One of the nice features of WordPress is that I get a little statistics page telling me the search terms used to find my weblog. I’ve had a significant number of hits from people looking for “three kids” and “why have three kids” and “deciding to have three kids” so I figured I’d actually post a series on the topic.
This would also work for “why have four kids” since the ultrasound says in April I’ll have to retitle this weblog “Seven angels, four kids, one family.” 🙂
The question “Why have three children?” is backward as it implies that two children is the standard to which every human being must conform, and those who have more need to have a reason to do so (and a good one at that) and those who have not spawned the correct number of offspring also should have a good reason.
It’s patently ridiculous, and I know a better title should be in order, but I’m pandering to the search engines here. I’m more likely to get someone reading if I use the language the person is already using. 🙂
Here are my basic assumptions, which I know are countercultural:
1) You do not need a reason to have a baby.
2) Babies are not inherently useful and therefore a baby’s existence cannot be justified. Any attempt to attach a reason to a baby’s existence devalues the baby.
3) There is always a reason NOT to have a baby.
Having set up those ground rules, I want to go back to item number two. If you have found a good reason to have a baby, then I would suggest considering again. Because being useful is not the same as being welcomed.
The plumber is useful. (Which reminds me–my Patient Husband wants me to call the plumber today.) But I do not welcome the plumber into my home. He comes, performs a necessary service, and leaves again with money.
A baby is not useful. But I do welcome my babies into my home. They come, consume resources, and they stay. I want them to stay. They want to be here.
Home, for them, is a safe place even if they screw up. If my plumber screws up, my home is no longer a place he is invited to be, and I expect him to correct the problem.
My plumber needs to bring some value into the home. My children do not. They are not expected to.
The whole idea that Americans have bought into, that every child must be actively wanted and pursued, is not based in reality. Children are not an asset, like upgrading your kitchen, in order to increase the desirability of the life you’re living.
Let’s put it another way: you probably have more than two friends. If you met someone interesting at a venue you attend often, would you go home and list for yourself the benefits of making a third friend? Would you google “Why have three friends?” Would you read books for advice about what life would be like with a third friend, and then decide whether the individual was potentially useful enough to you that you should cultivate a friendship?
Wouldn’t you instead go over, introduce yourself, make small talk, and enjoy being with that person?
At risk of stating the obvious, babies (and children) are people. Not assets. We need to enjoy being with them rather than considering what they bring to us. And that, too, is countercultural.
There’s far more to say, so I’ll keep going tomorrow.