GUEST POST: On Having More Kids

Laura Marquis is back at Raise A Mother – and this time, she’s contemplating a question that looms in many, many parents’ minds. Laura lives in St. Augustine, Florida with her husband Jeremy, her son Will, her daughter Caroline, and her dog, Lucy.  She works part time and enjoys reading, painting, writing, swimming, and pilates.

My best friend just had a baby, and my youngest just turned two.  This is a classic formula for baby fever, I know, but I have been debating a third child since my daughter was a week old.  She is hearty, feisty, and beautiful, and I remember thinking to myself during one of her loudly demanded nursing sessions that she would be a perfect middle child, because from day one she has been one who will not be overlooked.

Sometimes I think the decision would be easier for me if I fit tidily into a different category. If I were a devout Catholic who believed in eschewing contraception, this issue would resolve itself.  If I worked full time outside of our home, I would be happy to stop at two children, knowing my plate was full (both from my own perspective, and from the perspective of outside observers).  But as an educated stay at home mother who is an evangelical Christian, I live in the grey area.  

I think it’s also important for me to mention that my son and daughter are only 18 months apart.  Sometimes I wonder if some of my longing for additional children comes from the fact that I have been in continual baby mode for so long.  I am also in my early thirties, so even though the fertility window is in no way closing, I am suddenly aware of the finite time period that I have ahead of me before conception could become more complicated.

The arguments to stop having children are easy to find.  My husband and I have “replaced” ourselves and by stopping now we would prevent ourselves from feeling like we were contributing to environmental strains on our world.  A family of four is fairly typical – we can easily find seating in a restaurant and will not need a bigger car or home if our family remains its current size.  Children are stressors, too – precious, cherubic stressors, but stressors nonetheless.  I want our home to be a place of peace for all of us, not a chaotic black hole of lost socks and toddler tantrums.  I want our marriage to survive child rearing as well, and a close romantic partnership takes time and energy.  I also don’t want to have kids as a status symbol – and while I do not believe anyone does this intentionally, I think there is subset of American families whose economic comfort is demonstrated in their family size – they can have more, so they do.

The arguments for an additional baby are less clear cut, and harder to articulate.  Sometimes I find myself having a really lovely moment with my kids and it makes me wish there were more of us, that the joy they bring to our lives could be further multiplied.  And sometimes those lovely moments make me feel deeply grateful and contented, the emotional equivalent of having had a filling meal.  I look at them pretending together in our backyard and want for nothing.  

My grandmother was raised in a convent, having been sent there after her mother died when she was very young.  When she left, her dream was to marry and have a full table of four at dinner each night.  She went on to give birth to my uncle and my mother, and when we had dinner at her house (at a larger table by this point), her joy and peace were so palpable.  When she laughed and clasped her hands together during our conversation, I felt like all was right in her world, and by extension, in mine.  I was part of a fulfilled dream, and could feel that even as a child.  


When my grandmother and grandfather passed away, I received that table.  Even before the birth of my son, our first, we used the table with the leaf it came with, extending it to six seats.  This allowed my husband and I to work at home after hours on a large clean surface, and we still use it in this setup today.  The kids and I paint with watercolors at it during the day, and eat our family dinners there at night.  Sometimes I look at the table while we’re eating and wonder if our six seat setup has any deeper meaning for me, like it did for my grandmother.  Or perhaps, a table leaf is just a table leaf.


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