When in doubt, just have more kids

The story goes that for years, my mother's mother was never happy to hear that she would be having more grandkids.
My parents would take her out to dinner, butter her up, let her down gently with the news of a baby on the way - and she would be furious.  Mostly with my dad.  He had no right, she told him, to do that to my mom and to their children.
(As if it wasn't her choice too!)


My parents more than held up their side of the family (with twelve children!).  My mother's other siblings, however, have all had smaller families; some struggled with infertility which even left them childless.  I vividly remember the day when, years ago, we were piled in the van leaving my grandparents' house.  My dear Grandma came to the open window and asked Mom, "Couldn't you just have one more?"

This cracks me up, and for many reasons.  I wonder how I will feel about the decisions that I am making 30, 40, and 50 years from now?

I don't presume to tell people how to live their reproductive lives (ha!); nor do I adhere to any Quiverfull Movement weirdness.  But (if you recall) I am fascinated by demography - and I do wonder what influences people most as they make their family planning decisions.   Money? Time? Culture? Career? Standard of Living?
And do these factors change over lifetimes? Generations?

And since we're on the subject ... what do you think about spacing siblings?   Heaven knows we can't control it completely, but if you could, what would your ideal family look like?  Kids right in a row, or three years apart? Six?  Please tell.


Fig said...

That is hilarous about your grandma.

I am so glad to live in a time when it IS her choice too.

We are thinking we'd like three year spacing, insofar as we are able to control it.

I wonder about this. I wonder if it was only the promise of the future that got our mothers through raising so many babies at once. Babies are hard, yo.

Tay said...

I thought I wanted 3-year spacing. But after I had Sean, something was nagging me in the back of my mind (GOD) that I shouldn't wait that long. And then I had to convince Brian that it was a good idea to listen to that voice, that 3 years was too long.

So far, It's a good thing I listened - my boys seem to just really love each other. Alan seems to be in a hurry to get big like Sean, he really wants to play with him for real. Did I wait too long? Maybe.

But now I don't feel that nagging feeling. All I feel is perfectly content to wait a little longer this time. And that's a good thing, because MAN am I tired!

I thought the timing was all on me, but I'm realizing that I will know when to have another one, even if I can't really plan on when.

Jean said...

Fig - yes. They are hard. And some are harder than others, which certainly plays a big factor in the Planning Dept.

And Tay - yes (again). I'm sure you will be glad you listened, even if you don't find out why for a while. Personally, I've always thought that the first two should be pretty close in age, if only to bear the brunt of new parenting. :) After that a break is certainly warranted.

Melissa said...

I love this question because people love to ask me when the next one is coming since I had a honeymoon baby and then another one 15 months later both of which were unplanned. And my mother in law had 7 kids in 9 years. I am wormout with two so amazed at how well she handled them. Which now there is a family saying since many on my husbands side have 7 kids that it takes seven to get to heaven. But in hindsights I'm so happy for the unexpectedness of them and to have them so close together as well as fast in the length of marriage aspect now that I have infertility's ugly head in the picture now. I wish it was possible to just look into the future and know how many you will have and what would be a good spacing for them because I thought 3 years was good between number 2 and 3 but apparently there is another plan.

jessicaholtey said...

I love love having mine close together. They are just under 20 months apart. It really is not as bad as people have told me. I also went into the having kids thing thinking 2 years, but also had the nagging and low and behold we have Olivia and its sooooo great!! Really its not that bad!

The Munchster said...

I've always thought kids should be 2 years apart. It just seemed right. Unfortunately, the timing that we want hasn't really happened. Who knows what's going on... I guess my only experience comes from my siblings and I, and I feel like I was closer, growing up, to my brother who was 2 years older than me, than to my brother who was 3 years younger than me. But now we're all friends, so does it matter in the long run?

I was talking to a woman at the playground yesterday who was expecting her 4th child. I was wondering aloud how that is to have a bunch of kids instead of just 1 and she said something like "Well, with one, there's a lot of boredom, sitting around and trying to entertain a not-interesting person. But once you have 2, it's not boring anymore, so you start to have more fun." I agree that with one, there's some drudgery (a lot of fun, too, but let's face it. Who hasn't felt lonely when they're at home with their clingy child who can't entertain themself), so I look forward to having 2.

Also, that story about your grandma cracks me up. Furious to be having another grandchild...and the fact that they learned to "let her down gently." So funny.

Bonnie said...

Okay, I was signed in under a different email address, but "The Munchster" (don't ask about that horrid title) is me. :)

Also, I always thought I'd want a lot of kids, but with Adam's career maybe making us a traveling family and us realizing that parenting is actually one of the more difficult things we've ever done, I'm reconsidering. Is 2 too few? Being under the replacement rate is bad, right? I kind of feel like I'm too much of a wimp to be one of those supermoms who has a ton of kids.

Jean said...

Bons - I wondered. :) And my sister has said the same thing to me, about the first being the hardest because you have to entertain them all the time. I just can't do that for 6 kids! And fortunately they do it for each other.
Traveling is a big factor in itself! After watching Angie travel with her tennis-pro husband and 3 kids, I have told myself that I wouldn't do that either. So uh... I wouldn't blame you for just having 2. Moving is a nightmare even without kids.

Heather said...

Oh my goodness... Isn't it so crazy to be deciding things like this!!! We have three perfect little boys and adopted a little girl last april they are all about 2 years apart, so its busy but amazing!!! As the saying goes it might be a crazy life... but its our life!