I don’t want another child

There are big and small love building sites. He snores – not nice, but a reason to break up? Not really. However, what happens when an otherwise happy couple disagrees about having children? That’s the case with Tina and Tom. They already have a child, but Tom wants another one, but Tina doesn’t… Can love overcome that? Tina describes her point of view.

When we got rid of our nappy bucket two years ago, it was a groundbreaking moment for me: nappy era over, I thought triumphantly – and toasted the occasion with a glass of wine with my husband. But Tom just sighed deeply and said, “Oh, maybe we should have put it in the attic instead…” I looked at him questioningly, “But what for?” He replied, “You never know… Maybe we’ll feel like having a second child after all…” “But darling, we only wanted one,” I replied, still thinking at the time of a once-in-a-lifetime moment. 

However, as soon as we saw a newborn baby, he held the little clothes in his hands that had become too small for Emilia, or when our daughter started kindergarten – often there were those meaningful sighs that were meant to express nothing other than: “Don’t we want another one after all?” Not that I don’t have my moments, for example, when I watch videos of a much younger edition of our daughter as she swings chubby-cheeked through the world. But for me it’s more like benevolent nostalgia. Because the fact is: we agreed that we only wanted to have one child. Everyday life with a child has only strengthened my resolve. 

Tom apparently didn’t because it didn’t stop at sighs. He now openly says that he wants another child. Each time I ask him: “Have you forgotten what we agreed and, above all, how unbelievably exhausting the first months and years were?” I haven’t. The birth, the first painful breastfeeding, the colic, the all-nighters. No time for sex, good conversations, cooking together, not going out with friends for so long – instead, children’s screams as background noise. And then, when our daughter could finally go to daycare and I could return to my job, Corona threw a spanner in the works. I, of course, was the one who backed out again. 

“I want to have sex like I used to – not with the aim of missing my period!”

Now before you get the wrong impression here: I am not a candidate for ”Regretting Motherhood“. I think it’s great to be a mum. This warm love I feel for my daughter can’t be compared to anything else. I could list thousands of beautiful moments with her. And I don’t even want to miss the downsides. Before I became a mother, I could not imagine that I would gain so much from this new life: self-confidence, strength, joy of life, self-knowledge, gratitude.

But: I am happy the way things are NOW and want everything to stay that way. I enjoy my little family and feel no need in me to become a mother again. I don’t want any more porridge talks, no more tough mornings without an adult to talk to and no more frantic sweats just because my child’s crying stresses me out. 

But most of all, I love having myself and my husband back. Sure, Emilia is a part of us forever, she always will be. But to be able to live a bit of our own life again, to be a couple again – that feels so good. All the little freedoms that come with Emilia going her own way, having dates, playing in her room, I don’t want to miss them anymore. I ask Tom: “Don’t you notice that we’re talking more again, laughing together, teasing each other and kissing? “I missed that. I want to have sex like I used to and not with the aim of hopefully missing my period”

I also like the mornings when I work in the office again now. I like the concentrated work, the contact with colleagues, being able to check off tasks constructively. It gives me strength and I have little shivers of longing for my daughter and look forward to picking her up from childcare. I’m afraid of blaming a second child for having given up this freedom again.

Of course, I talk about it with my friends and at least I don’t seem to be completely alone in my attitude. Maybe we need to ask ourselves in general why some women don’t want any more children.  Besides the individual reasons, society still does not make it easy for us women to reconcile work and motherhood. It is still assumed that the mother takes on the primary responsibility. It is also said: “Children need their mother more than their father in the first few years. Tom says he would help me where he can – and I believe him – but it is my body that would have to go through the second pregnancy, my job that I would put on hold again, my career that is on hold. We couldn’t afford it the other way round. Tom is the one who pays off the flat and handles most of the finances. In the middle of the rush hour of life, he’s going full throttle, while for me it would be standstill again.

“What if the longing for the child is greater than our love?”

The child question has become more and more explosive to our relationship. I often ask myself: aren’t Emilia and I enough for him? Surely, we are two good reasons to be contented in life? Tom says yes, but at the same time he says that four is also a nice number for a family. And when I see how loving he is with Emilia, it worries me that I am denying him the opportunity to be a wonderful father to another child. He always says, “Never say never. Maybe in three years you’ll change your mind and suddenly want another child…” Maybe. But I don’t want to live with this expectation and know that he is constantly hoping that I will change my mind.

I have now suggested to go to couples’ therapy. And he has agreed. Let’s see what that does. My biggest fear is that this disagreement will break up our relationship. I once read that in many cases this kind of thing leads to separation. If not immediately, then after a few years. Because it is difficult to let go of the longing for a child. It is only suppressed. I hope that our love will conquer everything – but at the same time I’m afraid that Tom’s desire for a child will be greater in the long run than the greatest love.

Awina is the partner for young parents in the Rush Hour of Life. It supports families in this challenging phase of life and advocates for a better work-life balance.