The Tao of Two: On Having More Than One Kid


I wasn't always sure I wanted two kids. I'm an only child, and I can't remember a time when I sat around bemoaning my loneliness, thinking how if I just had a brother or sister everything would be so much better. If anything, I probably would have been horrified at the notion of sharing my ever-growing collection of Breyer horses and original Xavier Roberts dolls.

I wasn't just an only child, I was an only grandchild. My Christmases were epic, is what I'm saying.

My husband, however, has a brother, and even though they're more than five years apart, he can't imagine growing up without a sibling. They weren't especially close when they were young, but they have an amazing bond now. Why, I can set my watch by my brother-in-law's daily phone call, which always happens right as we sit down to dinner.


Anyway, about a year and a half after we had our first son, we started talking about having another. Or more specifically, my husband started trying to convince me, while I explained via a series of colorful phrases and pie charts that if he wanted to gestate and birth the child, he should feel free to go right ahead.

Eventually I came around to the mindset that while having another baby certainly wouldn't be easy, there was a certain wisdom in taking it on sooner rather than later. Some time after that (*rotating clock hands, floating ovulation sticks, flapping calendar pages, unusually businesslike sexual intercourse*), our second son was born.

Now that our little household is a foursome, I can't imagine life any other way. On the other hand, I am constantly marveling at how the magnitude of children is like the Richter scale, where despite all logic, two does not cause twice the damage of one. Rather, it is a logarithmic increase of chaos, noise, energy, and need for parental Xanax.

Two was hard from the beginning, when I was the pregnant mother of a young toddler. Remember your first pregnancy? All those naps? The second pregnancy is an entirely different endeavor, let me tell you. Feel like shit? Suck it up, buttercup, because no one cares. You can't take Advil, but perhaps the constant litany of MOMMY? MOMMY? MOMMY? MOMMY? will help soothe that first trimester headache.

Then there was the long dark tea-time of the newborn-plus-toddler soul, which was sort of delightful but, I won't lie, mostly spectacularly awful. I'm not even 100% sure how we survived that period, really. I think my favorite memory of that time was the day about two weeks in when I bent over my preschooler to change his diaper and the weight of the baby in the front carrier strained some integral part of my back, so I was forced to spend the next few days caring for them both while being unable to straighten above a 90-degree angle.

Now that they're 3 and 5, things are much, much easier. Of course, it's sort of like living with—well, you know that whirling tornado of madness and snarls that accompanies the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil? It's like living with that. Only there are 50 of them. And they never stop moving or making noise or destroying the furniture or bending over and shouting, "LOOK AT MY BUTT!"

The utterly joyous part of two, however, is what they mean to each other. For this only child, their friendship is a wonder to behold. They play together all day long, they roughhouse and fight and shout and oh, they drive me crazy, but they are constantly having a blast.

Both boys go to the same gymnastics class together one day a week, and I recently asked my 5-year-old if he had made friends with anyone in the class.

"I mostly hang out with Dylan," he said.

"You know," I told him, "you can be friends with the other kids, too. Not just your brother."

He shrugged. "Yeah, I know. But I like being friends with Dylan."

Soon enough Riley will be going off to school and he will, of course, have friends other than Dylan. I don't know what kind of relationship they'll have with each other a year from now, or 10 years from now.

I have a good feeling, though. I think they were meant for each other. I sort of believe, despite my skeptic nature, that our family was always meant to be exactly what it is.

Do you have more than one child? If so, how did you decide to do it all over again?

siblings, mental health


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Kathie Staub

I am hanging on to your words right now, as I struggle to survive with a nearly 3 year old and a 5 week old. I feel bad about it, but I am wishing for time to fly by, so that the newborn phase will be over, and my children will be able to play with each other in some form, at least, and I will be able to stop worrying that the toddler will kill the baby if he lies down on top of her like that again.
Thanks for reminding me why I am doing this!

buffa... buffalove23

One and done for us. sick of hearing its selfish to only have one baby, ugh.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Oh my gosh... I have 2 and that first year of the second one couldn't go fast enough! The constant "be careful, why did u push her, don't grab her feet, don't take toys from her" all things I said to my oldest in reguards to her sister. Now they r almost 3 and almost 6 and they r best of friends. Its def rough at first.. Pregnancy and all.

Nancy... NancyJ422

I have one.  He's 20 now and I don't think I ever wished for 2 or thought he was deprived or thought we were deprived.  Just like your foursome is a family our threesome has always been "we three".  Our decision was partially a couple of miscarriage coupled with financial instability.  I wanted to be able to afford to give him what he needed (and what he wanted within reason).  We couldn't have done that with 2.  I honestly don't think I would go back and do it differently.

Mommah3 Mommah3

I always knew i wanted a bunch.... I wanted 4 but my my hubby only wanted 2.....He actually would have been happy with just 1. Yes, it was rough when tehy were toddlers and babies....i thought I was going to go crazy when I had a 5 yr old, 2 yr old and a newborn, BUT we all survived (with very little injury to all!) and now that they are 10, 7 and 4, they all get along for the most part. I knew I wanted them close together because I am one of 3 and we are very far apart, my oldest  sis is 11 yrs older and my other is 7 yrs older than me. I didnt want that, I wanted all my kids tobe able to play together and be into the same things, even though they are 2 boys and a girl and basically they are. If I could, i would probably have another but money, space and the fact the hubby is now fixed dont allow us to!

Steph... StephanieSD

We're trying for Number Two. Number One is only 8 months old and we decided if we're going to have one, we may as well have two. We were planning to wait a few years between them, but after a couple months we decided that we don%

jalaz77 jalaz77

I wanted 4. After we had our 1st , I thought 2 will be just fine! We had our 3rd 8mo ago. Adding the 2nd was hard, adding the 3rd was way easy, he is such a good baby. The others were also but this one seems way easier. Now I am back to wanting 4. I LOVE being pregnant, births were great, breastfeeding went well as could be expected, love the interaction between our many reasons why adding more children is a no brainer for me. I have 1 sibling and he lives on the coast. We have a excellent relationship, I just wish he were closer geographically. I loved our childhood but I wish I had more siblings. I remember asking my mom for another sibling, I was 12, she said oh no, she was only 34! I giver her grief for that every so often! Oops longer post than expected....

nonmember avatar kalmmom

Mine was a surprise decision - meaning that when my oldest was 12 I was surprised to learn that I was pregnant with my second. I was set with being a one and done. Even bigger surprise? That I ended up taking custody of / adopting a 3week old and 3yo when I was 4 1/2 months pregnant!!
Yeah, I know have a 16yo, 7yo and two 4yo's - my life is a constant tornado wrapped in a hurricane and tied with an earthquake LOL.

Cara Cantwell Mosier

I have a younger brother and my husband has three older sisters, and I think we always planned on having two.  My brother is 3 1/2 years younger than me and my husband's closest sister is 6 years older than him, and neither of us has a great relationship with them.  So we decided that we'd have our two closer together in hopes that they would be closer in friendship.  They're 18 months apart - our daughter just turned 4 and our son is 5 1/2.  We knew the first couple of years would be rough, and they were just as hellacious as I could have ever dreamed.  Try having a nursing infant attached to you while trying to keep her 18 month old brother from sticking mommy's keys in electric outlet or whatever tragedy we narrowly averted that day.  But now that they're a little older, we find that they do play a lot together.  They go to the same preschool (but are in different classes) and when the classes combine on the playground they do play together a lot.  I told Payton the same thing you told Riley - it's OK for you to play with other kids beside Tori.  And his response was pretty much just like Riley's. So overall, we're completely happy with our decision to have two and to have them closer together.

nonmember avatar Pansy

We always wanted two. I have a sister and my husband is one of 3 and neither of us could imagine life without our siblings. But we only wanted 2. So it took a bit of an adjustment when we saw 2 heartbeats at the first ultrasound. Six months into this adventure, I still look at my little boys and wonder how the hell we ended up a family of 5. They're awesome and I love them - and their sister adores them, for which I am very grateful - but I am amazed at what life can throw at you.

It will be fun and interesting to watch all their relationships develop as they get older and I think and hope that the three of them will always have a built in support network, and that makes me happy. But, yeah. Planned on two. Got three.

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