The other day I tweeted: Even when people are joking, I hate the “well, if you have X kids, what’s one more?” comments. One more is… um… A CHILD!”
This speaks to what I think the intent of the tweet was: We become comfortable confident in our parenting. We begin to see that we have the tools to do it well. Its like we feel so at easy with the whole process that we are throwing a baby on the pile with the rest, its says we can do this; no problem!
I am glad for Patty’s reminder to appreciate how intimidating parenting is for many, and how great it is that some can become confident enough to see adding another child to their family as no challenge at all!
Additionally, I have a special affinity for sarcasm in response to overly-personal prying. I completely understand flippancy as a way out of a discussion that just isn’t worth the effort. And goodness knows, parents of large families often don’t have energy for stupid inquisitions!
Yet something still bothers me when we subtly perpetuate the idea that the only trouble required in raising children is the physical work of keeping them alive and healthy until they are 18. The real challenge of adding a child to your family–whether it be your 1st or your 30th–is that the child is more than a bundle of trouble to keep alive.
Every child is a human being with its own set of profound emotional and spiritual needs. There is nothing inconsequential or “just” about “one more” when thought of in these terms.
Of course several of you are now thinking that I am clearly a paranoid young woman who has waited too long to have children and thus made it into a far bigger deal than it really is. But here’s the thing: I came by this view first of all from my mother, and secondly from my sister who is a mother of four.
I remember the look in my mother’s eyes when people would make comments either about how she wouldn’t notice one more child, or about how easy parenting would be when most of her children were out of the house. My mother did not have my father’s turn-you-on-your-head jokes about family size, but her face always made it clear how unutterably stupid she thought the commenter was for so completely failing to understand the meaning of each child in a family.
A child is always a person, and you can only go so long without realizing that because the needs of each person are infinite, adding a child to your family always means adding an infinite blessing with its infinite demands.
What is just one more baby when you already have so many? Everything.
- Age and Declining Fertility