“I want a brother."
I turned around to see my daughter hanging off the bannister in the hallway. Her curls were like a bird’s nest fixed on the top of her tilted head. I laughed at her. She looked so funny, waddling toward me, dragging her Olaf teddy behind her. Her request was so casual. as if she was asking for a bar of chocolate.
Don't be silly, I told her but she wasn't impressed.
I was annoyed too. How could she ask me for something so impossible? She leaned her little chin on my knee as I sat, proof-reading my undergraduate thesis.
Damnit. I knew she’d ask eventually, but this was ridiculous. She is three. So many siblings have years between them. I put down my work and pulled her up for a cuddle, gently explaining that if she had a brother she would have to share her toys. Even Olaf.
She quickly forgot about her request, moving on to something else. But I knew I hadn't heard the end of this.
A few days later she asked again. This time she chose pick-up at playgroup as the setting, surrounded by her teachers.
I looked at the other kids. Almost all of them had siblings next-door in the baby room or Montessori. Now her question didn't seem as silly as I had originally thought.
I thought about why I couldn't give her a brother. The idea of another pregnancy makes me feel sick. I hated almost every minute of being pregnant. I know that a lot of mums look upon those 9 months with fondness and there are many struggling with fertility who would give anything to see a positive pregnancy test. I was the opposite.
When I got pregnant I was eighteen years old, a college student living at home. I was not in a position to be excited about a new-born. I don’t even associate those months with the wonder that is my toddler. I experienced none of the supposed ‘glow’ that you read about in magazines. The worry and stress felt during a crisis pregnancy are something I never want to feel again.
I am still living at home, and still in the same financial position as I was four years ago. I am so thankful for the support we get from my family every day, but another baby? Not a chance. There is no- way my boyfriend and I will be in that place for a long time.
There is one thing that gets me though; I love my sisters and I love having them in my life.
We all love our siblings and cannot imagine life without them. They shape who we are. As kids, and with only a few years between the four of us, we were a team.
For my baby, they are the best aunties anyone could ask for, and we are still as close as ever. Hopefully, we will always be.
The idea that my daughter may not have siblings brings on a large wave of guilt.
Guilt that she might not have that support system my sisters gave me throughout the years.
Guilt that her own baby (if she chooses motherhood), won’t have any aunties. I know a few one-baby mamas who can relate to this feeling.
Whether you are one-and-done by choice or circumstance, there will always be pressures put on women to extend their families.
This can come from external sources like nosy family members dropping hints, or your toddler embarrassing you at pick-up. They can also come from the inside, like when annoying hormones take over and cause you to ask another mum if you can smell her newborn's head!
It is important to remember that you are not alone if your family planning does not align with society or even your own body clock.
Although situations do vary, mom-guilt is a reality for most of us.
It just so happened that mine was reinforced that particular day, by a little voice, promising to share Olaf with her hypothetical baby brother.