This morning I was reading this article about how the decision to have children – or not – can be a dealbreaker in a relationship.
The advice-seeker wrote in to say her boyfriend of six years is unsure if he wants kids, but seems to be leaning toward a “no.” She definitely wants kids, but doesn’t want to leave him – especially when they’re at the point at which marriage feels like the next step.
Reading her letter, I felt so sad for her. It made me realize how fortunate I am to have a partner who whole-heartedly wants children, just like I do. That isn’t a mistake, of course. I didn’t ask him on our first date how he felt about having kids (for one thing, I was 18 and he was 21 at that time, and he probably would have run for the hills), but as our relationship evolved over the years it was a topic that inevitably came up. If we hadn’t been on the same page we likely would have parted ways, which would have been incredibly painful. I’m thankful it never came to that because today he is the best thing in my life.
I’m also thankful for the reasons I want children. As a child, teen, and adult, my family has always been a positive thing in my life and something that brings me joy. My parents both come from large families and I grew up with literally dozens of cousins. Family get-togethers were crowded, happy occasions with tons of kids and aunts and uncles and dogs and food. My husband, though he grew up in an entirely different culture, had a similar experience – big family, lots of cousins, lots of love. He hasn’t had a whole lot of hands-on experience with young kids – he was one of the youngest of his generation and was always the baby, while I fell squarely in the middle of mine and spent a good amount of time playing with little kids and babysitting. However, he has endless amounts of patience (far more than I!) and happily gives piggy back rides and plays Big Bad Wolf with his cousin’s kids when we stop by to visit. He has strong feelings about being a Dad and can’t wait for our baby to be born. It fills me with so much joy to hear him tell my belly good morning and good night every day.
In an ideal world we would probably have about three kids. However, we don’t know what the future holds in terms of my health and career. Hopefully I will be healthy enough for a few more pregnancies a few years down the line. Hopefully we can balance childbearing and childrearing with my grad school plans and our demanding careers.
None of that is certain at this point. I also acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know, and once we have this baby we could decide we’re done – or that we want five more! If this baby is our only one, though, I think we could be happy with that. We’re thankful we could bring her into this world after our struggle with infertility, and we’re thankful for those other embryos waiting frozen in the bank. The rest remains to be seen.