Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My family is just right, thank you.


Some friends and I were discussing on an online parenting forum the phenomenon that, no matter how you plan your family, others are always going to comment that you're "doing it wrong."

I always assumed it was just me. I have three children; a son and two daughters. My son and daughter are 2 1/2 years apart, and my daughters are 4 years apart. Between my oldest and youngest is about 6 1/2 years. I had only been married 7 months when we found out we were pregnant with our first child. I was 21 when I had him. I had my 3rd, and last, child at 27. I am a stay-at-home mom, and we're supporting our family on just my husband's income.

I don't have an even number of kids; there will always be an "odd man out." I only have one son; he'll never know what its like to have a brother. My older two kids are spaced too close together, my younger two, too far apart. I had kids way too young, and way too early into my marriage. I am irresponsible and lazy for being a stay-at-home mom and not earning money to support my family. Or maybe its that we must be really rich.

I am, of course, being sarcastic, but I have heard it all. When it comes to people's families, everyone feels like they can give you their opinion about how you should be doing it "right."

One of my friends said it drives her crazy when people ask, "So, when are you going to have another child?" She pointed out that, quite frankly, its none of anyone else's business. And she's right.

Another friend has decided she is going to raise her daughter as an only child. Yet, people constantly insist that she needs to have another child, or her daughter will be scarred for life...or something. She doesn't need to do anything. She, her husband, and her daughter are all perfectly happy with that decision. The only people who aren't are people who have no right to offer an opinion.

Another has 8 kids. She has told me that people have made some comments that have been anything but nice about her choice to have 8.

I also have multiple friends who had their kids really close together in age. They have all endured comments about how they should've waited longer between kids.

I could go on and on....

The fact of the matter is, what's "right" for one family won't be right for another, and whatever I choose isn't "wrong" just because its not what you would choose. I wouldn't want an only child, nor would I want 8, but I think both my friends in those cases are making the right choice for them. If you feel like you are meant to have only one, then don't have more. If you feel like you're meant to have 8, then by all means, have 8!

The "perfect" family is all relative. For me, 3 is the "perfect" number. I didn't feel like our family was complete without our third, but I also feel like 4 would be pushing it. Others prefer to devote all their time, attention, and love to just one child. And others prefer to "fill their quiver" to the brim.

And the reasons behind how we choose to form our family are our own personal business anyway. People deal with fertility problems, miscarriages, money problems, all sorts of other logistics... And no, we don't want to share our reasons, nor do we want to have to explain or justify our choices. We are doing this our way, just like you did it your way. Your way doesn't work for me, no matter how much you, stranger with good intentions but unsolicited input, want it to! And let's be honest, what I do probably wouldn't work for you.

If you don't like my perfect, that's fine. Its perfect for me, and doesn't have anything to do with you. I am happy with my family just the way it is. I don't have too few kids, and I don't have too many. The age gaps between my kids are just right. Being a younger mom is great. Having to pinch pennies to be a stay-at-home mom is tough, but we do it because me being home with the kids is what we feel is right for us.

How many or how few kids you have, when you have them, how far apart they are spaced, or how young or old you are when you have them is irrelevant anyway. Your number one priority is to make sure your kids are loved and cared for - whether it be one child or 20! (Michelle Duggar, you make my uterus ache!) As long as you are meeting your child(ren)'s needs - if they're happy, healthy, loved, and nurtured - then you are doing everything "right." How you "did it" doesn't even matter.

What are some comments you've had to endure about your choices with family planning? I know we've all gotten at least a few....

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