A few days ago, my husband came home from work and related how a discussion about kids had broken out in the teachers’ lounge. Apparently, one of the youngish, single male teachers had been quite adamant about the proper amount of children a person should have: two.
Any more than that, he swore, would be too much time, too much money, and too much hassle.
Not long before this little discussion took place, I had followed this post over at Early Mama, discussing the same question. The theme of the post was, of course, that having two children seems to be some sort of ideal. Just right. Not too many, not too few.
I get it, I do. I was terrified to go from one to two kids, because I knew, in a sense, that I would be losing any type of freedom I had. With one kid, we were still at the cute family stage. Mom, dad, and adorable, mobile daughter. Once there were two, gone was the cute, young, blooming family, and in came The Brady Bunch feeling. Suddenly, everything became infinitely harder. Shopping, cooking, even getting dressed in the morning. And don’t even get me started on the horror that is simply trying to get out the door to any function on time. So I can’t imagine what three will do.
But what bothered me most about these “discussions” were the arguments that it wasn’t fair to any potential third (and beyond) children to bring them into the world, simply for a lack of extra finances.
One mother stated that she wanted her kids to have all the opportunities for success that she never had, another felt like it was irresponsible to “get” pregnant if you were poor, others felt it wasn’t right because the children would not have enough attention in a big family.
I find it scary that some people try to determine the “right” number of kids to have, as if such a thing exists. But even more so, I found the focus of money in relation to family planning scary.
Especially as someone who had a surprise pregnancy at a time in my life when I wasn’t financially stable (what college student is?) and I relied on help to make it through. I felt like an inadequate mother for that very reason. And I saw the truth of the feelings conveyed through the words of strangers online–
Poor mothers should be more responsible with their childbearing.
It scared me to think that we have become so focused on providing for our children that we think it’s about money.
Yes, of course, we need to shelter, clothe, and feed our children. But is a mother who is not able to do those things any less of a mother than me because I am able to? Does she love her children less?
We want to nurture and provide for our children in every way possible. But I think we do have to remember that our children don’t need special lessons, or fancy colleges, or the latest and greatest toys to grow up into loving, caring adults. The true lessons that we as parents want to instill into our children can be found in a family–kindness, love, laughter, and what it means to share a room, a house, and the world.