Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Family Planning

In this month’s Cookie magazine (August), there is an article called “More or Less: Four women explain how they chose – consciously and not – the number of children they have.” The authors have between zero and four children. All seem pretty happy with their choice. Deciding on family size can be a very personal and very charged decision. It can even be difficult to discuss as spouses. We had always talked about having several children and then after we had one, my dh seemed hesitant to have any more and I was adamant that I wanted at least one more. We had the second. Then we decided to permanently end the conversation with a vasectomy. Although I think we both might have reconsidered for at least another one, but by the time we got to that point, we had already made the decision a permanent one.

Family planning as part of my religious beliefs never crossed my mind until I read A Mom Just Like You by Vickie Farris and Jayme Farris. I had picked up the book as a homeschooling help book, but for the first time some put words to my ache. Perhaps all of this outside control of our family size wasn’t meant to be ours but God’s. I have since spoken of this thought with only a few of my closest friends as this is certainly not a mainstream idea. Controlling family size is equated with woman’s liberation. I think with some of this liberation came at a cost. By raising fewer kids and working more, family needs and wants have grown and we have lost a bit of the simplicity of life – the smells of a baking pie, the laughter of children running through the house, the help of your older children with your younger ones.

This idea of a large family arose again as we made friends with a large family and watched their interaction. Even dh has mentioned the desire for a larger family. And then came the TLC (the Learning Channel) shows about the Duggars, a homeschooling family that is now expecting their 18th child. Watching the way their family interacts was impressive, not that I could even attempt to replicate Michelle’s patience or organization. And 18 children are probably more than I could survive. Maybe though, our haste and society’s pressures caused us to be a little too hasty in our family plan. Of course, maybe my hormones are just talking.

How many children do you have? Do you hope to have more? Do you ever regret your family “plan”?

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