For some people, they KNOW how many children they want to bring into this world. For others, nature decides for them, and they roll with the punches. Then the select few try to get mathematical about it and figure out the optimal number for their happiness.
I find it usually comes down to a couple of patterns:
They have the same number of children their parents had.
They go in the other direction of their parents.
My grandmother had two older brothers, so she figured she’d have three kids too. However, when a friend pointed out that there were no other choices outside of her daughter and son, my grandmother stopped at two children. My mother repeated the pattern, and so did I. Although, I did consider having only one for a brief period until my son was born, and I wanted him to have a sibling.
Research says that in the United States and Europe, nearly half of all adults consider two the ideal number of children. That is until they become teenagers when that number drops to zero. The second most popular number is three kids.
When my kids were about three and five, I recognized I had made the right decision to stop at two. One great thing about two kids is they can play with each other. The bad thing is they can also gang up on you.
Allow me to share a story I found scribbled in my tear-stained journal from when they were small.
“Quit fighting, or I swear on all that is holy that you’ll spend the rest of the day in your rooms! Then I’ll watch Lilo & Stitch episodes, eat fruit roll-ups, and mess around with your Playmobils ALL BY MYSELF!” I yelled (for emphasis - yeah, that’s it – for emphasis).
How could it only be 8 a.m., and I was already praying for death?
It is physically impossible for me to spend an entire day in the house with my kids. The truth be known, I am petrified to be alone with them in an unplanned environment for an extended period. For the love of structure, there are two of them and only one of me! And you know how kids can smell fear!
In our childless (read: carefree) days, Sparky and I discussed the optimum number of children with some friends who were already parents. They said, “One is fun, and two is like twenty.” I often hear those words echoing in my ears when my kids are trying to rip the flesh off each other’s arms.
When deciding on our perfect number of cherubs, Sparky and I used what we call The Power of Two:
I could go one step further and say,
Unfortunately, that logic is flawed since my eyes don’t go in separate directions when the kids scatter. God, some days I wish I had a lazy eye.
Even if I were able to grow another hand or another eye in my forehead, my decision would still rely on The Power of Two:
Now that I’m on the other side of raising the kids, it doesn’t seem bad. Moneywise, I don’t think we could have afforded more than two anyway. That and time to go to golf lessons, plays, dance recitals, and skateboard parks, to name a few. Even with my parents carrying half the load, it was a challenging but genuinely magnificent time.
Erma Bombeck said, “It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows.”
Erma never knew minivans, which would have accommodated four children with windows. So we got creative and filled it with two kids and two giant dogs.
Regardless of the number of children you choose or end up with, make sure to savor those long, hectic days. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with a sporty car and a couple of best friends.
Did you ever question the number of kids you wanted?