My Convertible Life

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Definitely Not the Duggars

Four summers ago, we met the T and H families here at the beach. They had come down together from Charlotte, but it was a happy coincidence for us that we were staying next-door to families who each had a one-year-old like us. We bonded over early morning playtime on the beach (why can't these little ones understand the joy of sleeping in on vacation?!) and had so much fun that we made plans to return to the same place same week every year.

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)
I'm not sure why I can't just answer, "Yes -- our family is complete," and leave it at that. Maybe it's because, ultimately, I'm afraid I can't handle a third -- just not organized enough or patient enough or creative enough to manage any more than the chaos I already have. My tenuous hold on sanity and good parenting might not survive two more little hands pulling me in every direction, accompanying me on every trip to the toilet, making demands on my every waking (and sometimes sleeping) minute. If I'm honest, I think we're done because I'm done.

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.

5 comments:

  1. I think it is great that you've been so thoughtful about your choices...and that they are YOURS! We love your family as it is--perfect for you all. So glad to be your honorary cousins. :)

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  2. We'll be done too, for many of the same reasons. Although I have to include that I am a mean mean mean pregnant woman and just can't subject my family to it again. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

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  3. I think I'll always have that same back and forth conversation with myself (about a 4th, in our case). Hopefully, I'll be into menopause before I reach a resolution (:

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  4. Thank goodness you aren't the Duggars. I'd never be able to keep up with the birthdays and would call each by the wrong name. My own four kept me on the run and I would collapse at the end of the day. How did the Duggars ever find time for all these new creations even with extraordinary organization? I guess miracles still happen... The real miracle is how precious each child is regardless of how many we each have. Celebrating their uniqueness is such a joy and endless wonderment...miracles and mysteries never end.

    September 4, 2009 10:34 AM

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  5. We like to consider ourselves "blessedly complete" with two. Our reasons are similar to yours, along with the demands of K's job.

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