Keeping Mum
Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Two be or ... Three?


There comes a time in every mother's life when your youngest child begins to grow out of her baby suits and booties and you wonder... is this the time to start getting rid of all this baby stuff?

I've had two children - a boy and a girl - a "pigeon pair" as everyone keeps reminding me. Why keep going? they ask. You've done what society / ancestors / Angelina Jolie / the Queen of England required and produced an heir and a spare. Take it easy!

It seems to me that many women who have had three or more children are particularly strident on this point. While claiming they wouldn't have done anything differently, they urge, in harried tones, this mother to haul out her contraceptive and burn her feeding bras.

Naturally when I'm in the middle of five night-wakings a night I'm tempted to agree with this logic. At almost 36, I'm not getting any younger, and every bone in my body seems to feel the tiredness these days.

And then there's my dearly beloved husband, who's weighing in on the debate with a big fat no. He trots out the usual male reasons for sticking to two - "we'd need a bigger car!" (Me: it's not like we were ever going to own a Maserati .. and why do you need a chick magnet set of wheels anyhow??!!) "we'd need a bigger house!!" (me: I shared a bedroom and I turned out okay! - admittedly this is sometimes cue for an even longer argument).

Then of course there's - I feel - the other main male reason for saying no.

It's not been said in so many words by my husband, but many would-be mothers of three I've spoken to say they've also had the message: I want the sexy, sex-loving wife and sex life I had seemingly many years ago before we got onto this child rearing lark. With each baby you look more harried and dreary. I'm going to curl up and die without sex in the next two years (a realistic estimate!)!!!

Fair enough. Children do put a strain on even the best of marriages. But the maternal mind doesn't always work along completely rational lines. After all, would we have any children at all if that were the case?

My maternal mind, addled as it is by sleepless nights, breastfeeding and too much Wiggles watching, is still intent on having three children.

I don't know why; I can't say why. I am one of three siblings so perhaps that's it. But I do feel a slightly bigger family is a nice thing to give your children if you can. We can afford it - just - and I'm happy to put my career on ice for a while longer.

However, I don't intend to do it without my husband's at least semi-enthusiastic agreement. Why? Because I need his help. I need his support. I would like him to enjoy his work - not feel that he needs to go to work every day to feed four hungry mouths and God help us if he has other plans.

That said, I'm working on it. We're in negotiation. Hey, at least if we have another kid we'll have to have sex again at least once, right?!

Pictured above: With the arrival of twins Leon Knox and Vivienne Marcheline earlier this year, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's brood now numbers six. Photo / AP

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