Since that first summer, our group has grown from three babies across three families to nine kids and four families (two with three kids each). For my children, it's all the fun of having seven extra cousins without any of the work. For me, it's a joy to have interesting people to talk with and share life with, outside the busy context of our "regular" worlds back home.
One of the topics of conversation this summer has started with the lead-in, "So are you guys done?"
Over the past year, my husband and I seriously considered joining the three-is-the-new-two approach to family planning (I mean really, I have SO many friends with three kids now). In fact, it was a tougher decision than I expected. After growing up in a family of four, I always assumed I would have two kids as well -- but it's such an amazing thing to create a tiny person out of nothing and then watch him or her grow, it's almost addictive. Our children are beautiful, healthy, funny, smart and interesting (if we do say so ourselves), so why wouldn't we want more? Plus, maybe if we had another one, I'd get one who looked even remotely like me (although probably not).
But my response to the question this week has been, "Yep. We're done." Followed immediately by a long-winded explanation of why we made that choice, including a host of reasons like...
- our age (I was already "advanced maternal age" when Pippi was born, which is still several years younger than my husband)
- our cars (which are paid for, but can't hold more than two car seats)
- our energy levels (severely depleted after not sleeping through most nights for the past four years)
- our marriage (which doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves while we try to manage everything else)
- our concerns about a third c-section (which means a longer, more painful postpartum)
- our finances (which are holding on for the moment, but would get thin with more family members requiring food, clothes and college funds)
But then I hold a sweet new baby, sniff that fresh baby head, cuddle those tiny rolls and creases. In that moment, I think maybe just maybe we rushed into the decision to stop, maybe there's another baby in my heart, maybe we really could manage three.
And then that sweet new baby starts to cry or spit up or fuss and I remember how hard and exhausting and lonely those new babies can make me feel. And I'm over it.
Thankfully, our beach friends aren't done yet, so maybe there will be more sweet babies to hold and snuggle and sniff next year -- and then (thank goodness) quietly hand them back to their parents.
Note: If you don't get the title of the post (or if you have suggestions for a 19th "J" name), go here. And if you haven't commented on my post for the contest at Triangle TRACKS yet, Friday is your last chance.