Thursday, May 19, 2011

What is the Perfect Family? PART TWO.

You know the drill.

1.      If you are a young, single woman the question is – Do you have a boyfriend?
2.      Now, you’ve met someone and you’ve been together at least four months – When are you getting married?
3.      You happily are engaged – When is the wedding?
4.      You are home from the honeymoon – When are you having babies?
5.      You have your first baby – When are you starting on Baby #2?

Have you asked these questions? I know I have!

I received an incredibly sweet compliment last week – You should have started having children years ago. You should see the way you glow when your daughter is around. No doubt, I love being a parent. But, life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned it. God’s plan is so much sweeter. The truth is – my life evolved in a way that children were not even a possibility until my mid-thirties. I always thought I’d have two kids. Not one, not three – two was my magic number. Yet, here I am - married to my best friend and living life with a little girl sweeter than we’d ever dreamed. It really does feel like my ideal life. Do I really need more than that?

We haven’t ruled out having a second child, but we definitely aren’t planning on it. Adoption is something we are open to, but in the meantime, we have one child and feel blessed for that.

Does the fact that I am a working mother impact our decision? Certainly! I feel like I did everything right the first time. I worked for years and had enough leave time that my entire four months off was paid and I still had a good amount of leave time left over. I don’t love leaving my child to go to work, yet I really wouldn’t want to give up on my career right now, even if I could. I’ve worked out a good balance with my roles between work, wife and motherhood without feeling like I am sacrificing too much time away from my family. Elyse gets to be at her house with her parents four days a week and is with family and friends the other three. I’d like to continue that until she starts school, but I don’t know that all the pieces would work if we had to extend that out another few years if we had a second child.

Then, there are the financial implications. We will likely get Elyse involved in some part-time daycare or preschool when she gets older to help with her socialization and education. These programs aren’t cheap and the thought of doubling the costs sounds a bit overwhelming. We want Elyse to go to college. We also want to ensure we take financial responsibility for ourselves so our daughter doesn’t have the burden of worrying about taking care of us in our retirement. I know many would say “it all works out”, but Bill and I are much too practical for that. We can’t imagine not considering money as an option in our decision.

There is of courses our ages. I’m 36 and Bill is 42. I’m not in a big hurry to do the whole pregnancy thing all over again right away, yet I know we couldn’t wait forever. The risks only multiply the older I get and I don’t even want to think about the possibility of miscarriage, birth defects and all the other health risks. I feel as if I was so fortunate with Elyse – right or wrong – I feel like I don’t want to press my luck.

Of course, we worry about the stereotypes associated with only children. They are said to be destined to be “spoiled, selfish and lonely”. Really? I think of our friends Scott and Karen and their beautiful, respectful, independent and smart daughter, Courtney. I tell them all the time we’d be thrilled if our daughter could grow to be as wonderful as Courtney. Jessica (who writes for this blog) is another amazing exception and I know there are many, many others.

Elyse has cousins and tons of neighborhood buddies. We will always encourage her to make close friendships and likely those friends will be spending a lot of time at our home, coming on trips with us and be connected to our family. This girl will not be alone. I pray for Elyse to be independent, strong, courageous, respectful, loving and bright – whether she has a sibling or not. For right now – she is more than enough.

Please share with us how you made your decisions about what makes your “perfect” family.

Interested in reading more about only children? Read this great article from Time Magazine published last year.

- Courtney

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