Friday, September 28, 2007

You want how many?

I love big families. I love the constant noise and fuss. I love sitting around the table with a huge family eating dinner. I love seeing all the stockings hanging. I love the fighting and laughing and playing. I love it all.

I’m one of 4 kids in my family.

I have 3 kids of my own (so far!).

My cousin has 4 kids.

And (ironically enough) all of my close girlfriends want 3-4 children. At least for the time-being.

But for some reason, my Nana thinks I should stop (and be very happy and content) with 3.

As if it would be a complete personal insult to her if I had a 4th baby. (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit here, but it’s still in the arena of truth!)

On Tuesday evening, Nana called to wish my oldest son William a Happy 3rd Birthday. They had the best conversation a 3 year-old could have with an 88 (“and a half,” I know she would add) year-old. I heard a lot of “uh-huh”… and “greats”… and then the finale, “Are you coming to my party, Nana?” (That is, after all, most important to a 3-year-old.)

Then I got on the phone with Nana. I was in the middle of telling her how blown away I am as to how fast the 3 years went by… and where did the time go… when I was cut-off with the –

“I hope you’re done with 3!”

Okay… insert my smiling face here and understand whole-heartedly that my Nana loves me and is truly looking out for my best interests. BUT, she does know that I want (at the very least) one more baby.

There are limited responses (that are PG-rated) that you can come back to with a remark like this. And there are certain factors that I must keep in mind:

1. She’s concerned about the expense of many children.
2. She’s thinking about my well-being
3. **She’s 88 (and a half!) years old and I have to be nice.
4. **She has 3 boys and she wants me to be just like her.

But it got me thinking. Regardless if I have 4, 5, 6 or 100 kids, I’m the one (along with my husband… I’ll throw him a bone here too) who will be carrying the baby for 9 months.

I’m the one who will be getting up throughout the night for feedings. I’m the one who will be carting around diapers and wipes and binkies and toys and books. I’m the one whose car will be dirty with crumbs, crayons, poopy diapers, dirt and all the stuff that goes along with kids and cars.

I’m the one who will be crying in the parking lot of school on first days of school.

I’m the one, Nana. (OK, along with my husband, except for the carrying of the babies, crying in the parking lot, cleaning the car.)

OK? I’m the one!

Not anyone else.

It drives me crazy when I get the comments regarding how many kids one should have or chooses to have.

And this brings to mind my favorite comment of all from my friends with one child: “I know I have one child, but he/she has the personality and energy of 10!”

Really? And you know that because… ??

So to the adorable and well-meaning Nanas of the world. To my girlfriends who stare at me with wide eyes and jaws to the ground when I say I’m ready for a 4th…

I have always wanted a large family. I think I can handle it. I hope I can. It’s just something I want for my life and for my children. I know it will be a lot of work. I know it will be an expense. (And no, I’m not even thinking of college yet.)

My husband and I have considered all of the angles… and at the end of the day, we still want 45 kids. Kidding, of course. I mean 4 or 5.

Okay ladies, I can get off my soap box now.

And Nana, I love you more than anything! I promise I’ll do fine.

- Audrey


Ladybug's Picnic said...

I think 4 kids is great. If I were younger, I'd contemplate more as well.

Pinks & Blues Girls said...

Audrey... this is so funny to me because that same Nana (my mother-in-law!) said these words to me when your Dad and I announced (excitedly, by the way) that we were expecting our 4th child:

"What do you want to do that for? Barry already has his 2 boys and a girl."

And she wasn't kidding.

That baby that I was so excited about having is your sister Jane! Now we all know that Jane has given us so much happiness and love and energy and laughter... she has always been a blessed gift to our family.

I know your Nana loves us all... and we all know that she worked very hard raising her 3 boys. But love is one element that comes roaring through the comments she makes. Even when that love is wrapped in strong opinions!

Just remember that she will love all of your babies.

I, for one, am waiting for the news!

Sharon - Pinks & Blues Girls

Anonymous said...

You're right. It's your choice. My cousin has 6 kids. It's wonderful, and I envy her, as I only have two. But, like you said, it's the mothers that take care of these babies all night long, dirty cars, etc. And I know, because of all these things, that as much as I admire her 6, I only need two. So I agree with you completely, go for your 5 ... or more!

Whirlwind said...

What a great post. Alot of people looked at me funny when we announced our third child was coming (I had a then 7 month old and just 2 year old)even though I was the 5th of 6 children. We stopped at three but there are days where I would like one more. Realistically, we are done, but I think spaced a little differently, I could have done one ore two more. I always loved living in a large family. Husband is an only child, so it's been a bit harder for him to adjust to the chaos of having multiple kids.

T with Honey said...

Family and strangers in the grocery store drive me nuts with the exact opposite statement. "Your daughter is so beautiful. You should have another baby." After 3 years of trying to have Princess and close to 2 years trying to get her a sibling I just don't want to face that question anymore.
It is crazy how other people think they know how many children you should have or not have!

Major Bedhead said...

Yeah, I get that all the time. "You have FOUR kids??" with a gasp of horror, like I said I had 27 or something. Jeez. Yes, I have four kids. Yes, I'm busy. But I'm not a freak show.

And honestly, I would have loved to have had five, but I'm too old and we're too broke, so we've stopped. I will freely admit to getting a moment of totally bummed-outedness when I hear someone announce their pregnancy. (Hi, Mrs. C!)

I just don't understand why it's anyone's business to comment on how many children you do or do not have.

t with honey, I can't even imagine - how do you avoid not slapping people who say that? I try really hard not to ask if someone's planning on another. Unless they're a very close personal friend, that issue is none of my business.

Kris said...

I love your mom's comment! :)

I would like another, a fourth, and it's my mom that bristles every time I mention it (I actually don't mention it to her any more). The funny part is, I was her surprise fourth baby, and I don't don't know what she would do without me. LOL.

kittenpie said...

I always wonder why people think they have some say in all fo this. Like my friend who is constantly bombarded with people asking if she is getting engaged alrady or what? And another friend who started hearing about when she sh/would have babies from the day she got married. Do these people not have their own lives to manage? would they not resent the intrusion if the tables were turned?

Carla said...

You go girl!!

Tricia said...

People are strange. I say go for whatever you want--although I think you've already decided! :)

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

How do you have the ENERGY?! That's what I wanna know! I'm WIPED OUT with my 3. I figure if I want a girl, I'll have to get a dog. (and I'll name her Lydia--my name for all 3 who turned out to be boyz.)

Playdate? Soon!

Marie said...

I grew up in a family of 7 kids. I found comments such as "How many kids is your mom gonna HAVE???" very annoying. I run into SO MUCH judgementalism from others about bigger families, as if it's irresponsible or uneducated. I run into it more because I only have 2 so far, so people don't think of me that way. But I love big families, too (though my husband's quite sure he doesn't want more than 3). Go for it. Big families are fun and interesting, and so rich... kids who grow up in big families are privileged.

Your Nana sounds cute, though. My grandmother thinks I really ought to have a girl. I think another boy would be really cool, but she really hopes for my sake I have a girl.

Anonymous said...

What do y'all say to folks whose position it is that overpopulation is a real problem, and that contributing to it is selfish and irresponsible?

Is it a case of "if I can afford it, what does it matter?" or what?

Just asking. Because there is another side to this and I'm curious if anyone thinks about it.

Velma said...

I've always thought that as long as people are ready for lots of kids, good for them. Sure, I think the problem of overpopulation is something to consider, but I also think there is some validity to the "if I can afford it, what does it matter?" school of thought.

It comes down to that loaded question - who is going to determine my reproductive choices? Me? Or someone else who thinks they know what is better for me? Women who don't have control of their reproductive choices, through culture or poverty or ignorance or tradition, are a far greater threat to the health of the world (and themselves, and their children) than what we are talking about here, which is a carefully considered choice by a stable couple to have 4 kids instead of 2.

My $.02, I guess.

sandy shoes said...

Velma's right... it's about who gets to decide.

cape buffalo said...

Personally, I believe in zero population growth as a principle and would love to have one more (we only have 1) but the husband is not on board. People to tell me to just go ahead and "trick" him.

Um, hello? Shouldn't this be HIS choice, too?

At the end of the day, I'm glad we all have the power to choose what happens to our bodies, whether we want to become mothers (and how often) or whether we're happy without kids.

Candace said...

all I'm saying is....
I recently thought I was preggers after having my tubes tied (don't ask-very LATE arrival of friend) and my hubs and I were both very sad that the EPT was negs...
so, I get it. have a freakin' million.

Alex Elliot said...

I have to admit seeing a few positive pregnancy tests on blogs this week made me wistful. That being said, I'm doing a really good job of getting rid of baby things!

pinks & blues girls said...

anonymous - For me personally, the day I want someone to dictate how many children I should have, I will move to China.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Marie said...

Anonymous, you may not agree with me, but I believe overpopulation of the earth is a myth. I don't think it's a legitimage concern or that it should hold any sway in a couple's decision about how many children they should have.

Pinks & Blues Girls said...

Anonymous... I think that the word "overpopulation" in any reference to a stable couple (financially, emotionally, etc.) simply contemplating having a 4th child is way over-the-top. The comparative relation between this family... and the explosive population problems in many areas of the world... is simply an imbalanced conversation.

Sharon - Pinks & Blues

cape buffalo said...

Overpopulation can be a loaded term, especially when you get into conversations about reproductive choice, so let's take that word off the table and swap it with a term that is acknowledged by sceintists and ethicists the world over and that's CARRYING CAPACITY. Carrying capacity is a term that refers to the ability of a particular species to live in a certain place given limiting factors such as food, water, habitat, etc (here's a university site with the definition (

So, you may say that your hometown isn't particularly crowded, that there are parks and open spaces and clean water coming from your tap. Who grows your food? Where does your town get its water supply?

The question of financially secure a suburban family having more kids may seem small, but our choices do have an impact outside of the four walls of our home.