No matter what stage you’re at in life – before kids, parent of 1, 2, 3 or more, people always want to know if you’re going to have kids or how many you’re going to have. Before I had my first I would get the classic and inevitable question “So…are you going to have any kids?” Everyone would ask, parents, co-workers, friends, relatives, particularly nosy salespeople. It was normal, and I shrugged it off, giving people a non-committal “Eventually, hopefully” type of response.
After I had Finn, and I mean like RIGHT after, people started with the “So are you stopping at just one?” and, “Don’t you want a little girl now too?” questions. I wanted to tell them that I literally just HAD this one that I have. That maybe I don’t want to have another one. That going through an emergency c-section was frightening enough I wasn’t sure when or if I wanted to try it again. Mainly I just wanted to tell them to mind their own business.
I loved just having one, my whole world revolved around Finn and his little schedule. I was wrapped around his teeny tiny finger and could fill my days googling what the best sippy cup was and reading to him endlessly and trying to teach him to say words. Finn was such an easy baby, I worried about having another one. That’s the other thing people would always say “Oh he’s an easy baby? The next one won’t be then” they would say in serious tones. Oh really? Is that a scientific fact? Apparently EVERYONE knows that if you have a “good” baby the first time around you’re doomed to have a demon baby from hell the next time around, there’s no WAY you’ll have another “good” baby.
But I did, I had a nice, sweet, easy natured baby girl. And it was a huge change. Finn already had his little routine and it pained me to interrupt it even just a little bit. I didn’t want him to be awoken in the middle of the night, and I felt bad that I couldn’t spend as much time playing with him now that Levy was here. Changing two diapers was of course double the diaper trouble, and there was a time when they were both really young where I was knee deep in crying baby land. But it passed, and they have grown to be the best of friends. They are two peas in an adorable little pod and I am beyond thrilled that they have each other as friends and built in playmates. People would comment that now that I had “one of each” I could be done, which I always thought was strange. Sort of like I had just picked out matching pieces of furniture, now I had a set!
According to most Americans, two is the “ideal” number of children. Gallup, which has been asking about ideal family size since 1936, says that until 1967, more Americans preferred a larger family, with three or more children. Two took hold in the 1970s and has remained the top choice, with 52% of 1,007 adults in 2007 (the most recent year surveyed) saying two is best.
As Levy and Finn got older people would still ask if I wanted more. Now that I had a boy and a girl I wondered if having another one would throw off their little balance. Plus they were both out of diapers, eating real food, sleeping through the night and were pretty self sustaining at this point, which was nice, of course. I quickly forgot what it was like to change diapers and wake up for nighttime feedings and jumping back into baby world sort of scared me. Two was so doable, three seemed like a LOT. I pictured myself pushing a grocery cart with two kids hanging off of it and one little one in it and me losing my mind. I worried that Finn and Lev wouldn’t get the attention they needed, that they would feel left out with all of attention a newborn needs. But I was one of three, the youngest and the only girl, and I liked having two brothers. Three seemed like a lot, but also like a lot of fun.
Making the transition from two to three was the scariest to think about, but turned out to be the easiest. Jack came on board with the family and just fit right in, and again, he was a “good” baby. The older two just adore having him around and love playing with him, watching him grow, they love trying to teach him words and how to play and build block towers. Since I had two older kids already running around Jack had to adapt and instead of staying home more he would be popped into the baby carrier and off we went to soccer, hiking, the store, bike riding, everything.
What’s funny is that even with three, people STILL ask me if I’m going to “Go for four”. And you know what? I don’t know. Four sometimes sounds a little nuts to me, but I also really love the idea of having a “big” family. My whole house and life has already been overtaken by little shoes and toys and tiny pairs of underwear dominate my laundry. I am fully committed to this kid thing, so maybe having one more on the team wouldn’t be too hard?
No matter what, your ideal family number also has to take into consideration many, many life factors. Maybe you started having kids later than you expected, maybe you had difficulties getting pregnant, maybe you wanted to pursue a career, maybe the timing was just off. I think that whatever number you wind up having is the ideal number for you and your family, sometimes it just turns out to be different from the one you originally envisioned. So what’s your ideal family number?