What’s Another Baby?
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!”
Then Patty of Spiritual Lives of Women responded with not only a tweet but an entire post!
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
I heard that “what’s one more, right, Michelle?!?” from more than one (I’m sure well-meaning) parent during my pregnancy with Vincent (our fifth).
Ummm, “what’s one more?” I’ll tell you, “what’s one more”….
It’s another personality to figure out.
It’s another endless opportunity for my heart to stutter to a stop with a baby smile.
It’s another kid to explain “the facts of life” to in an appropriate way at the most appropriate time in his/her life.
It’s another chance to explain the intricacies of estimation and algebra and drill spelling words and read books to…and try to figure out what kind of books THIS kid likes (because…well, they don’t all like the same books I have found out).
So, yes. as well meaning as it may be…at the bottom of it, reducing a new addition to the family to “just” another kid…denies their full personhood.
(sorry…didn’t mean to go on a mini-rant in your combox)
“When we say things we know what we mean and often because the person we are speaking with has the same context the meaning is clear, the message is receive as it was intended. Still there are times when we the speaker and you the listener are not always in tune, and there is no way for either of us to know that.”
Rae, I can understand your point. Each of our children are precious gifts. I have a heart condition that made each of my four pregnancies, live birth with complications, miscarriage, only live birth without complications, emergency C-section because my twins and I were minutes toward a heart attack for me and womb death for them; were a bit of a challenge, but still what’s another child, if I can handle that……
But for me, it speaks more to the confidence of knowing you can capable. And yes each child is a different personality to learn, a different person to understand and challenges you as a mother everyday must deal with: good and bad. Me as a mother with more mothering experience under my belt I still stand by my post.
We have dealt with our eldest and his turbulent teens years, in fact ten years of turbulence, enough to break a mother’s heart. But still with love, patience, hope and a great deal of prayer we all survived and not only that, thrived! He now lives on his own in Chicago.
We have been through the college overwhelmed depression of our second son, who came home after being so depressed he did not leave his dorm room for a whole semester. Again with love, patience and prayer we all triumphed. He is doing well, back to creating video games and working with a group of friends in creating a gaming business of his own, being a healthy well adjusted Junior in College.
With our twinnies premature birth I was in the hospital everyday for two months, dealing with that you deal with as a preemie mom. Our youngest twin was not supposed to survive, her blood chemistry at birth was well, was to have CP, learning difficulties, not be able to speak the list goes on…. they both are sixteen, driving, belonging to drama club doing all the things sixteen year olds do.
What each experience has taught me is that life with all its ups and downs is a joy, a blessing, filled with possibility only if you wish it to be, if you have hope that it will be and if you have God as a partner.
You talk about how what’s another one being what sticks in your craw, well mine is “You should have used tough love on you eldest and kicked him out.” Michelle, Joy, RaeI suggest that is the statement that makes a Child, a Kid, denying them their full personhood. My hubby and I both knew that to raise children takes great love, discipline, patience and HOPE. We dealt with with our eldest, now 26, and all our children as they needed, as was best for each of them and their individual personalities and what will help him/her grow stronger.
So, what is one more!
What a great gift of love to be able to give your children!
“an infinite blessing with infinite demands” Exactly!!
That question bothers me for so many reasons
1. While children are blessings , they are individuals and there is something about
“mass production ” implied in that question ( maybe its just me )
2. I feel as if on some level it trivializes the process of discerning the addition of another child to a family
Yeah its not the best remark ever, lots of issues with it… but I usually see it said as a flippant remark to those going on about how someone is pg again or the don’t you have enough, have a tv, etc etc. comments. Not the most appropriate answer, but not the worst one I’ve seen either (although the worse ones tend to be much funnier).