Friday, February 21, 2014

How many kids do WE want

I realize that with our last two posts were about how Cait is fertile and asking how you decide how many kids to have might lead some to think that we are really close to deciding to get pregnant again.  I do have to admit that we have a pretty short history of times in our marriage where Cait was fertile, either not breastfeeding heavily, or pregnant, or having an IUD. Probably 6 months total in our five years of marriage. That being said I think we are pretty firmly at 2 kids for now. But I also have to admit that the old sidebar on this blog talking about how impulsive we are still very much applies, as in evidenced once again in my previous blog post on attending seminary.

Let's start with this: Our reasons for having kids, or not having kids, should not in anyway be taken as judgement for those who do or do not have kids based on different reasoning. It is so complex a decision that we really all have to admit that we are inadequate for perfectly making the decision for ourselves, let alone others. I think that is one of the reasons why this isn't a publicly discussed topic, both because it can be sensitive to the person who is asked, but that the answer can easily be taken as another front in the battle of who is the best parent, which certainly needs no more fronts on which to throw ourselves into combat. Now that is out of the way and let's move onto what we all came for.

I don't want anymore kids. There, I said it.

Part of me, of course, really wants more kids. Babies are cute. Our kids are cute and I love them probably like I would love any other kids that came into our lives. I want my kids to have friends. I don't want to be alone in my old age. All reasons left in the comments of our last post. Nevertheless, most of the time and with most of my rational mind, I don't want any more kids.

Here is some of my (once again, admittedly inadequate and highly personal) reasoning:

1) This is already hard enough. A friend from the MESA program at BYU asked me what the hardest part of being a parent is as she and her spouse were contemplating having kids. For me the answer is pretty clear: I am so often deeply disappointed in myself as a parent, and dealing with that self-dissapointment is really tough. I am usually a very patient person, but with my kids, my patience runs out agonizingly quickly. I am already so far away from the kind of parent I want to be, and it is significantly harder to get close with two kids than it was with one. Yes, it will get easier as they get older, but I think I've already made as much of a compromise between present difficulty and future good times as I am willing to make. This, of course, has to do with my choices as to parenting style, but I'm not willing to make much more of a compromise on that either.

2) People are hard on the planet, and I want to be careful about how many I add. I realize that the environmental impact of having kids is a really touchy subject, especially among Mormons, "Zero population is the answer my friends" and tight jean dancing (sorry for the inflammatory title, find me a better one) and all that. But this is a legitimate reason in my mind for not wanting any more kids, and this is my blog, or at least our blog. Yes, population models show that we'll eventually peak, although there is plenty of dispute as to when and at what number, and that this decline will bring with it very serious problems of an aging population. However, a) I've done my part to keep us at replacement population and ease the transition b) I think the problems of an aging population are much easier to deal with than that of an ever growing one and c) it is pretty clear that the main decline will come from educated people in developed countries having less babies. That's us. It's also clear that even though we'll peak as a population, we are going to do some pretty radical damage to the planet in the meantime. Yes, two kids vs four kids will not make any real difference in the outcome of the future of our planet, but fighting against the tragedy of the commons is one of my main life goals.

3) I've lost trust in that quiet voice telling me that there are more kids for us waiting to come and complete our family. Yes, Linus and Clementine might be up there somewhere begging for us to let them come down. I take that possibility seriously, in large part because I believed it to come from God for so much of my life and because people that I love and respect believe that this is true for them. But, like so many things that I believed to come from God before my faith transition, I have found other explanations for this impression or feeling that make more sense than having it be from the Spirit. Out of respect for those who firmly hold this belief, I'll limit myself to saying that there are (or at least were, pre-industrialization) very clear benefits for our species to have our minds consistently whispering to us, in whatever form we are most likely to accept, that we should have more children. I know even that amount of alternative explanation will be offensive to some people.

So, there you have it. And now we'll feel silly when we announce our next pregnancy in six months. But what is a blog for except making yourself look like an idiot for the world to see?


  1. I thought I was done. But now Jones is almost 4 and my kids got easier and now we're talking about a 3rd. I think it's ok for your number to flexible. Life changes, your kids change, and who knows where you'll be in 3 years?

  2. Ha! Nice finishing sentence.

    I'm all about being flexible, too. Why tie yourself down to a certain number? Just go with the flow and see where life takes you.

    I am SO with you on #1. I have become such a horrible parent. I thought I did pretty good with one, but I'm failing on a daily basis with two. I'm terrified of what will happen with our third.

    I obviously don't agree with your #3, but I'm not offended. I appreciate your tact.

    Loved the Saturday's Warrior reference! Good times.