A couple of weeks ago a mom of 3 walked me outside to chat after a school meeting. We shared how glad we were for this school year to be coming to an end because the kids have had it hard. We talked about how much harder next year is going to be and ways our school and community of parents could help our children. Before we could make it out the gate she jokingly asked, “so when are you gonna have another one?” In haste, I replied, “I’m not!” The usual banter of you really don’t want anymore, girl? happened and I brushed that off, too.
I mentioned that she has 3 children because it seemed like after every question she asked me about new babies, she yelled at one of hers. Stop running. Stop going in and out of the car. Don’t go where I can’t see you. Don’t hit your brother. Watch your tone. I said stay where I can see you. Get that food out of my car. Are you still hungry? Stop!
My kid ran amuck with hers but I only reprimanded him 3 times which is two too many in my book. Her final inquisition about my unborn second child was interrupted by another gawk at her kids. I used that moment to say, “and that’s why I’m not having another one!” We both laughed, parted ways and I thanked God for my baby boy.
But that’s not the only reason I don’t want to have more kids. And by no means is that mom a “bad mom” for reprimanding her children. What I know to be true are my limitations. I’m a single mom running a digital business, multiple brands, and clients, and managing life for two people on floating paychecks. There have been times when I’ve had to choose between paying my cell phone bill and partially filling the refrigerator with food for the week. Peter and Paul know each other on a first name basis no thanks to me. I consider YouTube a God-send for providing endless tutorials to both save money and help me learn how to tame my natural hair. This thing is real and adding another child would be terrible for me and my Cub. Though he pines for a sibling every now and then, we have an understanding that works for just us two.
I explained this to a friend of the family about a month ago, who spent half an hour trying to coerce me into having another baby because she’d recently done it. Another mom of 3, she shared how her bubbly infant still isn’t sleeping through the night. That her other children recently warmed up to their baby brother and are finally helping with feedings and letting her sleep in late some weekends. I didn’t ask if she was in a relationship because she lost me at the not-sleeping-through-the-night part.
What I’ve yet to understand is the fascination people have with my uterus. What about seeing a mom with one child opens the conversation for a new, expensive, delicate baby? I find often that mothers of multiples, married or not, are the biggest perpetrators for egging me to “shack up” and have another baby out of wedlock. I also peep how none of them offer to help me with the child I have let alone the new one they judge me for not having.
Kids being expensive, having an already self-sufficient child, or the fact that twins run in my family are all valid reasons I could use for not wanting to birth another child. So are me being too busy to start over, being single, not wanting to be pregnant or bringing another black baby in this world. I’ve said all of these things and more. But in all honesty, I don’t think I’m equipped for the job.
To my one child, I’m a good mom, but I’m not certain I’d be able to say that with two (or more) children right now.
I work hard to give my Cub experiences and opportunities I didn’t have as a child. I work flexible hours so I can volunteer at his school at the last minute and attend every parent-child workshop his school puts on. I read pamphlets and articles and talk with other solo moms about ways to improve our children’s health. We share trials, triumphs and the latest resource we’ve found on the internet, book or in a pediatrician’s office. When I’m not drudging about like a zombie because I’ve pulled an all nighter, I do my best to get us to the park or library or grandma’s house so we can enjoy cable television for awhile. We celebrate 100’s on spelling tests with ice cream and hi-fives. These are small sacrifices — or general mom-ing — I make for the child I didn’t plan to have at 21 but now couldn’t imagine my life without. Thinking about doubling that output not only exhausts me but scares me, too.
I promised my infant son that I’d have his back past forever. That we’d do life well and in fullness. Every day we move towards living a fuller life, which feels good, and I assure you that’s because it’s just us right now. And that’s okay. So, sis:
Please stop asking me when I’m going to have another baby as if not having one is causing me and my son lack. We’re great! Please stop making the declaration that “just us” isn’t enough; we are. Please stop trying to make me feel guilty for not having more than one child. Please stop suggesting I make more babies without hoping I find true love and a committed partner first. Please stop suggesting me and my son’s dad just “pop another one out”. You don’t know our life but I can assure you that ain’t it. Please stop suggesting I become pregnant to make yourself feel better for having multiple children that are driving you nuts. Please stop asking my impressionable son, “you want a sister or brother don’t you?” It only causes mixed feelings that I have to clear up later and will curse you for. Please stop asking me to have another baby because sis, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. It’s just us and we’re doing okay.
Ariel C. Williams is the founding editor-in-chief of Slay Culture. She’s a millennial who’s down for the culture, loves Netflix, and pegs Master P as one of her entrepreneurial heroes. Buy her book The Girl Talk Chronicles here. Follow her at @ArielSaysNow everywhere.