So, Back to the Candy Jar … or No?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just as I was about to hop off the fence and put my  feet squarely on one side of it, things quite suddenly changed. And now I’m back on it, wobbly, and wondering how to get off of this post for good.

I’ve been on this thing for months. The fence is a barbed one, wrapped up in so many prickly factors and considerations that’s it impossible to sit comfortably on it for very long. Should we have more kids or stay steady with one?

Seven months ago, this question was the beginning of a longer conversation. Three months ago, I was feeling more settled, more sure of where I stood in that conversation. Then last month—for reasons still unknown— that whole bed somehow got unmade.

This baby deliberation is one of a few decisions I’ve been mulling over lately. Things like, should I sign up for a marathon (probably yes), and should I cut my locs (another strong lean towards an affirmative). But this maybe-baby situation is clearly the loftier deal.

It’s one of those topics that people don’t commonly talk about. Often it seems that folks have had their number set in their minds for decades. Talking to moms for this blog, I hear a lot of this: “I’ve always wanted X number of kids. ”

For some women, the number changes once they get older and closer to actually starting a family. But then many simply stick with their number, no matter what new factors pop up in their adult lives.

I’m a journalist, a reporter. I’m curious by nature. Still, I don’t feel like I could come right out and ask women I meet questions like, “Say, why did you stop at one kid?” or “Four babies, huh? What gives?” Doesn’t seem right. Not at all. More like prying, really.

Still, I’d like to hear other people’s stories. I know that what one person decides isn’t going to make up your mind. But hearing another person’s rationale, how they got where they stand, can possibly help frame things for you. Sometimes hearing why they did it this way gives you more to consider—things that never crossed your thoughts—and helps you carve out your own answer.

For example, a friend who is caring for an ill parent recently told me how much it helps to have another sibling there to shoulder some of the stress and responsibility of the daunting task.

But then another friend with two kids said that it’s not twice the amount of work, it’s more like 10 times as much. She said everything—bath time, nap time, bed time, travel, meals, just getting out the door—is that much more involved and difficult.

I think about my childhood; how with four kids everything was more involved … which actually meant more fun. Christmas, family vacations, even Sunday dinners, were a good time simply because there were more of us. I have buckets full of wonderful memories of time spent with my siblings.

And then there’s my family—the three of us. I love our little crew. Things are balanced, fun, exceedingly good. We have our routines, our systems, that work well. We’re pretty pleased with all of it. In fact, it’s hard to imagine adding another person to the picture.

So, what to do? How to move forward and make a decision, one that feels right in my bones?

I still don’t know. And this fence might soon collapse beneath me! But somehow I remain confident that whichever side I land on, it will be right and smart and fine.

  • 1
    chineze says:

    I would like to have 3 children in all. I have one now that just turned 12 so I’m a little behind in the game. :-) My reasoning for wanting more children is I’d like to have a large family in my older years. I want to have a lot of grandchildren running around on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

  • 2
    nblades says:

    I don’t have kids yet but I’d like to have 3 (I sometimes teeter to 4 – gasp!) I’ve always enjoyed my large, loud, colorful family and would love to have one of my own. Even now that we’re all grown up my siblings and I are pretty close. It’s nice to know I always have a small cheering section behind me.

    Great post! Excited to see which side of the fence you land on.

    • 2.1

      I know this large, loud, colorful family you’re talking about. They are indeed something special. :-)

      Four kiddies, you say? Hmm…that means a healthy nest of cousins for my young’un.