You won’t have a little brother or sister. I’m sorry. I know you have been asking for one for the last couple of years, but, you know, a baby is not a treat or a new toy. He or she is a new life, a new responsibility. Responsibility I am not ready for.
I know you would make fantastic older brothers. I have seen you with little ones and both of you are amazingly caring and kind with them (I wish you showed that side of yours to each other more often). Unfortunately, even that is not enough to change my mind.
I have always wanted children—plural, though I have never specified how many more than two. I am the eldest of four, and it always seemed like a good number. I also wanted my children to be close in age, mainly because the four of us are not. The two of you are close in age, and, to be honest, it was harder than I expected. Trying to be a good enough mother to both of you took up the better part of my energies and focus for the last seven years. Please know, it’s not your fault in any way—it’s the way I am. And that’s a different story, one I will tell you at some other time. Now that I seem to be starting to get a grip on it; now that I have the time and energy to spare for other things, I don’t want to start all over again.
Maybe, if we hadn’t relocated to London when we did… if we had family or more help here… if I didn’t still feel so much of an outsider here and wobbly on my feet emotionally… but there is no point in maybes. This is where we are now, and in the here and now I do not feel I could be the mother I want to be to a baby. I know your father supports you. He’d love a third (and a fourth), and I’m sure he would be a wonderful dad to them, just as he is to you. But he works 10-12-hour days and has a 1-hour commute each way on top of that. And he won’t give up his job—not that I would ask it of him. I am close to 40 years old, and as your grandmother has said, having a child around this age is not “late” now. It will be “late” in 15-16 year’ time, when I am likely to have much less patience for adolescent drama than I have now. And your auntie, my baby sister, still feels that her “old” parents don’t get her. I don’t want that.
Then there are little things that wouldn’t matter in themselves, but, put together, cannot be ignored: since becoming a mother for the first time I have lost a tooth (there goes my wisdom), and have had four others filled; have had a disc prolapse; and have lost about half the hair mass I had in my twenties. I am also going grey (since the day I came home from the hospital after bigD had been born), though some might say it’s just a matter of course for mothers. However I look at it, my body is not what it used to be—and those changes, while natural, do frighten me a bit. While I absolutely loved being pregnant, pregnancy, for all its wonders, is not kind to the female body.
I believe that one should only call a new soul, a new life into being if one—actually, two—genuinely want that new life and are ready to take up all the responsibility that goes with it: to love and to cherish is not only for the wedding vows, you know. I am not ready. I would love to be. I feel guilty and inadequate for that, and I know time is running out. Then there is a vow I made eleven years ago: to accept the children… I feel I’m am breaking that vow. However, when I am honest with myself (which is most of the time), I know that being a mother is not about me. No matter how I feel, a baby is not for assuaging that. I won’t have a child because somebody asks it of me, or to feel better about myself—a baby brother or sister is a person on his or her own right, with his or her own life to live from the start; a child is not there for me (or anybody else, for that matter). I should be there for them. And, right now, I don’t think I could be there for a baby as I believe I should be. Sometimes I feel I can’t even be there for the two of you as I should be. It doesn’t feel right to call a child into being when I’m like that.
All this might change, of course. It is entirely possible that I will feel ready at some point, or that your little brother or sister decides not to wait for that and makes an unplanned appearance (by us, that is). Until then, I am afraid, you will have to be content with the only brother you have: each other.
Lots of love,
This blog is part of our ‘A Letter To’ series.
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