Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Transitions, Part 2.

Ever since we found out that we're having another baby, Dan and I have been trying to wrap our brains around the implications- both joyous and complicated- of adding another person to our family of four. (God was just so smart to give us humans 9-10 months to digest all of this.) Some are very emotional... will we have enough attention to give each child? Enough patience? And some are very practical... will we save enough for three college educations? Possibly three weddings? And some are dealing with our day-to day life... where will all these children sleep? Will our car hold all of them? How will we fit around the dinner table? Will we have an interruption in the almost 12 YEARS of diapers we're looking at (yes, it's true; but think of it this way: we're already seven and a half years done)?

So our heads have been swirling. The largest-scale things we've talked about are looking for a new house with four bedrooms and more bathrooms and storage and looking at minivans to cart all these children around in. And this has sparked very interesting reactions from people who we talk about this with.

We can certainly fit another child in our house; two of our kids will have to share a bedroom since our fourth bedroom is downstairs and being used as an office/playroom. We are in no hurry to move. I don't relish the idea of all the work and hassle involved in packing and moving and unpacking, either 5+ months pregnant or with a newborn. Dan and I are both committed to staying within our elementary school boundaries, so that limits our search pretty severely. But we both get a little giddy thinking about having more space to stretch out in, host family parties in, having a finished basement for the toys to be kept in, and another bathroom to get ready in. And while nothing is imminent nor necessary, we both clearly have felt this pressure intensify on us since finding out about Baby #3.

People we talk to about this seem to have one of two views: they either say, "Oh, how exciting that will be!" or they point out that they know families who have raised SEVEN children in houses HALF our size. And I think the subtext of those stories is not nasty in any way, just It is possible and don't feel the pressure if you don't want to.

And this causes some angst for me, I must admit.

I have no problem staying in the house we live in. We have poured thousands of hours of work into it as well as thousands of dollars. We have it almost exactly the way we want it. I think we could easily raise our children here until they leave home with some careful clutter management and patience. I think that sharing a bedroom is a character-building exercise and teaches wonderful lessons about accommodating others, sharing space and building bonds.

But is it wrong to want a bigger house? Is it excessive to want my children to each have their own space? Is it selfish for me to want my own master bathroom, free from Spongebob toothbrushes and bath toys? If we have the money to pay for it- and trust me, ain't nothin's happening unless I am able to sleep like a baby knowing we can afford a new house- are we spoiling our children in some way by giving them more space and more privacy?

And the same holds true for our car. We can fit (I think) two car seats and a booster in the back of our Pilot. Dan has offered to trade in his beloved Acura and get the family a new Honda Odyssey minivan. (I know... he's amazing.) We have talked with his brother, who sells Hondas, and we can get the minivan for about $60 more per month than what we're paying for his car with nothing else down. The minivan is gorgeous- leather seats, a sunroof, power everything, and a DVD player. But is it necessary? Do we NEED a DVD player? We can easily afford this car. It will be super handy for getting our own children around comfortably and safely as well as having room for extra people, like grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends to ride with us.

I think it's a reflection of a larger societal debate going on, as the Depression era generation fades away. These poor people worked like dogs and had barely anything, but were so appreciative of what they had. They gave way to the Baby Boomers, who also worked like dogs and raised their standard of living tremendously. Us Generation Xers were born not knowing real poverty or real want and having lots of extras. So here we are, working like dogs (again, props to Dan... that man works hard and works smart to get ahead and provide us with an amazing standard of living, as well as supports me staying home 150%) and having children who are obese with extras and opportunity and luxury. These children have the highest standard of living in modern history. Are we ruining them? Is there intrinsic value in going without something? Or do you have a better opportunity to grow and develop as a person when your basic needs are more than met and you have exposure to this higher standard of living? I know these are gross, gross overgeneralizations but I hope you get my point.
What is necessary? What is extra? What are we teaching our children?

So for the time being, we are keeping our eyes open for a house but not moving anytime soon. And we're probably going to get that minivan.

I hope we're not ruining our 2.5 kids.


Anonymous said...

I can ASSURE you that you are not ruining your 2.5 children! I think most parents (including Daddy and I) struggled with these same issues and everything seemed to turn out just fine. The fact that you are AWARE of such things practically assures that you are doing an awesome job-just look at Michaela and Jenna! To sound like a REALLY old person, "The proof is in the pudding.!" Love, Mommy

Anonymous said...

I love your thoughtful examination of really big issues.....I vote for the mini-van AND the DVD player so you can all come visit in W'burg sometime! Love, LW