“She’s a beauty,” the lady next to me smiles, as we watch my three-year-old running 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 having a big family, and you do want them to be close together in age, don’t you?”
‘Do I?’ I think, with an inward sigh. 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 housing and nourishing a small person - thanks very much. 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 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 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. So 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? We’re a family of three and perfectly happy. Thanks for your interest.