How do you know how many kids are right for you?
I always find this an interesting topic of conversation. Probably because almost everyone, from your best friend to a stranger on the street, has an opinion.
When my dear husband and I were blessed with our first pregnancy, and the baby boy that resulted, everyone was thrilled. “Oh a boy, what a way to start a family”. Then we were blessed again, this time with a beautiful daughter. She was not even in the incubator when the talk started. “A boy and a girl, now your family is complete!” For some odd reason, I thought that was a decision for my husband and I to make. Then, when we became pregnant a third time, people felt the need to remind us “They only come two ways, you know”. Yes, we are both well educated. We are well aware of the ways they come. A second boy it was, and now we had the heir and the spare. Life moved along swimmingly until, gasp, we decided to have another. Suddenly, the tone of the remarks shifted. When people inquired about my pregnancy and I replied it was my forth, their faces would drop. I would say the quips were about equally split between “What are you nuts?” and “Better you than Me!” A second beautiful daughter. Two boys, two girls. And then the winning comment became “Two pair, are you going to go for a full house?”
So how do you decide how many? Gone are the days of the white picket fence, car in the garage and 2.2 children. Families today enjoy a diversity that was non-existent just decades ago. We live in a completely different time and place than even our parents did, never mind our grandparents. Every generation faced their challenges. Our generation faces economic uncertainty, war, what seems like one natural disaster after another…why would one want to bring children into this world. The answer is simple…family.
I was raised as an only child. I wanted nothing more than to give my children the gift…and I remind them daily that it is a gift…of siblings. I once had an acquaintance comment “Oh you singletons. You all feel the need to repopulate the world.” Not quite. I do know that my kids are never lonely and rarely alone. Although they find it a tad difficult to appreciate it now, my friends that have siblings assure me that one day, they will. And they will have best friends that won’t ever bail. No matter what.
The decision about how many children to have is a very personal one. Can we afford to live on one income, or childcare if we both work? How many beds can you fit in one bedroom? Exactly how many car seats can a vehicle hold (and don’t forget the other miscellaneous gear associated with raising happy, healthy, well adjusted kids today)? Just how will we pay for four college educations (still working on that one). The questions go on and on. One of my favorite quotes from one of the parenting classes I teach is from a cartoon. The caption reads “This, as with all things, trust your instinct.” You will know.
You just might be crazy enough to do it again. And again. And again…
Four is good for us. I certainly would never say no to another. Inexpensive vacations, two sets of bunk beds and a Suburban that seats eight answered the questions for us. The message I want to leave with you is this. Feel free to decide for yourself . Don’t feel the pressure of others. You will know when your family is…just right.