“She’s a beauty,” the lady next to me smiles, as we watch my three-year-old running and giggling around the garden in the sunshine.
I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes my heart literally aches with love for this funny little character I helped to create.
But even as her compliment hangs in the air, I brace myself for the question I know is coming next.
“So...” she begins, right on cue. “...when is the next one coming?”
I grit my teeth and smile. I’ve known this woman for all of ten minutes. We’re sat next to one another at a mutual friend’s BBQ and, so far, our conversation has revolved around the lovely weather and the delicious burgers. I’d prefer that’s where it stayed.
“Ah not just yet,” I shrug non-commitally.
“You don’t want to leave it too long,” she clucks.
“It’s lovely for them to be close together in age, and you want to be young enough to run around with them, don’t you?”
‘Do I?’ I think, with an inward sigh. I wonder if this stranger, who seems perfectly at ease probing into my personal life, is going to come around to my house at 3am when I’m exhausted by all night feeds and colic with this second child she’s so keen I have. I remember that first year of parenthood all too well; the most exciting and rewarding time of my life, no doubt, but also difficult to navigate, exhausting, and filled with worries I felt completely ill-equipped to handle. After nine months of giving my body over to pregnancy and a traumatic birth, followed by 18 months of breastfeeding, I’m currently enjoying my body serving a purpose other than producing, housing and nourishing a small person - thanks very much and if it’s all the same to you. I’ve finally relegated those ‘comfy’ breastfeeding bras to the back of my drawer in favour of underwear that is altogether more lacy and appealing; my husband is thrilled and so am I.
After months of middle of the night feeds - precious as they were, examining every sleepy eyelash in wonder - 4am starts to the day and baby sick nightly all over my bed sheets, I’m relishing the fact my little girl now sleeps for 12 solid hours, and evenings of nursing and cradling have been exchanged for eating dinner and getting lost in boxsets with my husband.
And instead of running along behind her unsteady steps on wobbly legs today, I’m sitting here in the sunshine, eating my burger and watching the awesome kid I’ve made play happily and independently. We’re doing a lovely job with her, if I do say so myself. She’s kind, polite, thoughtful, clever and funny. So why isn’t that enough? Why are people so obsessed with knowing when we’re going to be starting the whole crazy thing all over again? Can’t you just satisfy yourself that we’ve already contributed one awesome little person to the planet? And she’s just three years old, she isn’t finished yet, and I don’t feel any desire to go back to the beginning and start all over again just now. We’re a family of three and perfectly happy. Thanks for your interest.