Am I a bad mom for not wanting a second child?

Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. JulianoMarla DarwinMonica Eleazar-ManzanoRossana UnsonRonna Capili-Bonifacio, and Chrina Cuna-Henson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.

For someone who isn’t mathematically inclined, I developed the tendency of putting forward percentages whenever I am faced with a difficult question.

It’s not even the quantitative kind of math. I got into the habit of using percentages to gauge how I feel towards things I’m still uncertain of.

My answer to one of those things is 80 percent.

The question is: will I ever have a second child?

I was able to fend off this question when my daughter was a lot younger. It’s a different case now that she’s about to head off to preschool and my usual slew of excuses don’t apply anymore.

As she grows older and more independent, I find myself gaining back my own independence and being reluctant to let go of it again. I didn’t enjoy being pregnant. While I was able to experience the kind of birth I wanted, the thought of doing it all over again doesn’t excite me. I don’t want to go through breastfeeding again. I don’t want the sleepless nights anymore.

I feel these emotions strongly and yet I also feel like a villain for having them in the first place. I have many people in my life who support my choices, but there are also a bunch of them who pile on the guilt when I don’t give the answer they want to “Kailan niyo susundan ‘yan?”

The guilt works. Why else do I wonder if my daughter will resent me for not giving her siblings? It gets to me when I picture my husband and I dying and leaving my daughter all alone to handle all of our affairs. As morbid as this thought is, it also reveals to me one of my biggest fears, which is having my child grow up to hold a grudge against me—a significant tangent I should dig into at another time.

My brain does a fantastic job shushing the guilt-driven thoughts when I think about siblings who cannot stand each other, only children who are thriving and happy, and other small families who expand their capacity for love through their other relationships and communities.

I also start thinking about climate change and how curbing the number of children we have is fast becoming a moral imperative in light of our depleting resources.

My brain pulls showstopper moves when I think about our own personal resources. When we started going through preschool tuition rates, the figures we saw became the perfect contraception. A sit-down with any competent insurance agent should be able to give you the projections for college tuition as well (Spoiler alert: It’s horrifying). No amount of “The Lord will provide” can shake us out of it.

I’m throwing in the towel over one kid. It’s all I can handle.

In giving 80 percent, there’s still the remaining 20 percent to take account of.

My husband and I agreed that he’ll have a vasectomy when the time comes. We agreed to wait until we turn 40. We still have a sizable window of time until then.

This is where the 20 percent factors in. With everything I just mentioned, nothing can explain how my heart hurts whenever I see a newborn baby. I miss the milky scent of their heads, their gummy smiles, and their chubby limbs. If we’re able to reconcile money and emotional readiness in that window of time, I would love to have that second kid. Of course I’d love to have another child to hold in my arms.

Maybe the 20 percent will grow, or maybe the 80 percent will slowly inch towards 90 or 100. All I know is that this is one of those life decisions I cannot decide on impulse. I swing between certainty and grief.

This question of a second child is another drop in this ocean of my reproductive system being public domain––fussed over among families and debated in policy making. I wonder if the questions will die down as my fertile years do, but I think about how it will be my daughter’s turn in the public domain and the cycle repeating.

There are never any easy answers in my case. It may be the idea of a second child for now, but there will always be something else after that. Birth, life, sickness, death. All I have are these percentages and these examinations.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Tricia Guevara

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