31 January 2008

Concordian Siblings of Perpetual Parturition

Reb. Mary asks me off-blog how the other kids are doing, and if she's alone in feeling guilty about screwing up the status quo for the ones we already know and love. I think it's a question we all wonder about.

A lot of times, the excuse people give for not having more kids is that it isn't fair to the other ones, that it amounts to depriving the kids they already have of things they'd have otherwise. I think "things" is the operative word there. A friend from a two-kid family explained to me how nice it was that she and her sister both got cars when they turned sixteen. A mom who admitted to wishing they could have afforded more kids said that their family size meant her son had music lessons and her daughter played on a club team. Don't think this doesn't appeal to me. One of the biggest temptations parents face is giving their kids everything. I'm sure a lot of people would have felt bad for our kids if they'd seen our tree on Christmas Eve. If we were done now (or had been done two babies ago, like any sane people would be), I wouldn't have to avert my eyes and mortify my flesh when the little spring clothes come out on the store racks, our daughter would have a real piano teacher, our son would have a real haircut, and (theoretically) I'd never tell them I'm too tired to read tonight.

But in the same way that it means more to me to have a baby than to have cute new brand name jeans and a reliably-sized body to put in them, it is better for our kids to have a house full of people who love each other than a house full of things to fill up the space and activities to fill up the time. What makes it trickier is that their dad and I have made that decision for them. All we can do is pray that they believe it too, and don't covet the empty life of stuff and diversions that can look so appealing to kids who wear hand-me-downs and go to grandma's for vacation (I speak from experience).

So we didn't read a bedtime story on Monday or Tuesday, and everybody's waiting longer for breakfast these days, and sometimes Mom inexplicably freaks out. Thanks be to God, they all love the baby. I'm pretty sure that if you gave them the choice today, they'd take him over another toy they'd just cry about having to pick up later on. May God in his mercy preserve them in that virtue. (And yes, we read and did piano and had globe time today! Go me! Tomorrow--no promises.)


Reb. Mary said...

Whoa--I think you accomplished way more today with 4 kids, 6 days postpartum than I did with my measly 2.75 kids and no postpartum to use as excuse. Rock on! You go girl! (Sorry, I just have to use that expression every now and then...).

Thanks so much for posting this. It's the stuff that I believe to be true and try to remind myself of--but it's hard when we look around and wonder if the kids will resent us for all they've been "deprived" of, or if they'll have enough extracurriculars on their college applications to get the scholarships they'll need because we can't pay for their college, etc.

As you pointed out, it's not the "stuff" so much as the opportunities that we might tend to fret about the most--the "real" music or art lessons, sports and other extracurriculars, etc. But then too, there are opportunities in a big family that those in the 2-kid home never get, especially for the more important areas of character development and so forth.

Reb. Mary said...

This also reminds me of an article I read not too long ago about a family that had adopted umpteen kids--a dozen or so, I think. Most of them had been adopted from foster care or orphanages, not as infants but as toddlers or even as old as preteen. When the family size had reached ten or so and the topic of adopting another kid came up, the dad actually tried to bribe the family into NOT bringing another kid into the family. He offered them the choice of funding either a swimming pool for their house or a new sibling. They did a secret ballot where all the kids could vote and it was unanimous: a new sibling was shortly welcomed into the family. Pretty cool.

Reb. Mary said...

But the spring and summer wardrobes--that's rough. I was thinking morosely on the topic myself, the other day. Ah well, the flesh shall be mortified indeed.

Gauntlets said...

Our Christmas tree was rather humble this year, too. There weren't any grandparents around to fill in the gaps. The great thing? The kids didn't care at all and we had plenty of time NOT opening presents to just sit around the table looking dreamy. A step up from the banshee mornings of Christmas past.

Oh how the toys drive me nutty. The kids don't play with them. Why would they? They're too busy saving scraps of paper from the trash bin so as to make puppets and presents for Dad. I am really looking forward to garage sale season.

As for your day: I respect you. Globe time. :) Happy.

Gauntlets said...

Another thought on music lessons, etc.: As we are drowning in the kindness of family and friends (stuff, stuff, and more stuff), we plan to start asking for less tangible stuff for birthday and Christmas presents. A year of piano lessons costs about the same as a pile of toys from two sets of grandparents, right? I'm really hoping those that love us bite onto this idea over and above the transient shiny-eyed tearing-of-the-paper moments . . . if they don't, then we'll start fretting up some other way . . .

Mrs. Maschke said...

Our Christmas tree was sparse as well, not because we couldn't afford it, but because we don't need the stuff. My middle school students were in shock that little bit got three presents...

You all are right, stuff doesn't matter, relationships do

And Gauntlets--my mom pays a semester of preschool as a present for my nephew; asking for things like that is a great idea.

Rebekah, congrats on a quick and easy L&D. My prayers is that my future children are smaller that my first (at 9lb, 13 oz) and that I'm able to go natural with all of them (like I did with number one)

Rebekah said...

Did I forget to mention that I didn't have to cook all last week? Amazing how much time that frees up for other pursuits.

I've also been wondering if we could talk some relatives into the enrichment-activities-as-gift idea. But they've been so balky even at the Amazon list . . . ?

Mrs Maschke, are you sure that wasn't twins?! :) You're a hero. However, everyone can watch for a post in the future on the topic of quick being unequal to easy in the labor department (one of the truths of the Bradley method!). ;)