and selfish and totally incapable of understanding that anyone would want to live any way other than the way he lives.)

    When I had #2 I couldn’t believe how easy it was to look after a baby compared to a toddler – they sleep so much, they’re not mobile so they’re not getting into things . . . You definitely have a different perspective second time around.

    Comment by Susan — April 28, 2005 @ 4:33 pm

  14. As an only, I see vast advantages to not having siblings. Granted, I did have problems playing board games in my youth (no one else to move the pieces around); but there were vast areas that were better than my friends who had siblings.

    I’ve found that most onlies in my experience are far better at dealing with being alone and are far more independant. While there’s always the sharing issue, I didn’t even know what the word “mine” meant until I went to school and discovered that some children were incredibly possessive of their things. My mom often scolded me for giving away toys and books and things to other kids merely because they asked.

    I may have been a little spoiled but I *never* felt slighted or felt that I had to prove myself in order to gain my parents love. Of course, this may have had a lot to do with what my mom would say every time someone encouraged her to have a second child. “Why should I? I got the best I could have on the first try.”

    I think there are pros and cons to both sides, but as long as Tadpole has tons of friends her own age, and is encouraged to be giving and understanding; she should be just fine as an only. If of course you decide that’s what you want.

    Comment by Jane — April 28, 2005 @ 6:35 pm

  15. We were kind of rushed into the second child because I had cancer. Either I had him then or I’d never have another one. He was very much wanted perhaps because of that very reason.

    And I don’t think having siblings makes husbands any less like they are ;^)

    Ultimately, only you know what’s best.

    Comment by maria — April 28, 2005 @ 8:10 pm

  16. “Many of our recurring arguments stem from his inability to share, to put other people before himself.” I sooooo could have written that. Hub is an only child who almost DIED at birth, making his parents revere him even more (if that’s possible). Sometimes I wonder what the hell I got myself into. Only children just NEVER get over being the center of the universe, do they?

    Comment by AJ — April 28, 2005 @ 9:09 pm

  17. Ouch. I’m an only child and share nicely with others, thanks. It all depends on how well the parents handle the situation.

    Comment by kiki — April 28, 2005 @ 9:38 pm

  18. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Although parents are teachers for their children, the children are also teachers for their parents. When the time is right, your second “teacher” will appear. Until then, don’t worry about it… just live and enjoy!

    Comment by Lisa — April 28, 2005 @ 10:03 pm

  19. There is no ‘right’ time. Mine have 5 years btween them and it’s fun!!!

    The second one was so much easier,i managed to put her in her moses basket and walk away and shut the door and let her go to sleep by herself instead of panicking about how long should one let bb cry!!

    I am a maternity nurse and nanny and have’brought up’ numerous sprogs!!!numba 1 hard numba 2 A PIECE OF CAKE
    GOOD LUCK!

    Are you worried that tadpole is loosing her little tail and turning into a ‘baby frog’? Ribbit!!

    Mary 9 cube

    Comment by mary — April 28, 2005 @ 10:26 pm

  20. My two boys are 27 months apart and are now 7 and 9, I work full time except Wednesdays and luckily have a husband who probably does more than I do, so I’ll shut up about that part… If it were to be done again, I would have probably added a few months in there. They are very competitive and fight most of the time they are awake. It is very very tiring. THat said, I began “trying” to get pregant the second time when the older boy was 1, but it took 9 months to get it “right”.. I think it would have been worse to have them 18 months apart. Having a husband/partner who does his share helps 100%. Mine picks up the kids from the garderie at school, makes dinner, checks thehomework, get them in the shower, and when I get home, I sit down to dinner. Granted, it’s often Picard veggies and ham/eggs/burgers, but… we save the gourmet work for the weekend !

    Comment by magillicuddy — April 28, 2005 @ 10:47 pm

  21. well, I enjoy your blog very much so finally took courage to open my mouth: I had my (only) baby quite late and I did think I had to hurry and I felt having two would have been better – for each other, but discovered my husband was no support whatsoever. So I let it go for a bit, waiting for some change, but eventually decided I didn’t want to carry on totally on my own. I didn’t need to go to work but that was probably even more difficult, living as if cut off from real life. In the end I think one has babies for oneself, if you really want one, or two, get on with it! never mind Mr.Frog.

    Comment by madpole — April 28, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

  22. Here are my two cents: Don’t let yourself get scared by your memories of #1. The first time around, you had to learn everything, and you were afraid of doing something wrong. This means hard work, and stress. I think you wrote once that you still wake up at the slightest Tadpole noise.

    The second time is much easier because of, well, experience. That means you know what you’re doing, so you do it well and with less effort. And you are more prepared to accept you can’t be a perfect parent (if you don’t, then Tadpole#1 will force it on you anyway). It’s amazing how comparatively relaxed we were for #2. So much so that we went for #3, actually…

    I won’t kid you, though: It can be real hard at times. Especially on nights with one or more ill Tadpoles. And it is hardest for Mummy. Still, believe me, it’s worth it. Those moments were they laugh together, when they teach things to each other… priceless.

    Ah, and of course you’re correct: The right time is when you feel like it. You’re pretty good at analyzing your own feelings, so, I think you’ll have no trouble finding out.

    Comment by ontario frog — April 29, 2005 @ 3:19 am

  23. Just DO it. You’ll be ready when it happens. Financially, physically and emotionally one CAN NEVER BE READY. You will make a plan when you have to. You have my permission to shut your eyes and wish (and of course forget to pop the pills…). ;)

    Comment by Valkyrie — April 29, 2005 @ 9:20 am

  24. I also feel rather strongly about wanting my little girl to have a sibling. My other half, like yours, is an only child, and while I wouldn’t call him selfish, he just doesn’t “get” the bond I have with my brother and sister.

    The thing is, I wonder if I want a second child for the sake of my little girl having a sibling more than I want a second child in itself. We’ll see…

    Comment by Isabella — April 29, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

  25. I agree with Valkyrie : “ne te pose pas trop de questions”, otherwise you’ll never get round to it. There will always be a reason preventing you from having another.
    The older your first child gets, the less you will feel like plunging back into all the nappies, bottles, broken nights etc.
    However hands-on (or not) your partner may be, it is true that the Mummy shoulders most of the responsibility – sometimes only Mum will do whenthey wake up sick in the night…
    My second one was an accident : I would never have decided to have the second one only 8 months after giving birth to the first. However, a year and a half down the line, although exhausted and broke, I am delighted with my “Irish twins” and feel a real sense of achievement every evening when they finally go to bed and I can sit down. People adapt to anything.

    Comment by Smartie — April 29, 2005 @ 4:56 pm

  26. Very moving. You are right to wait, and, knowing what you know from M Frog, you can take steps to see that Tadpole doesn’t develop the same mental defaults. Is there a cousin with whom she could spend the summer a few years down the road, for example, without your being on hand to run to?

    I also think that you’re right to wait for more enthusiasm from M Frog. I suspect that he needs to be seduced into growing up a bit – and there’s nothing seductive about the full-time company of an infant. While a second child will probably be easier for you, it will be less fascinating for him, unless (I fear) you have a boy.

    Ouch! Leaning on this picket fence dispensing advice has made me all blotchy!

    Comment by R J Keefe — April 29, 2005 @ 7:40 pm

  27. I have three children two girls 12 & 13 (20 months apart) and a 6 year old boy, it was hard with the girls being so close in age but now they are both into similar things. I thought it would easier with the last one but he is rather challenging due to a disability.

    In my experience I have found that most men simply do not have the maternal or nurturing ability and are biologically ill equipped when it comes to child rearing. Most men are happy to have children, but are definitely way down the scale when it comes to support and personal involvement on a daily basis, and they certainly don’t take kindly to infringement upon their freedom, hobbies and interests. Life changes little for men when children come along, but drastically for women.

    If you feel that you could cope with another child and would be prepared to put in most of the work then fine, if not, it certainly is a daunting prospect of bringing up two young children with limited support from your partner.

    In saying that I would like to add, that having three children is something I chose to do and I do not regret having any of them, despite having limited support. Their baby years are relatively short in comparison to a lifetime, its hard work, but its worth it.

    You sound to me to be a very grounded, sensitive individual, go with your spiritual instincts, you can gather all the thoughts and advice in the world, but at the end of the day only you know in your heart what is right for you.

    Comment by tia — April 30, 2005 @ 12:16 am

  28. Another reason to stall: my sister, who studied family development, told me the experts say it’s best to have kids 4+ yrs apart. That, and being of different gender (as if you can control that), are the optimal conditions for sibs to get along and parents to cope.

    Besides, you’re good to go until around 35-36. (Or more. Look at all the celebs who’ve been having their healthy first at 39-40.) There’s no pressure; just wait if you like.

    Comment by jin-ah — April 30, 2005 @ 4:52 am

  29. Two things:
    1. Great that Tadpole is good with the baby at the childminders – but that’s a place where she’s used to sharing the adult attention with another child or children; home isn’t, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that she will always be loving and caring with a baby who takes some of your attention, and Mr Frog’s, away from her.
    2. Terrific news about Mr Frog’s job – I’ve got my metaphorical fingers crossed!

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — April 30, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  30. Dear Petite,

    You have gone baby crazy. For the last couple of weeks, posts have been largely about tadpoles and false marriages. Let’s get the old PA back… more bitch, titch and ipod shuffling… over pierced bloated bellies, wet kisses and babytalk. You know I adore you, so just take this with a grain of salt, and not some dried pablum.

    Comment by nardac — April 30, 2005 @ 1:16 pm

  31. oh nardac, it’s what my life revolves around, what do you expect?!

    I probably need to get out more!

    Comment by petite — April 30, 2005 @ 2:57 pm

  32. It was great meeting you and Tadpole, who is absolutly exquisite – may i say that ? – and very strong minded, I can testify. I really enjoyed visiting the market with her ! ehehe !

    Comment by Negrito — April 30, 2005 @ 6:52 pm

  33. Maybe one day you can go on an “incrusting” expedition with me. I’m sure we’d have good laughs. But I sympathise with your life… sometimes it’s just lovely to watch milk froth and bubble.

    Comment by nardac — May 1, 2005 @ 5:09 am

  34. nardac – be careful because I will take you up on it (I was too drunk to join you after the blogmeet but I really wanted to!)

    Comment by petite — May 1, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

  35. Agree that it can be better to leave a few years gap – there may be less jealousy, and it’s easier for the parents. At the end of the day, if you don’t feel it’s the right time (but is there ever a right time?), you should wait. You’re certainly young enough – am facing the dilemma of being 37 with a 20 month old, and thinking it’s now or never, although I would like to spend a few more months just enjoying his company before all hell breaks loose again. Have to say that I don’t agree with Tia – there are plenty of men out there who are very supportive and involved with their children on a day-to-day basis, and who are happy to temporarily shelve their hobbies during the after all relatively few early childhood years. Mothers also need to take a step back and allow them to get more involved.

    Comment by annie — May 3, 2005 @ 8:58 am

  36. Just a couple of thoughts from an “ancien”.

    The sooner you complete your family, the sooner they will fly the nest and leave you to play!

    Parental energy levels decrease with age!!

    From my experience, siblings with much more than a 3 year age gap do not seem to have the same close bond, which is a shame.

    But, always do what feels right for you.

    Comment by Keith — May 3, 2005 @ 7:06 pm


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