No Right Time

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I come from a large family.

And when I say large, I mean "could have our own TLC show" type of large.

I'm the oldest of 10.

Yep, two whole handfuls of children. 12 of us all together, once you remember to count the parents.

I'll give you a while to take that it.


There are some downsides to being in a big family. There never seems to be enough space forever one. Never quite enough money for everything. And occasionally not enough time.

But the challenges never beat out the joys of having a large family. There are always enough people for board games (just sometimes no enough pieces, and then you improvise. I'll been the top hat, you be the shoe, and you can be rubber frog.) Happy birthday sounds so much better when sung by an entire choir (except when the choir consists of a couple of teenage boys, and then you just take what you get.) And there are enough for two teams in soccer, baseball, or basketball. And with that many birthdays, most of the year is spent in celebration. I always had the largest cheering section at all three of my graduations.

Most importantly, we always had friends. I'm not implying we always got along. Some sibling rivalries were more obvious and intense than others. I had siblings I always fought with and siblings I never fought with. But we never felt lonely.

I love my huge, crowded, loud, talented, chaotic, supportive, drama-inclined family.

But one of the strange things about growing up in a large family is the mind set that starts to set in. We felt bad for children in small families that only had one or two siblings. Or, heaven forbid, no siblings!

I grew up viewing parents who had one, two, or three children as selfish. They valued their time, money, and leisure more then their children. Career or pleasure topped the priority list above family. Small families were created by horrid people who valued peace and quiet more than they valued providing siblings and friends for their children.

I was determined to never be selfish. I was going to have a half dozen of my own children and create as many happy family memories as I had growing up.

(Remember, I was young, and like many very young people was prone to black and white images and a slight inability to view things for others point of view.)

I realized very soon after Bug was born that I was never going to have a huge family. I seemed to lack the pulled togetherness, resourcefulness, and patience of my own mother.

I love my two boys with a fierce, mother tiger like love. I am intensely proud of them, and nearly worship them.

But I came to realize that I was not cut out to be a leader of a very large flock.

And this is where it gets difficult.

I would really, really like another child. Monkey is three. And I can start to feel the baby hunger set in. I haven't felt that, well, since we decided to get pregnant with Monkey. Even when Monkey was two years old, I could hold other peoples newborns, cuddle and coo at them, and not feel one twinge of envy or baby hunger. But since Monkey is now mostly done throwing fits in the grocery store, nearly sleeping through the night, and for all intents and purpose potty trained, my brain has starting letting those TV commercials with wrinkly babies get to me.

Hubster and I have started talking about what our schedules look like over the next couple years, trying to get a good idea about when would be a good time to have another baby.

But I'm looking at 50-80 hour work weeks for the next four years, laden with overnight call at the hospital. Hubster is just finishing up some last minute requirements for his application to dental school.

If we were to have another baby in the next four to five years, that baby would spend a lot of time the same way Bug and Monkey have spent the previous four years. In daycare.

And then we ask ourselves...who's being selfish now?

Is it more selfish to continue with our plans for our careers and future and be content with our two boys? Or at least postpone baby number three four years until I am done with residency, have a stable job with some control over my schedule.? (That would make Bug 12 and Monkey 8 before we had baby #3, just to do some math.)

Or is it more selfish to give into the baby hunger and the theoretical chance of a much wanted girl (who would be just as wanted if they were a boy, just to make that clear) when they would be raised 8-10 hours a day by someone else? Just because we want another baby and would love her (or him) passionately and intensely, could we provide what is best?

Bug and Monkey are turning into well adjusted little boys, who play well with each other and others. Bug does amazing in school. They love each other and know that they are loved. They have done this even with years attending daycare behind them and in front of them. So I'm not saying daycare ruins children, or damages childhood.

But is it best?

When people ask why we decided to have children while still in medical school, we always replied: There is no right time to have children. There will always be reasons to postpone, put it off, delay it. There is no right time.

But maybe there is a wrong time.

I'm not exactly sure what time it is now.


Karen said...

Obviously I only know as much of your situation as you've shared on this blog, and I have never been in your shoes, but it seems to me that there is only one question that you really need to answer.

Do you feel like someone is missing?

Trina said...

I so want a baby boy! We have actually been trying to get pregnant for 10 months now with no real results. The longer it takes the more we think maybe now is not the right time...but that allure of a baby it is so hard to decide.

Emma Lilly said...

I don't yet feel the pull for having kids. Not yet anyway. Maybe a few years after marriage. I always thought I would be a young Mom. Not happening as I will wait till after I'm married. And I'll be halfway to 29 when I get married. I see other people with children and I'm half jealous half terrified. I know my time will come. But it's not yet

todavine said...

I get baby hungry too. When I was pregrant with my first,and we found out that he was going to be a boy, my husband said we are going to have lots of kids in till we have girl. Then he saw what it was really like to have a baby, and he said we're having one more and that is it. I still would like to have one more, but apparently that isn't God's plan, so I just have to accept that.
My advice to you is to pray about it, and you will get the answer.

Bonnie said...

A wise man man builds a house without counting the cost.
I cannot then have any measure of wisdom, because all I knew was that I wanted you and between heaven and earth and family we would somehow succeed. Now I cannot imagine my world without one of you. Nothing would ever make up for that loss. I agree with Karen. Besides counting the material, spacial and emotional costs, is your circle complete? Your beautiful circle is so precious: husband/father, sons. Even given the tasks and strain, you would not choose to trade them though you "selfishly" spend so little time with them. I wonder if the struggle to answer is because love and selfishness have become confused. Love is never a seflish act. Now the burden of living is an overwhelming present. Yet there is a tomorrow and tomorrow is peopled with a wonder and beauty from today's seeds. Perhaps you might ask Tomorrow, "Who lives there?" I am not suggesting a change of plans. You have given your mind and talent permission to expand and be fullfilled. I am so amazed and pleased with the wonder of that world you have awakened in you! Does your heart have permission to dream too?

Jessie said...

There really is no "right" time, is there. I know I've felt that way with each of my girls--just scared to death with the first, then unbelieving that it was "time" to have more with each of the next two--yet knowing somehow that it would work out, it would be right, our family wasn't yet complete. I am fortunate to be in a situation where it isn't a huge burden to our family for me to be pregnant (I don't work outside the home), but I still would like to think I don't take the decision any lighter than you do--another child is a big responsibility, and blessing. I wish you the best of luck as you decide what is in your future--it really is something only you and Keith can decide.

Stephanie Faris said...

I think you'll figure it out in your own time but I grew up in day care and I don't feel I missed a thing. I had interaction with other kids and at night I went home to my mom, who was a single mom. I think loving, wonderful parents such as you guys are in short supply in this world and you should go for it if that's what you want.

lfar said...

I hear this! I'm from a family of 9 (well, 10, but one died as an infant) and I love it so much. I'm not a mother yet, nor even married, nor even seeing anybody, so I'm still in the optimistic phase. I'd like to have about 4 kids, myself. So my vote is for having a third kid, but like I said, I'm naive to the struggles and calls of parenthood.