Marc and I took the three kids to Holden Days yesterday. Marc was actually there to help out at his business association booth, and I was wandering around with all three kids. It was a mob scene, with thousands of people and tons of noise and chaos. I don't really like events like this - for example, I've only ever been to the Big E once, and swore never to go back. It's just not my thing, I get a little panicky in big crowds, and I'm always afraid of losing one of the kids. But yesterday was lovely. Julianna sat happily in her stroller (the steady supply of lollipops from all of the booths certainly helped) and Jessie and Sam were happy to bop around with me, checking out different booths and collecting frisbees (why do so many places give away frisbees?).
It made me think that I was really content with my three kids. I'm never certain if we're done having children, and while it's not an immediate decision we have to make, it's one that's always in the back of my mind. But yesterday, there was this odd sense that maybe this was perfect. Maybe three kids is exactly what I want. I didn't feel overwhelmed or stressed out. It felt... right. Like it was enough, and one more might be too much.
I thought about it off and on during the day. After Holden Days, we stopped at my sister's house for my niece's birthday party. There were a bunch of kids, ranging in age from toddler to teenager, and my three kids immediately found friends and spent the afternoon playing. It was... easy. Julie is reaching the point where she's a little more independent, and Jessie is reaching the point where she's not just independent, she's actually a huge help. Without being asked, she fed Julie lunch. Not intentionally, but she got her food and sat down and Julie sat down next to her and helped herself to her sister's hot dog. I was getting Sam lunch and realized that I didn't need to get Julie anything because Jessie had happily handed over her plate and got herself another one. After nine years of constantly having a either a baby or toddler to care for, I found myself actually able to kind of chill out and relax.
I've found that raising children doesn't get EASIER, exactly. In fact, I personally find infancy and toddlerhood to be the easiest stages to handle, as they get older, the challenges get more complicated and the solutions less easy to see. But there is something to be said for reaching the point where you don't have to carry a diaper bag anymore. For sleeping through the night, and not having to include naptime into your daily schedule. I'm not out of that stage yet, but I'm within sight of it, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Part of me is looking forward to it, absolutely, but can I say for sure that I'm ready to never go back to that?
How do people know when they're done having children? I've never known. I've asked other moms who are convinced they're done, and they always say they just knew. Absolutely. One was great, or two was perfect. But I've already had more kids than most of my friends, and I'm not positive. I think maybe we're done. Probably. Right now, three seems like it's perfect, especially when I add in two stepdaughters. But it's hard to close the door completely on doing it all over again. If I had stopped at one, I would have never have known the incredibly beauty of having a son. If I had stopped at two, I would have missed out on all the joy and awe that goes along with Julianna. Each child has added such depth and meaning to my life, to their siblings' lives. It's hard to say we're done. But I think we might be. Maybe.