A number of my friends recently shared an article on Facebook about the sadness and loss that women feel when they are finished having kids — “the void.”
The article stopped me in my tracks because my experience could not be more different.
I’ve heard this same spiel from friends, who still long for a sweet baby to cuddle. I’ve heard it from friends who swear they are done but still have boxes of baby clothes and gear in their attics. And I’ve definitely heard it from my friends as we fight over holding a new baby.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think babies are the cutest and sweetest. But at this point, I love them most when I can hand them back to their parents! I love my two kids, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, except possibly on the days when they can’t stop the bickering.
But, I knew when I was pregnant with my second – before she was even born – that our family was complete. My husband and I both agreed and basically had no doubts. And now that my feisty redhead is almost four, I don’t know how we’d begin to handle another little one.
This is the only decision in my entire indecisive life that I have not reconsidered, over-analyzed or doubted.
I happily passed on baby clothes as soon as my kids outgrew them. There’s no baby gear left in our house. And while I sometimes long for simpler days, I truly celebrate each milestone as my children grow.
So is there something wrong with me for not feeling “the void”? Am I too self-centered? Am I not a good mother? Do I not love my kids enough?
I tell myself that none of that is true-– that I am simply ready for the next chapter. Sometimes I believe that God has granted me peace on this decision, letting me know I’m doing the right thing. On my really enlightened days, I tell myself I am a modern woman not dictated by biology.
Maybe it’s because I always had trouble picturing myself as a mom or because I was an only child, but I’m happy for more opportunities to create an identity outside of “mom.” While being a mother will always be my first and most important job, I think there are other callings out there for me. I think I have more to give to my community and to my children’s future.
I think it is important for my children – especially my daughter – to see me achieving goals whether it is at work or in the gym or organizing the school book fair. I finished grad school when my youngest was not yet two, and I look forward to reminding my kids of that whenever they say school is too hard!
I respect that everyone’s experience is unique, and I certainly don’t judge those whose hearts tell them to have more kids or who miss having a little one.
But, don’t let “the void” cause you to miss out on the joy of today. Don’t let it stop you from taking on new challenges and following your own dreams – whatever that may be.
As for me, the only babies in my house will be my daughter’s dolls. And I’m totally fine with that.
Sara Lang has worked in North Carolina politics at the state, federal, and local levels for more than 15 years. A communications consultant, she lives in Cary with her husband, two young children, and a pampered dog.