One, two, three, four, five…

How do you define the perfect family? One mommy, one daddy, a boy and a girl? One mommy and a son? Two daddies and two daughters? A man and a woman with no babies? It’s good to see that definition is increasingly fluid. There may not be a definition at all – after all, ties are not always of blood. At least not for some of us. For the rest, there is always a nosy parker commenting on your life.

Surabhi wrote this post on the kind of statements she is subjected to, Sanah being an only child. As many pointed out in the comments, the world will always have something to say to your situation. In our case, the OA and I and the kids are a traditional, picture perfect family. Banker father, work from home mother (look, she works but she is also home with the kids, how perfect!), a boy and a girl bunched into two years. But dig deeper and we face other questions – How can a Hindu and a Christian get married? What are your kids going to be brought up as? How do you worship? I realise that these are all huge issues that keep many people up nights even even though it is not their business. But bug our bedroom and you will discover that the biggest fight is what temperature the AC needs to be kept on ( if you want the answer  – we settle at 22 degrees) and who gets to sleep on the cooler side of the bed (I, in case you care).

Hum do, hamare do is what the government suggested and we don’t take them any less than seriously. Two it has to be. Why exactly is two considered the perfect number? Cousin J who is studying psychology mentions that the ideal family is meant to have three children. The OA almost threw her off the balcony that evening when he saw the glint in my eye. But I speak for myself. I wanted two because my childhood without Tambi would have been incomplete. We had a joint family and people of every age lived in it, each one with more than a few minutes to spare for a child. A huge rambling old house with a pond and mango, jackfruit,  lychee, guava and orange trees to climb, pick fruit, read under and hang hammocks and tyres from. My grandmother was the principal of two schools and the best person to rear children as educators usually are. It could have been the perfect existence for a single child and I’d never have needed a companion. And yet, YET, the best part of my growing years, was my brother – everything just shone that much brighter because of him.

The perfect playmate – I didn’t have to wait for play dates to be organised. No one needed to come down to a child’s level literally or otherwise. We hung sheets and made castles, we floated boats in the monsoons and ran around the wide verandahs that encircled the house, following their route. We set up a bird watching club, built a treehouse and and climbed up there at the crack of dawn with binoculars. I sat atop the dhobi’s cart with cousin K and J on a cushion while Tambi pushed us around the house on our “boat”  – until the day we dropped the 4 month old Cousin J off the cart. *shudder*. We went for early morning walks and flattened coins on the railway tracks. We escaped from our hotel room one night in Lucknow and found a phone booth and called up friends at midnight. We had the same friends and held big dance parties where both sexes could meet – a big deal in a small town. We went cycling around the house and then his bike arrived and we were free as birds, shooting off for ice cream when the need arose.

As we grew older and more secretive about our lives, my parents took comfort in the fact that we’d never get too deep into shit because the other one always knew. So when I lay whispering on the phone all night and couldn’t wake up for school in the morning, my mother would panic that I was sick, but Tambi would roll his eyes and say, she’s fine. When he crashed up his bike, we painted the scratch on the bike with my nail polish and I ensured that he went to a doc and got the wound dressed. When I dated someone he quietly checked him out and kept an eye from a distance. When he dated anyone, I promptly said I hated her and thought she was unsuitable, hence confirming his suspicion that she was perfect for him. And most of all, for children like me and my brother and now my children, we don’t come from typical traditional families with communities and languages and histories of our own. In our own muddled up way, we have only our own little traditions and community. And years from now when my oldies are no more (I don’t want to think about it) I will be happy to have someone to say, “Tambi, remember the time we … ”

But what if the siblings hate each other? asks a friend. I shrug. No relationship comes with guarantees. What if you hate the man you marry? What if you and your best friend fall out? What if you and your only child don’t see eye to eye? I was always sure I wanted two kids. And no, not because I feel the second one is a requirement for the first one to be entertained by the second. Nor because I wanted an heir and a spare. But because I love kids. I want my house to always be full of the sound of childish voices and clutter and noise and laughter. I don’t think I’d have stopped at two if I could afford it, if the country could afford the population explosion and if my battered body could take it. For me, three, four, five, would be the perfect number.

But yes, now that I have two, I can’t imagine having it any other way. When I see parents with one child I sometimes wistfully think they have it better. They ended their diaper routine with one child, they only had to potty train one, they spend less on fees and clothes and birthday parties, they have to put away one less college fund and the big one – ONE CHILD CAN’T GANG UP ON THEM!! My two on the other hand learnt early to gang up and the house resounds with war whoops at all times. I scream at one who is launching himself off the back of the sofa only to realise that the other one just came sliding down the stairs on a cushion. They feed off each other’s exuberance and they inspire each other to great heights of mischief. I scold one, the other takes up for her. I give one a time out, the other sits down next to him so that he isn’t bored. And even as I feel like taking their heads and banging them together, there is a part of me that smiles at the fun they’re having. Glad that they are what kids should be – imaginative, spirited, happy, compassionate.

But for every calm, well settled only child that I see, I see one who isn’t. The key I think, lies in being content with your choice. Some people I feel, just aren’t content with their decision. I know of at least eight couples who have stopped at one child, not because they wanted only one, but because they have some hereditary illness which surfaced with the first and they don’t want to risk a second one. Or because they are unable to finance the second child. Or because they have no childcare options and cannot afford for the mother to stay home. Sometimes they are undecided and just end up waiting too long after the first and then feel too exhausted to get into the diaper routine again and worry about too huge an age gap. Sometimes they make their peace with this choice enforced on them, sometimes they pass that discomfort on to the child as well as to others, in things they say and do.

I have come across many siblings who fuss and can’t sleep if the other has a reading light on, who throw tantrums for special time with the parents and so on. I am often told that my two children don’t get enough adult time because they are so close in age and also because they are two instead of one. I can think of at least 5 single kids who are quite neglected by their parents and raised entirely through daycares/nannies.  So that argument similarly falls flat because how much time a child gets depends on the amount of time you are willing to give them. I’ve also had people tell me that the Brat needed more time before I had the Bean (she was born when he was 22 months). Which tempted me to ask them to check with the Brat – he loves his sister who is his best friend and he’d have had a different life if he’d not had her – if anything, she’s responsible for him coming out of his shell and being more of an extrovert. As for attention –  I was home full time, I was their primary caregiver and we all had a blast. And I am glad I picked what I thought was the right time for them, because they are such great company for each other and I don’t have to juggle two entirely different sets of needs. They fill my home, my heart, my life and each other’s lives too. And the last one is a bonus because I didn’t really produce them as two parts of a whole. It was merely that what I wanted out of my life and God was good enough to give me what I desired.

But the last two holidays gave me lots to think (and blog!) about. When the OA and I were exhausted and wanted to catch forty winks, we’d lock our hotel door and sleep, leaving the kids playing around us (the only rule being that they don’t push pencils up our nostrils) knowing very well that each one was the other’s safety valve. But there were days when another harried mother would beg us to leave the kids playing in her room because her child was bored and driving her nuts. The mother of a 13 year old watches him head to the TV room to watch a cricket match and tells me that for the first time in so many years she’s had a peaceful holiday because she has to be her son’s constant companion since he has no siblings, playing cricket, watching TV with him, everything. Another watches her screaming kid grab the Brat’s toys and then refuse to share his own, telling me (as though that is a good reason) that he has no one to share with and so doesn’t know how to. A terribly violent young boy we’re acquainted with begs his parents for a sibling everyday. His parents are really old (I accidentally called his mother ‘aunty’ the first time I met her in a store) and I watch them limp slowly as older people do, walking behind as he zips across the lawns. “We adopted him so late, how do we explain to him that we’re too old to raise any more children?” the mother asks helplessly. Another child cries every time we leave her  home after a playdate and begs her mother for a sibling who will stay and not go away like other children. I don’t know about the parents and why they have made the choices that they have, but I do see that the children aren’t completely comfortable. They aren’t the kind of self sufficient children that Sanah or the Brat are. Who would be happy as one or one of two or three. I also think they need to be taught the skills to deal with their lot in life, just like siblings are taught to share and adjust regardless of their temperament and nature.

I don’t buy any of the arguments that single children are by definition selfish, unable to share, unable to adjust, or any of those silly statement. I think that is all the result of a personality type as well as their nurture. I see plenty of siblings who can’t share with each other – what is their excuse? Neither do I believe that children who have siblings aren’t self sufficient. The summer holidays have begun and while the Bean naps during the hot North Indian afternoons, the Brat crawls around the floor with a plastic pencil box, talking to himself and organising a grand prix. He is perfectly content and very calm. And that again, is an individual characteristic, nothing to do with being one or one of two.

And that is where I’d wind this up. How many kids you have depends on what you want, not what society dictates. Reminds me of a friend who recently said to me (after much societal pressure to have a second) – When I look at my daughter I feel like I need nothing more.

And that is all there is to it. In fact if you look at your husband and believe that there is no more you need in your life, then that is also a perfectly perfect place to draw the line.

117 thoughts on “One, two, three, four, five…

  1. Oh Man! You got me thinking… Now that the little fellow is 16months old – Im having this mental tug of war – one more or not!

    Oops! There I said it!But the practical mind just pushes the thought away…

    I have a friend -Hindu married to a Muslim and she made a very valid statement – He son does Namaz when he goes to his Dad’s house and then does Shiv pooja at the other granny’s. They have left him to be himself without imposing any religion on him and that is how they want it to be…

  2. Completely agree. I’m an only child and not (I hope!) dysfunctional in any way. Growing up, I had enough to do, enough friends and enough family to not feel the “absence” of a sibling – and maybe this is just me, but I really do think that you can’t miss (in the constantly-sad, why-me, I-WANT!, kind of way) something that you’ve never had or experienced. Yes, you wonder what your life could be like, if you had a sibling, but I never felt it would be much better or worse. Limited imagination, maybe. Or just a good childhood overall. 🙂

      • Haha! To them, I just say this – being the selfish, emotionally-stunted, single child I am, I don’t give a rat’s posterior for their trolling. 😉

  3. single child can feel terribly lonely with noone having shared his history.
    if parents want only a single kid,i would dissuade them need a sibling to share,care,fight and support.
    two boys fight later on in life-look at ambanis.their wives then dictate terms.

    two sisters compare.yes-silently.muted comparisons.
    a boy and a girl parents experience raising both genders.

    i would also recommend having second child soon after one’s body allows to have another.reason-The first child hasn’t grown up enough to feel neglected.both children grow together,aware of other’s existance.age gap is less and once into teenage they perfectly understand each other.
    and yes,have as many children as you can,bets would be three(one to play refree).life’s a party with a gaggle of aunts and a bunch of mamas and mausis who send you chutney with pickled love.
    and fie these materialsitic times!

    • I’m going to agree with a lot and disagree with some. mostly the two boys point. Surely the boys aren’t silly enough to only be guided by their wives. I believe if you bring up your children to imagine that money and power are the only things, yes they will fight over property. Currently my parents are trying to divvy up the property and Tambi and I keep telling them to give it to the other sibling.

      As for the comparisons between sisters – you really think so? I have no experience, but I am wondering if that is too blanket a statement too… lets wait for others to respond.

      • Here I come.Me and my big sister. We are the apple of each other’s eye(s). Excuse my english. I don’t exist without my sister and ditto for my sister. There is nothing in this world that sisters can’t share.I can just go on and on.

        I was actually biased for a long time that only sisters can be that close to each other until I saw some brothers and sisters like MM and Thambi.

        As for comparisions, I think it depends on their brought up. My mom and her sister always used to be that way because they were never really close as kids in a family of 6 and a single mom in a big extended family. I might have seen a very few examples like these myself. But for the most part, I have only seen sisters dying on each other. I cannot even think of comparision.

      • i disagree. i grew up with two elder sisters. we’ve had some issues, of course (more between the elder sisters because their age difference is much less than between them and me…um,did that make sense?) but i don’t think gender was the issue.

        • Recent studies show that households with two girl child are the happiest,but comparisons do creep in later in life,regarding who was luckier in terms of spouse,wealth and profession.But again,it depends solely on how one was raised.

          • I’m sorry, I’m sure the study was done in good faith but I find the whole idea ridiculous. How do you measure happiness? Are there no divorces in households with daughters? Or resentment? Anything? No offence to you, but my reaction to the study is to laugh because I can’t understand what the parameters were and how they went about the exercise. To say nothing of the fact that other happy families might be a little insulted by this.

    • Single kid here. 🙂 My “history-sharing” has happened with parents and friends. And there will always be enough people to make a qualitative judgment on whether that’s as good or not, but here’s the thing: to my parents, and to me, it doesn’t matter. I’ve had a really good childhood and wouldn’t wish it to be any other way, and the same goes for my parents.

      And if we ARE going to think along these lines, consider this – maybe single children turn out more independent? Yes everyone needs a shoulder in life sooner or later. Some find it, some don’t. Some have it but lose it. No guarantees anywhere, unfortunately. 🙂

    • S’s comment is so weird, considering that just above Mudra shared that being an only child she was fine and didn’t seem lonely.

      The thing about sisters – I’m not sure what the “compare” alludes to. My sister and I were very close growing up and are still close. We never “compared” (don’t even know what that means). Other people did compare us – that my sister was darker in complexion than me; that I wasn’t as well-behaved as her in school. We only got more protective of each other. And people compared my husband with his sisters too, so clearly comparisons are inevitable from the outside.

      Don’t agree with the “have many kids” also. If you enjoy kids and have what it takes to raise several, then why not? But this might not work for everyone.

      • I know what you mean. I was always more protective of my brother if someone compared and said he was too quiet/not boisterous enough. Some of it depends on personality type and some of it on nurture I guess. My parents encouraged us to stick up for each other and not tell tales even if that meant them losing out on information.

  4. I think it’s comparing apples to oranges. Don’t agree with much in the comment. Two sisters compare – what about 3? I for one don’t remember ever having compared even silently. While one sister compared, and with a voice so, the other one was a queen in her mind. It was about our personality types, there wasn’t a difference in the nurture! And what of the bond we share inspite of the personality differences?

  5. The difference between my kids is only 15 months ! Now they are both 10 and 11 years old respectively. I call them Alma-Sitab, like they are a unit, not 2 individuals 🙂

    It has worked out well for all concerned. It seems so.. at least, so far.

    And we were three sisters – we were and still are VERY close. Yes there were comparisons, but comparisons happen even with a boy and girl. So I dont think it really matters.

    What matters is how parents project each sibling to the other. If they demand space, mutual respect and affection, then the kids just mirror that.

  6. I am the youngest of two girls in our house and I would say I wouldn’t have been a happier single child though I am self sufficient and can quiet enjoy my solitude as much as the time I spend with my sister. In my case there were no comparisons whatsoever and we always are willing to give things up for the other one. But we do fight a lot, even today when she has a one year old kid, for things silly and serious and have had rather strong and heated arguments. My mom even today says that we both drive her nuts and that she would happily give away one of us (jokingly of course), but she and I and my sister knows that she cannot be without either one of us. I am pretty sure that I cannot live without this crazy love we have for each other and both of us wouldn’t make for a happy single child. And my mom and dad definitely wouldn’t have it too 🙂

    • Ms A,

      You are indeed hillarious! First you want MM to talk about sex and now you talk about potty bums. I am laughing so hard here that i am sure the neighbours cannot hear their evening azaan ! Gawwwddd! Ure funny man!

    • You are the funniest AneelaZ! Wish Sur had really made that film with me assisting her, would’ve got to meet you!

    • This is it…I was also thinking its all about the diaper and potty training.

      I’d like to have as many children as I can if I am allowed to give my kid away for the first 2 years and then take him/her back.

    • Ah the leaking bottom line!
      Aneelaji, you have added the most weighty perspective to this endless debate. Aap great ho.
      Chox, lets head to bangladesh for the film.

      • I haven’t got into potty training yet, but the diaper part is a piece of errr cake (kaka? ok I couldn’t resist). Don’t know why people go on so much about it. Breastfeeding… now that is a pain!

  7. Definition of the perfect family: “People who live in the same house because each of them wants to spend most of their time with each other.”

  8. And thank you, for giving me this line: “. If you look at your husband and believe that there is no more you need in your life, then that is also a perfectly perfect place to draw the line.”

  9. Wow MM, as someone who was married young and has been married 2.5 years into a north indian boy child obsessed family, im ALWAYS feeling the pressure. the irony of it all, is that while i like children, i feel no maternal instincts to have any of my own. not just yet at least. and you have summed that up so beautifully in the last line of your post. thats exactly where i am at this point in life 🙂

  10. I have 4 right, 2 boys and 2 girls and the amount of questions I get as to why in this day and age I have 4 kids, is shocking.

    It doesnt matter where, Americans(they ask the most politely), Singaporeans and Indians(they come out and ask whether I knew about nashbandhi).. They all ask me were the kids planned.

    I love my gang of 4. If I had stopped at 3 kids(which apparently was ideal because I got my boy after 2 girls and hence okay in the eyes of the world) I would never have my youngest child who is the perfect child in my eyes. It all evens out and everyone has a partner on the roller coaster.

    Did you see that article where it said parents of 2 girls are the happiest or something like that!

    I posted something similar to this a long time ago and I said I never have to plan playdates for my kids because I have 4 and I feel for the single child families. Ohh apparently that was really offensive and trolls came to take me down.

    • Trolls by definition are rotting smelly pieces of rubbish who have bits of rubber for brain. What is so offensive about that line? I never have to call a financial planner because I am married to a banker. Is that going to be offensive too? Morons.

  11. I’m glad to hear Cousin J’s comment about 3 kids. I had always wanted 2. The husband wanted 3 or 4. We had a girl and then 2 years later a boy. I thought my husband would change his mind about wanting a big family, now that we had one of each — he didn’t and I agreed finally. When I was pregnant with my 3rd, I got several questions about if it was planned from acquaintances. People couldn’t understand why anyone would want to add to what they considered a perfect family.

    Having 3 kids has made travel harder — most hotel rooms are designed for 2 kids, we try to find a suite or cottage when possible. But what I enjoy the most is seeing the affection between the three of them. The older two often put on plays and now they include the baby. He gets in their way when they are doing a puzzle together and they distract him by offering a toy. They have to share their parents but their love for each other and the time they spend together more than makes up for it.

    • ooooooooooooooooooh!!!!! I am SO jealous. I so BADLY want a third. the OA will NOT agree. Says two are enough. One girl one boy so no more demands. He is one of three and feels that was one too many. See, even in our marriage, we havent come to an agreement on the right number of kids!

      • My husband and I both have only 1 sibling each. He thought having just 1 brother was so boring and wish he had more kids to play with. So the baby is 10 months old now and totally adorable. I just want to keep kissing him — you know the soft skin, the baby smells, the sweet babbles 🙂

        I do think those who are able to, should have two. And if you have both the time and money, you should have three or four. In my case, ours is a mixed marriage and we live far away from family, so I would have never thought of having a single child. And I’m lucky that the older two get along so well. I would have been content with just the two of them but I can see how much my almost 6 year old loves the baby.

        • You’re killing me! I’d love to, but I don’t think my system can take it anymore 😦 bad knees, bad back, bad eyes – I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel

          • ” I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel” — Don’t mean to laugh about real concerns, and I wish you good health and a long life and all that, but seriously, that has to be the funniest line ever!

  12. “Trolls by definition are rotting smelly pieces of rubbish who have bits of rubber for brain” OK.. I am not Gautam Budhha and also Bhagvan Mahavira ( though Jainism runs in my blood ) Lekin, mein in logon se hein jyada seekhta huun.. then compared to any other any experience

  13. I read your blog everyday, but rarely comment but just had to today. This issue has been on my mind for a few days and just yesterday i was having this conversation with a friend of mine and you wrote about this. My son is 18 months and the question is now on us, the 2nd child do we want one and when is a good time, the only reason i even want a 2nd is so my son has someone to call his own in the wide world, besides his parents, a lifetime playmate and friend.

  14. One question my parents get asked when they introduce me as their child even today (am 28!).. What about son? Thanks to them I grew up hating boys.. Thanks to my parents to make me a confident child.. they would always reply we dont need one.. she is there for us..

    And poor them, it was not their choice.. The only time I wanted a sibling was in my teens 😀 when i tot that there could have been divided attention and I could slip out of the house easily..

  15. I completely agree with you, how many kids you have and whether you have them at all should entirely depend on what you and your spouse want (society is not going to change the umpteenth diaper!).
    As for me, I’d love to have three kids! In fact I’m off to tell the husband what cousin J said (are you sure she didn’t say it to get back at you for dropping her off the cart?) even though I run a real risk of him throwing me off the balcony after being assigned bedtime duty tonight 🙂

    • *gasp* you’re right. she might have. but remember, she is my weekend babysitter so she won’t willingly add to her burden unless she is absolutely nuts. Which she might be, considering we dropped her on her nut. Oh dear.. what confusion :p

  16. Hi MM,

    Belated wishes to the Brat! Hope he had a great birthday.

    I agree with most of what you have written. But what happens when, after one, the couple try and try some more for a second and it doesnt happen or it takes time? The couple is getting older, the age gap is increasing..and so on. I find so many of my friends in this situation with really nothing more to do and getting frustrated by the minute.

    • yikes. I don’t know, dude 😀 This wasn’t one of my solutions posts and this is one of those things that over the years I have learnt is not my business :p
      Seriously though.. I know I will never know the frustration of trying and not conceiving so I can’t speak for those people. But I do hope and wish that more people would consider adoption.

      • Why some people want a child so badly and yet dont think about adoption as an option (these are people who are neither stopped by parents/elders in family/society nor really care about what they have to say) is beyond me!

        • I might have said the same 4-5 years ago, cmck, but I have mellowed with age and I completely understand why they do it now. With NO intention of trivialising the issue, in a similar way, it’s about the experience, say of cooking your own food or painting something for yourself. The experience of making something yourself as opposed to having it handed to you. There is a great joy as well as a lot of pain in pregnancy as well as childbirth and it’s something the human body is meant to do unless things go wrong. I guess the desire to do go through it doesn’t go away with the physical inability.

  17. I want 6 babies and have one so far…im 33 now and diabetic and feel this great biological rush to have as many as I can before my body gives out…a cousin of mine decided not to have any kids since she was in a bad marriage, down the years they are now happy and regret not having babies which i think is more sad- to live with regret…anyhow, she is unable to conceieve now. Each to his own i suppose.

    I have spotted many arab women here in dubai with 6 kids and 6 nannies in tow and yelling like a banshee at them in public and looking seriously hassled and yet my next door neighbour, who is from Kabul, still quite young, has no househelp and has 8 boys!!! She quite obviously enjoys being a mommy and all the residents of the complex know her as the most gentle, kind and loving woman even though she can hardly speak english- her actions in public kind of show that she is thankful for each of her boys, her boys are supremely well behaved and so chivalrous in an old fashioned way…she told me she may have more! I have also seen very well adjusted single children too but I do feel one should have more than a single child if they can…is it just me or have you noticed Indians as a whole dont seem keen on adoption? Just wondering aloud here…


    • Well there are lots of lovely Indian couples adopting. But we have such a strong culture of caste and creed and untouchability that the average person still reacts in a very filmy – pata nahi kiska khoon hai type of way. You may not believe it babe, but it is the sad truth. This is what comes of years of safeguarding of bloodlines and such rigidity.

      • I was all gung-ho about adopting until I had my own child. Now I wonder… mainly because the first three months with a baby are so tough (at least for me) that I wonder how I might have reacted if I hadn’t gone through the whole process of pregnancy and labour wiht the baby… not sure if this makes any sense. But it made me think that not all of us are capable of adopting. I’m still undecided over whether I want to adopt though. My sister-in-law has adopted her second child and we love the new baby to bits but it’s a different thing being an aunt and being a mom.

        • I know what you mean. You’re right about the pregnancy and labour, but I feel its a little also to do with the fact that some people want to experience that. To know what it is like and not just because its some sort of badge of honour…

  18. Heya MM,

    I have a twin sister & I can’t possibly imagine a life without a sibling/s. My mother’s parents were not financially well off but still had 3 daughters, & that too planned, with age gap of 7 & 8 yrs respectively between the three of them. Now my eldest aunt just became a grandma, while the youngest aunt daughters are aged 11 & 7. My mother & her sisters have been for each other through thick & thin.

    For my part, I want to have twins desperately, & if that doesn’t happen, will definitely have my kids one after the other so that they are close in age as possible! 🙂

    • *fingers crossed* here’s hoping you do. I have always wanted a twin but then I am so obsessive about my brother that I am afraid with my nature I’d have eaten my twin alive just to keep him/her close :-/

  19. Hi,

    Here’s what a female friend said. She wants to raise kids, but in an over-populated world, her conscience will only allow her to adopt, and she would as many as she can handle/support.

    As always, I don’t really have any opinion beyond “to each one’s own” 🙂

    • That’s great. I think that is awesome and I wish I had done that.. or rather, that I could still do that. But with my constant illhealth the OA is our only steady income and we can’t raise anymore so do what we can in other ways.

  20. Ek Do Teen Chaar Paanch.. jitne chaahe utne karo.. as long as everybody is healthy and sabki rajamandi se hon… Duniya utni hi badi hai aur utni hi choti hai jitna hum use banate hein… Ghar aur sahar tau hame hi banana aur sikhana padna padta padta hei

  21. My ma always says a perfect family is to have a Anna and thangai in the family. N like I’ve mentioned before…I used to feel that the perfect sibling pair is 2 sisters. I honestly don’t u’stand it when I hear of stories when siblings fight for things. My sis and I just weren’t the type. As much as I was ma’s girl, it was my sis that I was really close to. She is the one I went to first, when I was happy or sad. We both studied together, and had fun together, covered up for each other in front of parents and what not. I think I’ve written this on some other post of urs….i will not be who I am…if not for her. N so in my mind it’s got to be 2 children for each family.

    A friend who has a son(2 yrs old) had called me to wish for my B’day and somehow the conversation drifted to this subject and she told me how she always wanted a daughter, but now doesn’t want one ‘coz she feels an anna-thangai pair is the worst. That most often the younger girl ends up being cunning n deceitful and she elaborated this for abt 10 mins. N then I guess she suddenly realized that that’s who my sis has for children and she apologized to me. But I wasn’t offended. I guess these opinions stem from what one has seen around their friends’ n family circle. Each relationship is different and what becomes of it depends on the personalities of the people involved.

    Hmm..I see that adoption is mentioned in a few comments above…well if one is able to conceive and yet chooses to adopt…that’s one of the most selfless deeds they can ever commit. Hats off to such couples, I bow down to them. Frankly I haven’t seen very many couples like that. I am only impressed when such couples talk about adoption, the ones who walk the talk.

    Adoption is a very nice thing to do and well, it is the need of the hour , what with so many homeless children. All our consciences know it and even acknowledge it. But it is a big deal. Yes, one of the reasons too many people in India may not adopt, is mabbe coz of religion, caste, creed prejudices. But that apart..most women want to go thru the experience of being pregnant, of carrying their baby within them, of getting pampered, of feeling the kicks from within…. The things that they have told been told encompasses womanhood. N its no shocker that these needs do get the better of one’s conscience at times.

    • I commented on an adoption comment above and just wanted to add… adoption should be seen as something ‘noble’ or a ‘nice thing to do’. It’s just another way to build a family. My sister-in-law (who had one daughter biologically btw) says what makes her most uncomfortable is when she tells people she adopted and they say “that’s so nice of you”. And honestly – having met my niece, the privilege is all ours.

  22. I am a single kid and I think the only real ‘issue’ I have is that I don’t share food! 😀

    I also took my time to understand physical affection – through pushing and shoving and wrestling and such.

    • I don’t share food either and that is because we were brought up with the strict instruction that exchange of saliva with strangers is unhygienic. I stick to that one.

    • Hi Sravanthi, I have one daughter and she is similar too. While not sharing food is due to us telling her ki jhootta nahi khana she also does not understand ” physical affection – through pushing and shoving and wrestling and such.” I have to constantly tell her that this is alright or this happens when kids are playing , or how to handle it. She understands a little but not all of it. She is 5, I guess eventually whe will catch up.

      In general:
      Having 1 or 2 or 3 kids should be entirely the individual’s choice and once the decision has been made they should be happy with it and work towards the well being of the child. Lets not say singkle child hai isliyery aisi hai, bechari or bada bhai choti behen mein behen become aggresive or younger brothers of sisters are girlish ( what a friend of mine once said. Well I have a younger brother and in no way is he girlish. Ine can’t make sweeoing comments a lot depends upon the childs upbringing and personality that has been developed. So live and let live.

      Sometimes medical reasons come in the way of having another.
      Adoption is not possible for everyone due to family reasons, emotional reasons etc etc.

  23. Four-I want 4 babies. Never mind that a close guy friend thinks that one factor must be scaring a lot of the men away! :p
    There is a twin gene running in the family, so I am hoping that gets thrown in too, so I end up with 3 pregnancies and 4 babies. What you said about a house full of baby babble? My idea of heaven. 🙂

  24. Aww, a really sweet post! Yes, family is what each one defines it to be. i used to get mad at people who’d tell us it’s time to “start a family”, it’s been half a dozen years blah blah…. to me, me and Tee were a perfect family of our own.

    And at that time, I hated being around kids, they just seemed like pests. Now, i want three. but i cant afford three. hope to start taking baby steps with the first one.

    Very sweet.

  25. Well written… As I went on reading, my mind was filled with so many questions. But at the end you had answered all my questions. 🙂
    Just want to add that, what’s the point if you have another baby just because one parent wants it, and have the other parent reget the second baby for the rest of the life…

    • Theoretically it sounds possible. But I don’t find it plausible – I find it hard to imagine a parent regretting a child – unless there is some serious issue. Once you give birth to a child you grow to love him really fast. Irrespective of your misgivings.

  26. I have a sibling, only 8 years younger. My childhood was thoroughly boring and lonely. And my bro used to irritate me like hell once he was a little older (3 or 4 ) and I was a teenager. Our friendship developed only after both of us grew up. Better late than never 🙂
    And that was the main reason why I planned both my kids 3 years apart (didn’t have the guts like you to keep them 2 years apart ) I was in for a pleasant surprise that my son welcomed the baby whole heartedly and can already play with her. Yayy!

    • Any age gap is fine as long as siblings love each other I suppose, but a small age gap gives you the added bonus of them being friends. My mother is eight years older than her brother and she mothered him so. Bathing him, feeding him, taking care of him after school. I think she missed out on a childhood companion and got thrust into motherhood too early. Mind you, no one asked her to – it was just the natural response to having a family member that much younger than her.

      • Ohmygod! That explains it. The reason for my wanting to have babies. The number of baby bums that I have washed, cranky babies that I rocked to sleep is way many to count. And we are not even counting babysitting hours. 😀

  27. being a single kid myself, i am sure i missed out on sibling wonder, i think the husband and his sister act like kids when they meet every year. While i cant imagine a single mothers day or fathers day where i dont send a card and cake back home :)they are still my soulmates n best friends
    i think its completely upto everyone on making the choice of staying with one or being brave 🙂
    anyways i am toh disqualified from entering this discussion, because its just the husband n me as of now..wonder what i would say to this, 3 years down the line 🙂

  28. I look up to my sister for so many things in my life. She is always there for me and she is the kind of negotiator between me and my mom. There is no rule that says 2 sisters are best, or 2 brothers or a brother and a sister or for that matter a single child. What works for one may not work for others.

    I wish I could go for the 2nd one but am really scared to do so because of many factors. My husband is an only child and though he insists on saying that he doesnt miss anything, I feel bad that he doesnt have anybody to share his happiness/sorrow as I do with my sister. Some might argue that we have friends and parents to share. But siblings are an entirely different breed…need to experience to know the difference :).

  29. I am a single child and i loved my childhood – i had my imagination, my friends, family and never felt i missed out on anything. However i would *like* to have 2 kids because i feel today you are a little more disconnected from extended family like cousins i like watching siblings together…but then again i am old and currently have no kids…so i really dont know how i will manage 2 before i turn like really really old …So it’s all a lets see i guess

    • actually this reminds me of a friend who had only one child because she said her sibling had one kid too and the two girls would be close. Now the sibling had another kid and she realised her child would be the outsider and is considering another. I believe we need to make our plans based on what we have and can do and want. Depending on others, waiting for external signs, all just gets rather messy

  30. My SIL has a problem….she’d love to have another baby, but cannot quit working as her husband’s on his own and the security of a pay cheque is hers and she wouldnt have it any other way. She has a 7 yr old son (so no “societal” pressure for the “boy”). But her MIL has asked them not to go for another one, just because she cannot take care of it or even accomodate another babysitter in her routine. To top it all…she keeps checking if my SIL is having her periods regularly, all these 7 years.

    There are all kinds of people!

  31. Phew! I finally caught up with all your posts!
    Such a well written post.
    it is only ONE for us now. I have always wanted to have two, just for our son to have a sibling to grow up with, to gang upon and to look out for and be looked after. Just like you put it. But with a hectic full time job, no maids, and even if say so myself a couple who strive for perfection in every small thing (like home made food, proper habits, clean house every weekend, play dates etc etc) that drive each other nuts doing do, we realized we just cannot do it. I cannot again get up twice a night every day and then go teach 54 students in a class in the morning. Or come up with smart research ideas after pureeing veggies and fruits all weekend. Because of our recently brought house, I cannot give up mu job. Nor am I magnamious to do that. The US dream is vicious one! But we are happy for now as little one is not yet two. Maybe in a few years I may have the “perfect family” but for now we are perfect for each other.

  32. Someone up there told good things about having 2 girls, a girl and a boy…how about telling some nice things about having 2 boys..just as a feel good factor 🙂
    So i don’t end up blaming my better half for the rest of the evening for not producing a girl 🙂

  33. As for inter religion marriages…I am a hindu married to a christian and it’s great that my kids get to celebrate every other festival for which they have a holiday..Diwali, Dussera, Xmas, Easter, new year what not…and Bang in the middle of Lent we even celebrate the Tamil new year 🙂 As for confusion there is none in their minds of we don’t instill any.

  34. Hi MM,
    Nice Post..
    I always wanted 2 kids before trying to have kids…but once we started we struggled for 7 yrs of Infertility treatments and had my girl thru IVF. I was so happy and thankful that I said I got atleast one I prayed, craved , cried for and I should not be greedy for the 2nd one and the age was also ticking. But I guess somethings happen if it has to and we were blessed with another boy who happened naturally without any issues. So my dream finally came true of 2 kids. So to me gender did not matter..I was just longing to hold my baby and finally here I am with 2 kids. Cant describe the feeling. We are blessed thats all I can say.

    Take care..


  35. I think you can’t generalize on any ideals. The ideal marriage, ideal number of children, ideal age to marry etc. You just do what feels right to you and your family and go with the flow. Both of us have siblings and as we look back on pictures and times from our childhood all we remember is the fun. Not the competition to get our parents attention (that happens now actually ;-)) So we hope to have another but the biggest concern there is all the additional work and as Aneela rightly put it, the bottom and wiping thereof!

  36. Interesting points, but I would’ve liked to see you address the issues resulting from having two kids from the same gender. I suggest that there are a lot more Boy-Girl pairings who appreciate having a sibling, than B-B or G-G. Certainly works in your and your kids’ situation.

    Either way, I’m considering this #93 in “The Mad Momma’s Reasons Why Not to Have Children”. Again, very helpful articles 🙂

    • Well I havent had any boys commenting but the girls definitely appreciate their siblings. And maybe there is something to having a sibling of the opposite gender and keeping the comparisons down. never did think of it that way…

      • Not just comparisons, but also the perceived fight for similar resources, and jealousies thereof. No hand-me-downs, no arguing over sport kits, or clothes, or makeup, or…

        Also, brother-sister pairings work really well because a) Elder brothers get a machismo kick with the whole “taking care of little sister” schtick; b) Elder sisters get to fulfil their motherhood pangs (if any) early by doting on their “little boy”. (Aside: I’d love to see numbers of how many girls with younger brothers go on to have kids, compared to other pairings. I’m willing to bet the percentage is way higher).

  37. Heh. I had a sister and at the risk of sounding sacharine – it was more like sharing clothes, makeup, and also sometimes crushes (though we only fessed up about this later) that was part of the fun! I did get my sister’s hand-me-downs but it didn’t bother too much.

  38. well am sorry to add rather morbid story of mine. i hve a sis n a brother. sis was in a terribly competetive relationship with me fr childhood always jealous always fighting always rivalry. tried my best to make it all normal just didnt work out. unlucky me i had better skin color better grades more friends – never knew it will all cost a we r married n settled n in her perception am richer i’ve better husband n most coveted prize of all – a male child while she is ‘burdened’ with two girls. so she has cut us off from life no contacts no meetings not even a hello how r u.

    now brother was a normal kid n we had strong ties but equations changed drastically after his marriage. he lived earilier with my parents n a flood of issues resulting from usual mother in law daughter in a wars resulted. brother was kind of forced to side with his wifey n expected me to follow suit. unfortunately i could not. wanted to keep it neutral – but like george bush bro declared ‘all of u who r not with me r against me!!!’ so there we have lost him as well from our life.
    so here am holding on to a single child n wishing him better luck with relationships in general and happy in many ways tht there r no siblings who can break his heart! belive me none can break it better!!!

    and abt people who said siblings hold the golden key of shared childhood memories it doesnt really apply when u’ve had a miserable abused childhood in the first place n when u’ve rooms where keys r best lost!

    • i don’t know what to say… as I said, relationships don’t come with guarantees.. I’m sorry you went through this and I really hope and pray that even after so many years, things work out and you and your siblings find peace.

  39. In the interests of advancing the thesis of true psychological knowledge you and the OA should have a third child.
    More power to the studious cousin!
    yours very hopefully

  40. Loved your post and compared myself and my brother in the same situation as Tambi and you.But when you mention that the Brat and the Bean enjoy and love each other’s company,I do feel that my little one has come a bit too late and that they will never bond.But I am happy with two daughters and hopeful that one day they will bond well.

  41. Er, I’m a little late, but you think I could get Cousin J to tell me why 3 kids are the perfect number? Not that I have a choice in the matter now, but just curiosity!

  42. Love your writing 🙂 my brother is 10 years younger to me and so he never felt like a sibling. I would like 3 kids too, but considering the fact that we are waiting so long for even the first child I don’t know if we would be upto a second child too.

  43. I just love your posts and I feel a sibling is a must. Ive grown up with 3 and cannot imagine my life or me without them. I think they were so important for the person I am today.I am so glad that you started this blog and connect so many moms with you. You are an inspiration and do visit my blog – which is all about kids in mumbai, reviewing books, toys, places, food, activities et all.

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