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The ideal number of kids

standard March 10, 2009 6 responses

How many kids do you plan to have?

That was one of the questions that M and I had to answer during our first pre-marital counseling sessions. There we were, sitting at opposite ends of the rabbi’s office, quiz papers on our laps, answering all the topics she thought we needed to cover before walking down the aisle.

We kept giggling as we moved from question to question. Giggling because we knew exactly what the other was answering.

Who’s the big spender? Uh. Duh, me.

What’s your ideal Saturday night? Movie. Couch. Cuddling under a blanket. It was true in 2002, it’s still true today.

How many kids do you plan to have?

I answered 4, M answered 2. It was the only question that we answered differently, and even as we wrote the answers we knew we were answering them differently. I wanted more kids, he wanted fewer, we figured we’d come to a consensus eventually.

I wanted lots of kids. Lots of delightful, funny, curly blond kids. Four seemed like the perfect plan. We’d have two, wait a couple years, and have another two. I’d have more than two kids and each kid would have a sibling close in age. Ideal.

M wasn’t such a fan of my four kid plan. I figured he’d meet the first one, fall head over heels in love, and come around. I was dead wrong about that. In fact, it ended up taking a lot of convincing for him to agree to a second. (And maybe even a little underhanded scheming that we won’t mention here. Ever. Shhh.)

When I first held Little L in my arms I refused to believe that it might be the last time I’d hold my own newborn. I couldn’t fathom that I wouldn’t be putting a babe to my breast for the first time ever again. I acted like it would be. I savored every moment. I refused pain medication so that each memory could be crystal clear. But a small part of me assumed I’d be doing it again eventually.

For months that was my rationale. I acted like she would be my last, and hoped that she wouldn’t be. She didn’t let me sleep for 16 months and it almost drove me insane, but I still assumed I’d be doing it all again sometime. I’d rock her to sleep and think “next time, next time, I’ll do this differently. Next time maybe the baby will be a better sleeper. Next time…

And then miraculously Little L started sleeping. And talking. And really communicating with us. All of a sudden we aren’t spending every waking hour reacting to a baby’s demands, instead we’re enjoying quality family time.

This weekend we went for a nature walk and we made cookies. We laughed at each other’s jokes and ran around the house chasing each other, giggling hysterically. We played games. We talked. We ate all of our meals as a family. C shared inside jokes and Little L kept telling us we were “founy.” It was a good weekend, a really good, fun weekend.

Last night I went to bed and I realized just how nice it was to be done with the newborn stage. To be past that screamy-angry-baby-crying-but-you-have-no-idea-why phase. To not have to wash a million bottles, or change diapers every ten minutes. To not need a special tub to wash the baby. To constantly be guessing about the next best way to get the baby to sleep/eat/poop/etc. And for the first time ever I caught myself thinking that I would be OK with being done. It feels right being just the four of us. It feels complete.

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6 responses

  • What a great post!

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I got a lot of grief from my mom friends for not embracing the newborn phase – but it was never really my thing.

    As my kids grow older and become their own little people, I love being a mom. They crack me up with their wacky observations and honesty.

    (P.S. I used to want 4 kids, too, am very happy with my 3)

  • Teresa

    Great post! The ideal number of kids is a tough call for all of us, I think. I left it all in God’s hands, and HE decided that my magic number was three. 🙂

  • I love this post! I go back and forth (as you know). Some weeks I just ache for the next one.. and some weeks I’m so done.. and some weeks I get that same feeling.. that “this just feels complete”.. so we’ll see. I’m leaving it all open regardless…

  • wonderful post and oh so true. If I could skip over the pregnancy and first year i’d have 4. Right now we have 2 and the hubby wants 4. The thought of going through those first two stages another time scares me and I have been debating if were really “done” at two or not.

  • Fantastic read as always. I’m glad you’re feeling comfortable with your family and your weekend sounded wonderful! We have one 1 child who is turning two and I’m trying to ignore my baby itch. She was also an awful sleeper (I feel ya on that one!) and is such an intense kid. I must be crazy to want to do it all over again, now that we’re just starting to feel a little less manic 🙂

  • What a wonderful post. Although some days I “miss holding a baby” I’m very happy with my three great kids!

    p.s. I found you through MomDot.. 🙂

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