Friday, 25 January 2013

French breakfast

I had a nightmare last night: it was that my husband said that if I didn't want to have any more than two children then he was going to go and have more with someone else. He was very matter of fact about it (in the dream) and sort of morphed into Tom Hardy in The Take - and not in a good way, ladies. In fact, it was ghastly. I woke up feeling uneasy and rather than barking at him and boxing his ears as is the usual way, was very nice all morning.

I have spent the entirety of this pregnancy feeling conflicted and inadequate for loudly calling it quits at two children. "I do not have the guts," I say to people, "for three." And I don't. At some point, you have to be realistic about what you are like. I am physically cowardly, mentally unreliable and morally slippery.

I just want to go on fucking holiday to somewhere hot and sunny and I do not want to have to buy a giant ugly car.

I don't want to do all this without children, you understand. I want to take children on holiday, take them to beaches and swimming pools, rub fragile shoulder blades with suncream, let them have two Cokes with lunch then pretend to lose count so they have three. Later, when they're older and if they're still talking to me, maybe we'll go somewhere crazy with them, like Cuba or India or Russia.

But I do not want to wait another six or seven years before we're able to jet off easily. And if we have three, could we even afford to go anywhere? We'd need three hotel rooms, five plane tickets, eighteen arms. An unlimited supply of benzos. Three children, to me, never seems like two children + 1, it seems like two children squared.

And yet... and yet... I am one of four children. Four sisters. One, two, three, four - that's us. A never-ending stampede of hair and teeth and nails and words.  There are so many of us that we are rarely all in the same room at the same time. Our relationship with our mother is like the painting of the Forth Bridge. Once she's got off the phone with the last one, it's time to ring the first one all over again.

Two children is lonely. Suburban. It's neat and dreary. And what if - oh god, horror - one of them moves to live in another country? Worst nightmare. What if neither have their own children? What if neither turns out to be the life-saving scientist I secretly crave to bring into the world? What if it's the third one who would have found a cure for cancer, or discovered a clean, free, sustainable source of energy for the world?

I am being stupid. Three children would kill me. Kill. Me. And my marriage. And they won't be scientists - who am I kidding. They will be pointless arts graduates like me. And they won't be lonely, I say to myself. They will naturally end up being better at making friends than I was, what with no instant gang at home.

I say two children is lonely but there was no lonelier person in the world than me during the summer holidays as a 14 year-old, sitting out the long, friendless six week stint in our London house, never going anywhere, never doing anything; there were just too many of us, at such wildly different ages, to configure any sort of holiday that would suit everyone. That won't need to be Kitty; we'll be getting on a plane to Croatia, just to see what's there.

This pregnancy has driven me to the edge of madness as it is; I find nothing about it charming, or fulfilling or interesting. It is doing unspeakable damage to vital areas of my body. It makes me a poorly-motived and boring parent. Kitty has already had to suffer the mild neglect and lack of stimulation caused by one extra gestation, why should she have to suffer two?

This is what goes round and round in my head. Endlessly, day after day. I feel like I ought to have more than two children - for Kitty's sake. But precisely bearing her, and only her, welfare in mind, I also think the exact opposite.

I cannot win. I can only hope that it really was only a dream, not my husband whispering sleepy truths into my slumbering ear.

Continuing on the theme of Kitty, I have been forging on apace with her international gastronomic education (just so she knows what to eat when we arrive at teatime in, say, Bucharest).

We have turned recently - keeping things simple - to France.

I am always casting about for things to do with my round griddle pan as part of my resolution not to leave kitchen equipment sitting about idle; I thought I would capitalise on Kitty's love of croissants to introduce a filled croissant to our breakfast repetoire.

A split croissant filled with either Nutella or ham and cheese goes down extremely well and it's very easy to do on a hot griddle pan: split, fill, place on griddle, squash with flat implement for 4 mins each side.

Because if she's not going to be a scientist, she's might as well know what to order on a History of Art trip to Paris.



  1. You DO make me laugh. I have two children and I really wrestled with the idea of three. I was at my most broody after I'd had child no.2, bizarrely. But then one day I realised that I can like the IDEA of something, but not the REALITY. The relief was palpable. I had a shit second pregnancy (but great birth, t'other way round with child no.1 so I feel I've covered all angles now).

    I still can't say 'never' however.

  2. With you on the two children thing! We have two (although I have four, so two lots of two) and my wife is desperate for a third but I would like to see a future where we are not toting around young kids all the time! Problem is my wife is from a big family, she has five siblings and her sister has six kids so she feels that by only having two she is letting the side down. Anyway so I just go off and make a big paella and consign myself to the fact that if a third does appear then at least my paella pan is big enough!

  3. Two children is enough for most people, it isn't a bad thing to want a good life for yourself and your two children and not want to stretch your sanity and purse and have more. Plus I figure there are enough people in the world as it is...

    Mmmm nutella...


  4. They won't be lonely - if anything, I think two children by themselves can become the best of friends. There are six years between my sister and me, so it was harder when we were younger, but now in our twenties we're very close. With yours so near in age, they'll have a lovely relationship (and someone to run about with on all your international travels).

  5. As Giles is just one of two children does he actually want more himself?

  6. Two children, one in each hand, enough cash to see them through uni, house deposits, weddings, imagine doing all that x3! I wont risk my marriage, rather happy family of 4 then simgle mother to 3.

  7. We were going to have more than 2 (I'm one of 3 he's one of 4), but then our eldest was seriously ill for a VERY LONG TIME. I was already pregnant when he was diagnosed (6 months gone) so we had no option to continue with that pregnancy, but the thought that he might relapse put paid to the idea of No3 - going through new borns/terrible twos again voluntarily with a child undergoing chemo at the same time is not my idea of fun. Also, I have 2 emergency c sections under my belt (literally) and I don't fancy another one. And now they are 9 and 6 (and healthy) and we can do all sorts of fun things with them and I am so glad I didn't have another, even though I desperately wanted at least 3 originally. That said, my 6yr old daughter's current stick to beat me with is that she's not an older sister. "Why can't you have another baby so that I can be a big sister" she asks me. Hmm. I have been straight with her. Your breakfast croissants sound lovely.

  8. I have two children 18 months apart (youngest 18mths) and from a position of wanting my ovaries out to prevent the terror of a third, I now drive myself, my husband and all of my friends demented because I want a third. You're not alone driving yourself crazy by having these discussions

  9. We only managed one but if you think it's hard when they are tiny, wait til the teenage years, the problems get bigger, less easy to solve or manage and then the 'kids' have the temerity to have their own ideas and opinions (because presumably one has managed to bring them up to be independent adults which is of course the whole idea) and they won't;listen to you telling them what to do!

  10. It's really hard. we went around and around in circles (well, I did; he was all for it) and just when I'd decided NO MORE, I went and got knocked up unintentionally (tho am sure Dr Freud would have something to say about that). Three kids is shocking; not so much 2 kids squared,cubed. It's like playing chess in 3D. While juggling burning coals.
    Now that we have her of course, I can't imagine being without her, and it's quite nice - for the moment - having a fat ball of smiling love who does nothing to annoy me (unlike her siblings). But the nicest thing of all is knowing we are - really truly & medically - DONE.

  11. What if you were to have twins? What if you are having twins?

    Btw, is it just me, or is the proving you are not a robot kind of hard? Just me?
    Thought so.

  12. I can't tell you how much your post resonated with me. I always wanted to have 3 kids because I was one of only 2 and we had MAJOR issues. but I felt exactly the same as you pregnant second time around (first time too if I'm honeat)and for most of dd's 8 month existence. I have recently started wondering if I could go a third (largely because dd has hit a particularly cute age I suspect) and have to keep reminding myself that I felt that strongly about not having any more for a very good reason.

  13. We have two, and I am now beginning to wonder whether I should have another, despite having just moved the little one into her big girl's bedroom and us having lots of lovely space now. I do love babies.

  14. I really love you. And I really love breakfast foods. This has inspired me to go on a drunk rant about breakfast...tbc.

  15. I always thought one was enough - now I have three - although back to one this morning as the older two were 'stranded' at friends because of snow.

  16. Aside from giving me fabulous recipe ideas, your posts continually act like a contraceptive to me. Pregnancy/being a mother - physically and emotionally - sounds absolutely horrific 99% of the time. Eep!

    1. Yes it's fucking dreadful but it is temporary. The alternative can be worse, and it is permanent.

  17. I have a 4 and 2 year old and my husband has started hinting at a third. I combatted this on a recent trip to Disney World by pointing out people with three kids who all looked stressed and on the brink of divorce. It's worked because he hasn't mentioned it since.

  18. 2,3,or in my case 4, there's never the right number or the right time to have them. Having children is not a science to be calculated- I am one of 5 and he is one of 2 so if mummy and daddy still want to have a life and have holidays how many is right for them?!?! We cope with whatever life throws at us and wouldn't be without what we have; so embrace the pregnancy, and never say never to more kids( I have 4 kids with a 14 year gap youngest to oldest, and wouldn't change a thing)

  19. Elizabeth Medovnik27 January 2013 at 23:47

    My friend is 37 weeks pregnant with her second and happily announces that this will be her last pregnancy! There's nothing at all wrong with having 'just' two if that's what you and Giles want, but it's not a decision you have to make now. I love the idea of three but I'm 39 1/2 and not even feeling healthy enough to try for number 2, plus I realise that it would be tons more work and even two would be a struggle to deal with. I think I just want three because Mimi is so cute at the moment and I have so many names picked out that I'd like to use :o)

  20. Do you know if you're having another girl?


  21. It would be much better for the environment if we ALL had two or less. This planet is overcrowded as it is!