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Wednesday December 7, 2011

Use common sense in setting family size

The choice of the number of kids a family wants is entirely its own, and not open for discussion.

DO I want a number three? It’s a Chinese thing. I have two girls, and therefore I must be hankering for a third child who will hopefully be male. Now, why would people think something silly like that? On the other side of the coin, parents with boys must face the same question: whether they’re trying for a girl next.

I think that’s a rather rude question to ask, in the same league with “Do you prefer a boy or a girl?” and the classic, “Oh, don’t worry, you can always try for a girl/boy next time.”

I enjoyed both my pregnancies, and loved the fact that I didn’t have to suck in my tummy when I wore tight-fitting clothes. Because the bump was supposed to show!

But to get pregnant again just so I don’t have to suck in and to fulfil some archaic custom that you need children of both sexes to be complete, seriously?

And I don’t need to give the whole spiel about both genders being equal and that preferring a child of one gender over the other is old-fashioned and simply wrong. We all know it.

I love boys. I have nephews whom I love, and a lot of my friends have adorable little boys. All is good. There is balance in the world. There are boys out there who will one day grow up to be good men, and my daughters may even deem them worthy as equals and partners.

But I love my girls more.

For now, I am relishing my freedom as they grow and become more independent. I can start to travel with them and not have to worry about them bawling on a long-haul flight. I can leave them to do their own thing while I do mine, even if it’s for half an hour at a time. Trust me, after you’ve been enslaved to your bundle of joy for the first two-and-a-half years of her life, that half an hour is a luxury.

I finally get my life back. Suddenly, I can sleep through the night, because my youngest now sleeps through the night. On most days, I can eat my dinner properly, without having to frantically tear meat and shovel spoonfuls of nutrition into hungry little mouths.

On most days.

If you see me out at a restaurant, I’m still the manic woman with pasta on my shirt as I try to prevent pasta from getting on my kids’ shirts. And I don’t order my own meal; I eat my kids’ leftovers. I’m sure there will come a day when I can order whatever I like and eat it in its entirety without sprouting a white hair.

I can go and catch a movie with my husband again, because the girls have realised they can live without me for three hours without breaking out in hives from separation anxiety. Although I find myself rushing back to see them after the movie, because I still break out in hives from separation anxiety.

OK, so my life is not totally mine yet, and it probably will never be. But I have achieved a semblance of normalcy. You want me to throw that away and start over again with a third baby? Not likely.

I don’t mean for the column this week to be any kind of birth control. If a third, fourth or fifth kid is in your future, go for it! Children are a blessing and a joy. I just don’t think I have it in me to be a mother of three, therefore, it’s the responsible thing to do to stop at two. Heck, some people are not even fit to be a mother of one, but that’s a discourse for another day.

And just in case there is another toe I haven’t stepped on, how about this? With the inadequacies of our education system, I have to think about private education for my kids. With the steady increase of our standard of living, and a salary scale that doesn’t seem to rise in tandem, unfortunately, I can only afford to educate two kids if I go private.

Since we’re on the subject of toe stepping, the next time you see a glowing pregnant woman, have some sense and don’t ask her if she’s expecting a boy or a girl, and don’t give her a 10-watt smile if it’s a boy and a five-watt smile if it’s a girl. Just tell her she looks great and to have a nice day. Oh, and don’t ask to touch her bump. Would you like it if random people asked to touch your bumpy bits?

Elaine Dong is happy with two and will let you know if she changes her mind. She blogs at www.angelolli.com.

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