Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Will I have more children one day?

A few months ago, I took my annual vacation with my family to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN. I don't remember where I was or what we were doing at the specific time I'm going to delve into a backstory on, but Kimmy was acting up. She was a little ornery and overtired on that trip and wasn't at her peak behavior by any stretch of the imagination--typical 3-year-old life.

There was another kid close to us, younger than Kimmy, who got her attention. While Kimmy observed the other kid, she got quiet. Some man or woman (honestly the details are a little foggy for me here, haha!) nearby saw the whole thing said something along the lines of, "Well, well, well...now you know what you need to keep her happy: another one!" Meaning another child. I just smiled and laughingly agreed while sharing "the look" with my grandma.

So let's break this down a little. Was this person trying to give me serious advice about my life or tell me that I needed ot go home and reproduce immediately to make my daughter behave better? No. Was this person trying to get into my personal business? No. It was an innocent remark. If anything, they were probably trying to relate to me as a fellow parent and say something pleasant that would help me realize that Kimmy's behavior was a little bad, but typical of a child her age and that they recognized me as her mom and wanted to say something to acknowledge that. It was definitely out of a place of friendliness being that we were in good ol' Tennessee, so I didn't think too far into it or take offense over the fact that, no, I'm not going to be poppin' out babies any time soon because I'm too busy being a mom and student and household manager all on my own for now. My main point with this backstory: it was an innocent remark that I didn't dwell on, but something that sparked a chain of thought within me.

Over the next several weeks, I caught myself thinking about my long-term goals a lot. Perhaps related to the this exchange, but more likely associated with the fact that I was taking midterms for b-school and had recently pinned down what my actual, real, live, solid career goals are. The future is looking really, really bright and stable! So, I've just been thinking about where I'll be and what I'll be doing in the future.

One lingering question has been "Will I have more children one day?"

For a while the answer was an unshakable, "YES! Of course I will. Why wouldn't I? I'll come across a man who treats me right one day, and we'll get married and have children. Plus, how could I be so selfish as to not give Kimmy a sibling?" While this may very well be the case, I can't and don't want to plan and bank on a future that I'm not in charge of. Who knows if I'll meet someone awesome one day? Who really cares? I'm happy right here and now. I don't need huge changes in my life to transform me to a happy state. While this scenario may enable me to still be happy, it doesn't define my ultimate happiness.

When I stumbled upon this stunning epiphany, a whole new possibility of thought opened up for me!

My answer transitioned into, "I would absolutely love to have more children one day and wouldn't be opposed to it, but I'm not forcing the issue. I have Kimmy, and she is everything I need."

Going even deeper into my non-need to have another child, there have been multiple pivotal events and circumstances around me and involving me recently that are pushing me toward other possibilities for my future:

1. Kimmy's going to be starting school in less than 2 years. This is huge. This means I won't need full-time childcare for her anymore. This means she'll be older and more self-sufficient: dressing herself, reading, writing, learning, forming her own thoughts and opinions, and becoming a big girl. This means we'll be out of the "baby" stage. My house can be cleaner. We can travel more. We can do more extra-curricular activities. Life will be just so much more flexible.

2. Babies are expensive, and not giving your child siblings does not make her "less than." Yes, Kimmy would love to have a sibling around full-time, but having vs. not having siblings doesn't set someone up for happiness or success in life. Only children also have extraordinarily fun childhoods and grow into extraordinarily awesome adults. Some of my very best friends are only children, and they missed out on nothing in their sibling-less upbringings. What's more, Kimmy now has a half-sibling. (And I didn't have to do a thing--ha!) I imagine Kimmy will grow to have a great relationship with her half-sibling, and I hope and pray that that is what happens. At the same time, how awesome will it be for Kimmy to get to come home to our house and have the quiet of her own home where she is the single child there? I think she's got it made whether or not that changes!

3. Back to a longer-term outcome of the more flexible life I speak of in #1 and the expensiveness factor of babies in #2, no further children gives me better projected financial health. Home ownership. Kimmy's college fund. Travel money. When I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia and spend time with so many incredible and amazing girls who had been rescued from sex and labor trafficking, I was stricken with an overwhelming urge to help girls in need. Underpriviliged and at-risk girls, orphans, girls overcoming adversity, etc. There are so, so, so many children and young adults in this world who need someone to be there for them. If I'm focusing on adding to my own family or raising new infants I've birthed, I'm spending more time and money on me and my blood relatives. I'm not helping cure that spark in my heart that is so strong that I couldn't ever shake it if I tried. I have to do something else with my life. When Kimmy's older and can join me, even better. Maybe we'll even be a foster family or adoptive family one day. I don't know. But I know that I can show my love to children in so many other ways than just having more of my own.

[This has been a draft for a while as I've stewed and tried to think of more to add. I'm happy with this, though. In the words of the great Anne Lamott, "Perfectionism is the voice of the opressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft."]