THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Having been born the ninth child in a family of 16, and having nine children of my own, I often think that in order to catch up to my mother I would have to have seven more children. Fortunately, I know it’s not a competition and that if it was it would be impossible for me to win (barring any octuplets!)
My mother is certainly an amazing woman who was able to balance motherhood and running a successful porcelain doll business and all her various other duties, and somehow make it all work. My two other mothers had large broods too, one having 16 like my mom, and the other having eight. Then there were my grandmothers and aunts, most of whom had many offspring as well.
Yes, I have always been surrounded by large families. By no means did I feel any pressure or expectation to have a certain amount of children. It’s always been my own personal choice, and my body’s ability. Well, my husband does have some say in the matter!
I loved growing up with a plethora of siblings. As an adult, I enjoy the ways we can relate to one another. I would love for my children to experience that same joy and familiarity with their siblings. So, having many children was an important value to me when I first got married. Fortunately for me, I have been blessed with nine beautiful children.
Now the question is: How many is many??
And the answer is: I’m not exactly positively absolutely and without a doubt certain!
I am very fulfilled as a mother, and I even have bonus children I get to enjoy as much as I do my own. I don’t necessarily feel a need to have another baby, but then again, I don’t feel like there won’t be another baby either.
Here is the inner narrative that rattles through my brain:
“My last five kids have been girls and I really thought I would have another boy. My baby boy is 16, and I haven’t had a boy with Joe, and I’ve always been curious about what ‘he’ would be like if we did have a boy, not that Joe minds, he’s said he’s very fulfilled with all our little princesses, but what if I’m meant to have another, and what if it’s another girl or what if I regret it later if I don’t, when my body isn’t able to do it anymore? I already had to take a break because of the radiation treatment after thyroid cancer. I’m 43 and not getting younger and it won’t get any easier and my baby is almost four years old, and I’ve never had any children that far apart. Joe is very supportive if it is something I really want to do, but do I? Am I too old already? How will my body handle a pregnancy at my age? There are a lot more risks, but then again, no because Vicki is expecting and progressing just fine. I don’t want to live in fear and indecision….but because I’m undecided, I’ve made the decision!”
And on and on….
When Vicki announced that she was ready to have another baby I felt a lot of respect for her. It is a big commitment and she has come through some difficult times like dealing with severe postpartum depression and miscarriages all in the name of motherhood. I knew it was a well thought out decision that is without a doubt what she feels she is meant to do. So until and unless I have that same conviction for myself, I will remain as I am: Completely content with what I have, open to the possibility that there still could be something more.