With the exception of the Duggars, who seem to be on a mission to inhabit the earth with their spawn, the days of super large families are mostly a thing of the past. My dad was part of a family of eight, and that was par for the course in the area he grew up in in Rochester, New York. He began working as the guy who set up the bowling pins when he was about 8, and gave his paycheck to my grandfather for years after that.
Most people teeter between two and three kids, which is right where my husband and I are right now. The kicker is that I’m 40, which automatically conjures up images of me going to said child’s baseball games on a walker. Okay, it might not be that bad, but you see what I’m saying.
The thing is, you can’t control when you meet your match. I remember when I hit 30, with no husband in sight, thinking that a sperm bank might be a real consideration in my future. I knew I wanted kids and I knew that time was running out. We’d all heard the old adage that a woman in her 30s was more likely to get hit by a car than to get married. Hrmph. To boot, every woman in that situation likely remembers the infamous Oprah episode about infertility in women 30 and above. I know I watched it, box of tissues in hand.
Fortunately, I have two healthy boys and a husband who loves me, so things weren’t quite as grim as they seemed on that ominous birthday. Of course, however, there’s always that existential question — is something missing? For me, it’s the experience of having a little girl. Granted, I’m no fool. I do know that if I went for it, I’d just as easily end up with three boys (who I’m sure I’d love, once I pulled all the hair out of my head).
Then you have the people who put the fear of god in you about the third child in general — you know, losing that man-to-man defense. I've witnessed it with my own eyes, as my niece, who is the third child, is often doing her own thing (read: missing) at my brother’s house. Add to that the exhaustion of — well, being 40, and it’s an intimidating task.
There are plenty of people willing to spread their unsolicited advice around willy nilly, too. I was once in line at the grocery store with my two boys when a woman, only slightly older than me, smiled and asked me if I’d thought about going for a third child. When I told her we were undecided, she said, “My husband and I did and then we got divorced.” Okay, then...
Another factor, whether I like to admit it or not, is financial. I grew up in a very comfortable, middle-class family with one brother. We weren't rich by any means, but we went on vacation every year and had all our needs (and many of our wants) met. Having three kids means three mouths to feed and bodies to clothe and, most likely, sending three kids to college. Can you even imagine the tuition costs in about 17 years? My heart just did a triple back flip. Side note: Have you ever seen how much cereal a little boy can eat? It’s downright terrifying.
As many negatives as I think about, however, there’s always the nagging feeling that I’d love just one more... you know, Hail Mary style, just under (okay, maybe a bit over) the buzzer. Three little ones to love. Three kids coming back to see me at the holidays. Three sweet mouths to kiss. A friend of mine just told me that I’ll know when I’m done. But how do I know? So many questions, so little time.
Did you know how many children you wanted to have? Did your decision change? What factors went into your decision? I'd love to hear about it — tell me in the comments section below.