Thursday, June 10, 2010

not done

"So are you done after this?"

That's a question I started hearing when I was pregnant with Dexter. I'm afraid I probably looked at people who asked me that like they were from Mars because it caught me so off guard every time, but now that I've lived in Mayberry a bit longer I'm starting to get it. (OK, so I live in Normandy Park. Same difference.) People here have 2 kids. Period. That's what you do. I was at a little birthday party with the boys today and everyone. had. two. kids. Everyone.

For the record, I find absolutely nothing wrong with having two kids. There are a lot of good and legitimate reasons why two children might be just the right number for a given family. But as I looked around at the party and realized how crazy I sounded telling the other moms that (shocker!) we might even want another child after we adopt our 3rd, it got me thinking about why exactly we didn't want to stop at two. There are dozens of reasons, but they all center around one main concept: we want to provide our children with the best opportunities in life that we can give them, and having only two children would significantly limit our ability to do that. It might sound backwards, but we actually believe that, for us, fewer children means fewer opportunities.

Don't get me wrong, if we end up having a large family our kids will definitely miss out on some stuff. They might not get to do ballet and soccer and community theater. They might not have their own rooms. They might have to take out loans to pay for college.

But if we only have two kids, how will we provide them with the opportunity to grow up with more than one sibling, more than one different kind of person to help them see the diversity in how people think and behave? How will they learn to cooperate (and scheme and cause mischief) with multiple personality types? How will we teach them to love others, even others who drive you crazy and knock over your block towers? Some of this can happen with just one other sibling... but we dream about our kids playing football or Capture the Flag without even needing to have friends over (though they'd be welcome too!). We dream about our children learning to love people who are not like them, whether they share their genetic material or not. We dream about our children learning about and even visiting parts of the world they wouldn't have known existed except that their brother was born there. We dream about giving our children opportunities in life to taste and see and know the deep love of Jesus, not just through their parents but through their siblings as well.

I know we're naive and idealistic. I know having a large family is hard, especially when the kids are little. But the bottom line is that we believe God has called us to give our children our best, so that they can be their best. We want them to grow and develop into the men (and hopefully women... someday I do want a girl!) that God made them to be. It's going to be hard and it's not going to turn out exactly as we're picturing, but that's OK. We're all in good hands.


Living Palm said...

Haley, this is beautiful. As a mom of four, I heard that question so many times and felt like you articulate so well here. But I never thought to explain it as "limiting their opportunities". Really profound. thank you!!

Deborah said...

You know, I want to have more than two kids for the reasons you've listed because they are completely awesome reasons, but also just to really annoy people because I'm like that. What the heck is up with people who think that people should stop at two and get all judge-y on everybody else who has more than two? THAT'S the kind of thing that makes me want to have nineteen. Except not really nineteen. More like three or four. You know, just enough to annoy the people who think everybody ought to stop at two.

kbell said...

so funny. I was just talking to my friend about how "everyone" seems to have 3 kids and how "3 is the new 2". and how we are looked at crazy for wanting 4 and 5!

Chelsea Lee said...

well miss haley, i can't fault you for wanting more kids... especially since i'm wanting about 10. but i do have to say as a woman who had just one brother, i think all those opportunities you listed were offered to me. and most of them in the most unlikely of places (i.e. sharing a bathroom with oliver). i traveled the world and learned to share and was bold and compassionate (i hope) and i did it all with only tyler waiting at home. just something to think about.

Haley Ballast said...

Chelsea, you provide a beautiful counter-example to the generalizations I have made here! Thank you. Ahahaha sharing a bathroom with Oliver -- definitely a character-building experience!

Rachel Ann said...

This is so an NW issue. I've heard numerous times about the kid issue up there. It's cause everyone's white, middle class, and recycles. Here we've got the big jolly Mexican Mexican gramama in her right mind is going to settle for just two grandbabies.

But bully for you. I've been thinking about how much I want to be a foster parent and how I want non of my own...but how maybe I'm depriving both the blood children and the foster kids of rich blessings if I don't shoot a few out ye ol' birth canal. In our culture, the issue of having kids is not an easy one.

Janelle said...

I love this Haley! You are a great writer. These are great reasons for having a big family.