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Conversation overheard at a bus stop made me feel like a total wuss!

(18 Posts)
arabella2 Tue 10-Feb-04 12:37:11

I have one ds who is 26 months old and another baby on the way due at the end of March. I am 35 years old and feeling a little knackered! Definitely looking forward to meeting the baby but also to getting my body back and keeping it mine thereafter - ie. no more babies. I used to think I wanted three, and who knows, maybe I will again, but at the moment I think after two it will be time to love the two we have got madly and also get on with my own life when they go to school etc...
Then there I was at a bus stop yesterday listening to a conversation between a woman who must have been about 40 years old and two 19 year old girls. They were comparing size of family and it really put me to shame. The 40 year old had something like 10 sisters and 2 brothers and even the 19 year old of a different generation had something like 5 brothers and 2 sisters...
I suppose in my defense for feeling knackered with almost 2 is that the mothers must have started having kids a lot younger (like around 18) and also must have had more extended family help around??? Also, all those kids must have entertained each other with the big ones looking after the little ones. It must have been a really different life with much less emphasis on drop ins etc... and more on just playing with your brothers and sisters and life at home. I can't help feeling though that those mothers must have been totatlly selfless...

handlemecarefully Tue 10-Feb-04 12:45:35

Arabella,I could have written your post. I'm like you 35 years old (36 in May), one dd who is 18 months and expecting a son in April. I had wanted three...but have recently concluded (reluctantly) 'no', since otherwise I will be 'too old' (for career change etc) by the time the youngest is at school. Think I'm making the right decision but feel some sense of loss over it though!

I suspect child rearing was probably easier a generation or so ago when there was an extended family on hand to pitch in....rather than dispersed family as now

Furball Tue 10-Feb-04 12:46:09

Just goes to show different strokes for different folks and all that. Each to their own I say, personally I've only got 1 and thats the way Dh and I want it. I do think large families sound great but feel sad for the older ones who get 'roped' in to looking after the younger ones, wheres the fun in that?

Clarinet60 Tue 10-Feb-04 12:47:53

I don't think it's selfish to stop at two, arabella. I've stopped at two and although another would be nice (arggghh, no!!!!), I'd rather do two well, ITSWIM. I know that I'm spreading myself pretty thinly at the moment, and there are only so many hours in the day. Lots of people with big families manage to make time for everyone, but I don't think I fit that category. I also know people who've come from big families and who don't feel special at all, in fact, they feel insignificant. I know nobody on mumsnet with lots of children would fall into this category, but it is one of the risks you have to weigh up.

motherinferior Tue 10-Feb-04 12:52:00

Good point, furball. I have two, but the number of people who assume dd1 - aged three, for god's sake - is my little helper just because she happens to be the oldest...

I don't want 12 kids!!!!!!!!!!!

Galaxy Tue 10-Feb-04 12:52:31

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Tinker Tue 10-Feb-04 15:23:01

I think the mothers maybe were totally selfless but the kids also lacked much individual affection. My granny had 8 that survived but she and my granddad were from families of about 12 or 12 kids. That was just the way things were, women were baby producing machines. She also did all the baking, washed clothes by hand, had coal fires to make up etc.

Would you really want to go back to that? These weren't necessarily choices - Catholic families. The only reason my mum could go to university (very, very unusual then, 1950's, coalminer's daughter etc) was that she was the 7th so there was more money coming in from the older children. Life was hard, no birthdays were celebrated, no money, too many to remember. My mum's older sisters (some of them) were just as bright as my mum, but had no chance of going to university, the family needed the money.

I wouldn't feel bad about feeling knackered, just grateful you have choices

Levanna Tue 10-Feb-04 20:36:10

My husband is one of five siblings. My MIL makes me giggle, and insists that she wanted 3 and 3 only. (They are catholic, but not that devout that it had a bearing on contraception.) I'm pregnant with my second, and really feel that two is perfect for us. For personal, and I hate to say financial reasons. I really want us to be able to continue to provide all we can for them both. My DH, on the other hand loved coming from a slightly larger family. They did go without things, but maybe it's made them a closer family....they still continue the ability to share everything selflessly. Another thing that was different when he was a child is not so much that they had family around, but that society was a lot different - any family's children could regularly be found in any other family's house on their street, at any given time. Or, they would (could!) all play outside, safely, rain or shine. My MIL sweetly tries to get her head around my lack of domesticity, it's taken 4 years for her to take in that I don't make my DH a meal every evening, do all the washing, or all the housework, or all the childcare either.
But, I wonder about it all too sometimes. It was difficult for her at times, but she did manage 5, with no indoors bathroom/toilet for a number of years, no washer or dryer, no disposables! With 2 or 3 in nappies at the same time.......I don't know if I could!

tallulah Tue 10-Feb-04 20:57:33

My great gran had 5 boys in a little 2 up- 2 down terrace. My grandma was one of 8, with more than 20 years between the first & last sibling. We have 4 with 5.5 years between them, & in the early days that felt like 3 too many!! I'm the eldest of 2 & desperately didn't want 2.

Paula71 Tue 10-Feb-04 21:13:05

Well here is my predicament. I had two at once and thought when ds twins went to primary school (albeit not for another two years plus)I would like to have one more baby - okay I'd like another two!

While I can understand and agree people may want two or even one child I was an only child and have no family other than my parents and DH (his family aren't worth it!) So I suppose that is just me being greedy and wanting to surround myself with my own family.

Still if I only ever have my boys I will be happy at that.

stupidgirl Tue 10-Feb-04 21:55:34

Society is so different. Even from a generation back, let alone 2 or 3. The pressures were completely different than they are now. The world has changed beyond comprehension in just a few short years.

I was one of 2 and my parents were one of 4 and 6 respectively. I never got on with my sister, and I would have loved more siblings to act as a 'buffer' I think if there had been more of us then it wouldn't have hurt so much. There are drawbacks to big families, just as there are drawbacks in any family grouping, but for my children I desperately want the big family that I would have wanted.

As far as having children goes, I think any decision is selfish. The whole procreation thing is selfish, IMO

Tommy Tue 10-Feb-04 22:01:22

I'm number 5 out of 6 children but my Mum started at 19 and had had all of us by the time she was 32. I didn't start until I was 35!
It was different "back then". Not better or worse necessarily but different. No my Mum didn't have a microwave, tumble drier or disposable nappies but expectations are so much higher now. If I had got married at 19 and started a family 10 months later with no money or my own house, people (my Mum mostly ) would have said I was irresponsible.
None if us can win so we'd better just get on with doing what's right for us not comparing ourselves to others!

soothepoo Tue 10-Feb-04 23:09:42

Did anyone hear the piece on Woman's Hour today on large families? They interviewed a woman who had 15 children, ages from 24 down to 10 months....
DH is the youngest of 10 - his eldest brother (if he was still alive) would be older than my father. They used to be very close, but now they barely keep in contact.

stupidgirl Tue 10-Feb-04 23:16:13

Tommy said kind of what I was trying to say, but better

tallulah Thu 12-Feb-04 17:59:33

stupidgirl, you said exactly what I believe, I'm the eldest of 2 & also felt that having other siblings would have been a relief from the closeness of 2. I have 4 of my own.

hmb Thu 12-Feb-04 18:05:50

My great Grand mother and her two sisters had 63 children between them. Not all of the children lived to adulthood, and the older children spent much of their time looking after the younger ones.

I had to leave the area to find someone that I could marry who wasn't a relative

misdee Sat 14-Feb-04 08:41:53

my mum has 10 brothers and sisters. my mum is the 2nd eldest, and the youngest is a few months older than my younger sister which is a bit odd.
i have 3brothers and sisters, that was considered a large family. we might not have had much money, but we didnt miss out really. i have a great relationship with my sisters and brother, we are very close and support each other well. i think because of how well we got on, i want more kids (have 2 dd's at the moment) but i want to make sure we have enough money and good health before we decide to have another. although broodiness is settling in heh.
i do feel shattered with my 2 at times, but when they give me hugs and kisses its worth it.

twiglett Sat 14-Feb-04 09:57:46

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