17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

When is enough enough?

I can't stop thinking about if I am "done" or not. I have three cute kids...will I have more? The question weighs heavily on my mind even though there is no urgency to decide. Here are some of my thoughts:

When I say to myself, "No more, your family is complete" this stuff pops into my head--

--Relief, financially. Someday, sooner than later, we might actually be able to afford a house (and other stuff) big enough for the family.
--Relief, physically. Phew! No more ups and downs, fatters and skinniers, pains and problems. And life with a consistent night's sleep is within view!!
--Relief, emotionally. I will actually get to spend time developing myself in non-mommy ways. I think I have some pretty cool talents and potential skills that I could actually develop and do something with! What a concept! I'm also working through some other important personal issues and I simply won't conquer them until I have more time to myself.
--Relief, romantically. Come on, do I have to explain this one?
--SAD. What if I'm missing out on that one last baby? Don't I want my kids to have more siblings? I really do love my kids and more just might be merrier!

But also

In my mormon upbringing I developed some stupid assumption that a family wasn't really mormon unless they had at least 4 kids. And if they didn't, the woman was either physically unable to have that many or she was selfish enough to put money or career first. I think I was honestly taught that last concept of selfishness in church (which is really unfair), the first just developed in my warping mind.

So I then feel

--I won't be as good as those other moms who had 4+ kids. Shaleen sure is better than me and so far I've got an edge on Kage. (wink, wink, shaleen and kage)
--Other good mormons will look down on me and wonder what's wrong. Why did she stop at 3? Isn't she young and healthy?
--I really just have to have 4. I'm so stupidly stuck on that number.
--I failed reaching my goals which began at 6 kids, then reduced to 4.
--like crying.

So ladies. I want to have kids because I WANT them. Not because I was taught I'm selfish if I'm looking out for my own well-being or because of guilt or self-induced or religious-induced pressure. It may be that more is indeed right for me. But it may not. Obviously it's stressing me out.

How do you all deal with the question of how many kids? And yes, I know: One at a time and pray about it. If it were so easy I wouldn't have written this.


  • No it is not easy.
    I started out thinking 4 kids was the right number. My family had 4. Husbands family had 4. Now I have 8. Believe me, I have wanted to be done, for all the reasons you list, but then it just did not feel right. Thought for sure I was done after #7, then both husband and I had seperate experiences that convinced us otherwise. I wouldn't trade any of them. (Not that all is sweetness and light at all times!) I did learn not to try to make a final decision until the baby was at least a year old.

    Don't get stressed, enjoy your kids and don't feel like you have to decide something right now.
    posted by Blogger Karen at 2/04/2006 10:38:00 AM  

  • I can't wait to see the posts on this subject. I really thought that I would be able to make a decision, but I always waver back and forth with what number we should have. I also have had several people tell me that having three kids would be detrimental because the categories of "oldest" "middle" and "youngest" become so exagerated in a three child dynamic. I don't agree (but I only have two right now) and I am leaning towards three. Good Luck!
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 2/04/2006 11:01:00 AM  

  • I'm in this exact dilemma right now, and for ALL the same reasons. My list looks the same as yours. We are nearing the birth of #3, and people are already asking about the next one.

    Someone actually said to me "But if you have only three, what if one of them dies? You won't have much of a family left" WHAT!!!?? Someone also told me, (I guess assuming, as a convert, I was ignorant) that three children does not fulfill HF's Plan.(Again, WHAT!?)

    Im curious to see what all everyone has to say on this subject...
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 2/04/2006 02:21:00 PM  

  • Yes this has been on my mind ever since #2 became imminent. A few of the TALES girls have mentioned their life-long dream of having 6 plus children. I am the oldest of four. I am very independent. My siblings and I love each other and are extremely loyal to one another, but their presence in my life have not determined how many kids I want. Being the oldest I had to babysit my sister (who is 11 years younger), and drive my other little sister to school, and do "annoying" things growing up. I noticed that my parents weren't super-close to their siblings either. So, my views on the perfect # or on ANY children for that matter were shaped by these experiences, and I have never EVER uttered 6...or any number for that matter. What I am trying to say is that I was MORE influenced by my family situation and not influenced by the church. I was well aware that there were BIG families in the church, and never felt odd for only having 3 other siblings. The most anyone in my extended family have are 5 kids.

    I feel a sense of empowerment knowing that I can choose how many kids I want...whether that be 2 or 12.

    I thought it was not wise to delay starting a family for "financial security"...however now that I have 2 under my belt, I feel like it is ok to reach a few financial or career goals before another, especially since I sacrifice my body to have a third and/or subsequent children, and I need a non-pregnant body for the majority of my career...and it would be nice to have a house for the first 2.

    I also feel enormous blessings not only in the child itself, but in all areas of my life, each time I have had a child.

    Lately I have felt that it might be selfish or not God's plan to stop at 2, since conceiving is like breathing, and giving birth a little like pooping, and I don't have major health complications, and I have LOTS OF TIME on my side. I feel like maybe it is "easy" for a reason. Maybe that is because I am close to many women who struggle with infertility, and I feel that because I have been given the gift of reproduction, I need to make full use of it.

    Praying about it is good.

    Basically, I am living one day at a time. When I was growing up I just wanted to be a grown-up and I had nothing formulated past that, which is turning out to make my life always a surprise, and I love living that way. I live for the day, so maybe tomorrow I will get pregnant with #3...oops, nope, just picked up my ortho-try...

    Great post Katie...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/04/2006 04:11:00 PM  

  • Okay, i was going to be a good girl and just go to bed, but tracy m's comment was sticking in my head - Someone also told me... that three children does not fulfill HF's Plan.

    If someone said that to me, I would kick them in the head. Seriously. I might have to climb up on a chair or ask them to bend down in order to accomplish this, but it would be done. Sure, say it about yourself ("that doesn't fulfill HF plan for me) and I'll support you until the end. But try to say it about someone else? Ummm - see that little spec waaaaaaaaaay back there? That's the line. You done crossed it.

    Okay, so I'm not one of the Tales girls talking about 6+ (see Kage's comment) but it shouldn't matter even if I am. That whole "between and husband, wife, and the Lord" thing didn't involve any specific numbers or additional persons weighing in. Sure, maybe I'm a bit touchy on this one since I have one child and that may be it for me, but I'd like to think I'd feel the same way no matter what.
    posted by Blogger marian at 2/04/2006 09:51:00 PM  

  • I agree, the comment made to Tracy M was way out of line. Were do these people come from? I usually have people asking me if I'm done yet. Yesterday I told someone I was aiming for 20. HAH! not really.
    posted by Blogger Karen at 2/04/2006 09:58:00 PM  

  • As 1 of 10, my mom had the opposite problem, people asking when she'd stop. Of course, my sister is only 6 months older than my son, so there may have been something to that. (yeah, I'm not bitter at ALL)
    DH and I always thought that 3 was our number, until we had our second. We felt we are done. I am the mom of 2 boys, it's part of who I am. I'm absolutely sure that I could take care of more kids, though I don't think I'd like myself very much as I did it.
    Our decision didn't just fall into our laps, we did a lot of praying and mulling it over. And when we decided we were finished, well, it felt right. I like to hold babies, play with babies, and take care of babies. But I really like to give them back to their mommas, so only devine intervention from God is bringing another child into this family!
    Side note: A woman in our ward says that we all have to have 6 children. She swears it's biblical. No, I didn't ask for further clarification, I left as quickly as humanly possible.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 2/04/2006 10:47:00 PM  

  • I started married life wanting six children. I came from a family of four and my husband was a second only child (his brother was nearly 11 years older, oops you were a mistake! his parents say - I know, nice).

    We knew one thing. We wanted them to know they were all wanted more than anything. We ended up with three. And no sons. Because of health issues and my immenent death twice, the doctor said no more. The hardest part for me is I wish I had more. I loved our daughters but always wished there were more. But that's just me. I rarely have looked at another woman, knowing from my vantage point, and wondered why they have the size family they do.

    However, I wish, just once there weren't those people, you know the ones, the ones that told us there was something that made us unworthy of sons to carry the family name. My husband has never voiced his disappointment of not having a son, and I know her's heard the same comments and it weighs on us.

    That being said, the only reason I wouldn't consider starting or having additional children would be the financial one. We have had so many ups and downs financially to know that no matter how you think things will go, they never do.

    I feel for all of you currently in those decision making years. It is even more difficult now I think than twenty years ago to rationally decide which direction to go.
    posted by Blogger chronicler at 2/05/2006 10:33:00 AM  

  • The whole Multiplying and Replenishing the earth thing is something I heard over a decade ago in Seminary:

    You have Four to multiply (you and your dh equals 2 and you times that by 2) and then you need to replace --"replenish"-- you and your dh (add 2 more). This is why people have come up with the number 6.

    Hey, I'm not saying that's docrinal! I'm saying it's what people actually did --but it really was more of a joke, so those people who take it seriously are a little "out there"....

    Have as many as you want. Have as few as you want. Don't feel guilty --and yes, pray about it. How else will you be able to know? Especially if you want God's opinion on the matter.

    And it's never a set thing, anyways. I know women that have felt the Spirit so strongly in telling them they should have another baby (READ FEBRUARY'S ENSIGN) and then the baby died. They still don't know why.

    My mom had 2 miscarriages past 16 weeks in a row.

    You never know why these things happen, but at least we're trying to do what's right. That's got to count for something...

    Personally, I want more than 4. More than 5? Hmmmm....
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/05/2006 02:28:00 PM  

  • What if you and your DH don't agree? For example, I am open to another and I think he might be, but more often then not he says: "we're done" after two. He has one sibling.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/05/2006 03:54:00 PM  

  • You know, that happened to us twice. I wanted to start our family almost a year before my dh did. We went to the Temple and I couldn't get an answer...the answer for me was "ask your husband"....lo and behold, he said he knew the answer was to wait. I had to swallow my pride and agreed.

    It was hard to concede, but hindsight taught me (doesn't it always?) that my dh was right and was more in tune at the time.

    #3 was me being more in tune and we had him 2 years before my dh was ready to have another. :)

    I guess we just take turns.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/05/2006 05:42:00 PM  

  • It took us 3 years to conceive our son (we are one of the friends Kage knows that struggled with infertility) and when he arrived, it was nothing short of miraculous.

    When our son was 10 months old I felt VERY strongly that we needed to try to have another baby, which made no rational sense (10 month old not walking or talking - yikes). I knew that it wasn't "us" making this decision - it was time and we needed to act on it. I was pregnant in a week - our children are 19 months apart.

    Having struggled mightily with infertility for #1 and getting pregnant as easily as breathing with #2, I have come to the conclusion that our children come to us in their own time. I have no explanation for how my children have "arrived" in our family - they're both little miracles. And I am confident that when the time comes to try for #3 that we will be open and receptive to that possibliity.

    I know that there is a third child for us. Maybe though adoption, maybe through my body. But I also know that the timing of this one is up to me. I am enjoying not being pregnant or nursing for the first time in 2 1/2 years. I am enjoying my children, playing with them, watching them become friends. So for a number of reasons, this isn't the time.

    But I look forward to the journey with #3.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 2/05/2006 08:26:00 PM  

  • Karen's simple comment "don't get stressed, enjoy your kids and don't feel like you have to decide something right now" has helped a lot. It's hard not to stress until you have something to fill the stress "void" with. Deciding to relax and enjoy the kids is the right void filler. Focus on the now, the fun parts of now.

    It's so nice knowing how many of you agree with the nuttiness of some ideas out there. Just knowing that I don't HAVE to have a certain number certainly makes me feel free to have that many--because it's MY CHOICE.

    Like when you're a kid and your mom wants you to eat your ham and you keep telling her no. Then she turns her back and you eat it. When she notices you say, "I ate it because I wanted to eat it! NOT because YOU told me to!"

    I love the variety of families out there and how different our families are and will be--

    Also, Kage, you asked about what if your dh's opinion is different than yours. For our #1 I knew when the time to "try" was and finally when it came my dh was at last ready and had a great idea--let's try to get pregnant. ! Good--I'd only been planning on it for a year! I think men often want fewer kids than the women. At least that's the case for 2 of my sisters. One eventually convinced her dh for the "caboose" baby (#6) and the other has decided to just be happy with and cherish her 4.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 2/05/2006 08:36:00 PM  

  • Is it ok to minimize the amount of children you have b/c of the lifestyle that you want? Eg. I don't love the idea of 5 kids in a 2 bedroom apt. ?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/06/2006 04:51:00 AM  

  • Kage, it's okay. But know that sometimes, it just works out that way anyway. My sis in law didn't want to have 5 kids in five years while going to BYU getting a degree but that's what happened. They tried everyway known not to get pregnant. Then just as school was almost finished, 1 class left to take, her husband(my bro) and their oldest son were killed in an accident. So five in fiv e and then two deaths. No one planned it like that, but that's how it turned out. Ugh.

    So lifestyle aside, sometimes things happen you don't expect.

    Don't take this the wrong way please. I'm just way older and see things through a different lens. I remember my group of women asking ourselves all the same questions. We never thought we'd ever see the outside of married student housing!
    posted by Blogger chronicler at 2/06/2006 09:44:00 AM  

  • No one can possibly tell YOU what is the right number of children for you. If you are doing your best to follow the Spirit in this matter, that's all that is important. I actually envy those of you who have this dilemma because I'd love to have a lot of children, but having a first one at 37 after years of trying, I'll feel lucky to get even one more naturally! So consider yourself blessed to even have this choice, but don't let anyone try to tell you what is best for you spiritually. You can't run faster than your strength, etc. We're already too guilty over too many things.
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 2/06/2006 10:06:00 AM  

  • My husband likes to say that we should make important decisions from a position of strength. I think it's a good point, even if I get annoyed at hearing it sometimes. I have two kids right now (3 1/2 and 13 months) and the thought of having another child makes me want to crawl into a grave and be buried alive. My kids are TERRIBLE sleepers when young. My oldest started sleeping more than 3-4 hours at a time at 18 months, and my son hasn't yet started that. So I deal with chronic sleep deprivation for a year and a half with each kid. I am longing for the day when #2 sleeps, and I can get some rest. I never thought I'd stop at two kids, and I still can't say for sure. I kind of feel like there is at least one more that should come down, but I think that wouldn't be for a few more years. I figure I'm still young enough that I can have a good sized gap in the spacing and not run into problems. I'm the "tail" of my family (of 6 kids) by 6 years, so i don't mind the idea of having a lone youngest. DH is the oldest of 6, and neither of us ever wanted that many. Before I married, I thought 5 was maybe doable, but after having one, I never have considered more than 4.

    I asked my mom how she decided to have six kids. She said she wanted 4, but then my sister came along 18 months after #4. I asked why she decided to have me (as I knew I was planned) and she said she didn't like odd numbers. There were 4 miscarriages between my sister & me.

    I too like the advice to enjoy what you have, now. I need to do more of that.

    I also feel like I might be more open to another child after we move out of our itty bitty 2 bedroom apartment.

    (Sorry for the long post. This is something that I've thought about a lot over the past few months.)
    posted by Blogger mindy at 2/06/2006 03:53:00 PM  

  • It is a tough decision. We made it once and then that decision was overruled by a higher power. Guess we dont always know best. SO after surprise #5 (I guess that makes me a mormon mom???) we made really, extra certain sure we were done. It was an emotional decision. As a women it is hard to make you body no longer allowed to perform a function that was made for the womans body. But it was the right decision for my family. For me, I had total clarity in my answer to be done. My body had physically done all it could and mntally, well, I think I maxxed out 2 or 3 kids ago. Tough decision, but you'll find what you need to be okay saying, thats it were done.
    posted by Blogger Linsey at 2/07/2006 11:33:00 AM  

  • I hear ya, Mindy, about more kids sounding better once you're out of the iddy biddy 2 bedroom place. While I was pregnant with #3 I found myself worrying about how I will fit everyone and everything in this place. I felt like I would have been more excited with the imminent birth had we had more room--a space for baby. Baby is now in our room with her dresser in the family room. Ya do what ya gotta do I guess!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 2/07/2006 12:45:00 PM  

  • My wife reads this blog regularly and she was inspired to write a post about the topic of how many kids we should have and how we decide.
    her post
    posted by Blogger Sheldon at 2/07/2006 02:08:00 PM  

  • Wow.

    Ok, first of all, anybody who thinks a family isn't a family until there are 4 kids should tell that to my kid, a child who will probably be an only child his entire life. I'd love to see you burst his bubble when you tell him "Family Movie Night" with Mommy and Daddy doesn't count because there aren't more kids there.

    Really, I give total permission to anyone to kick that person who said that in the head. That kind of talk drives me totally bonkers.

    I think you should be able to have as many kids as you want. Ladies, if you want 10 and you live in a 3 bedroom house (true story!), hell, go for it. Live it up. If you want 2 because you only live in a 2 bedroom apartment and can't stand the thought of converting your closet into the baby's room (again, seen it happen!), good on 'ya. If you want to wait six years because you want to cruise around the world 3 times before you're at home changing diapers, bring me back some saltwater taffy, would you please? (Although I have to enter in this caveat: If you wait, you are increasing your risk for infertility, and you will not know what problems you may have until you start trying. If we had waited any longer, there's a good chance we'd have NO kids. Just my 2 cents.)

    And hey, I've used God's plan and natural family planning, and I've only got one.

    I think the main thing to remember is that God has a plan. He does. I know it. I feel it. I have to believe it with every fiber of my feminine being or my head will explode with the hurt, confusion, anger and pain I've had to deal with over the last 3 years about this issue. So if you don't want to see my brains strewn about your blog, just trust in God that He will let you know when you need to bring another special spirit into your lives. Or not. Not bringing spirits into your home can be okay, too.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 2/07/2006 02:52:00 PM  

  • Thanks Heather...coined well. I think I will keep my closet for my shoes...thank you.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/07/2006 04:30:00 PM  

  • Tracy,

    If someone said that to me or to my wife, we would tell them to go jump on a nail. We're quite happy with three.

    (Jump on a nail is a mnemonic I learned a while ago to remember how to say "you're welcome" in Korean. It's also a great thing to tell people).

    (And for those looking for signs in the word verification, I have this message for you:


    Yep, still no vowels for me).
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 2/07/2006 06:32:00 PM  

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