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So, you’re done?

At lunch yesterday 3 guys sat around the table getting to know one another better. In the course of the conversation we chatted about kids. Each man had two. The guy sitting next to me affirmed that two was enough for his family and barring a medical miracle, they were done. The guy across the table said that he and his wife hoped for one more. When they found out I had a 5 (Paul is 6 next Saturday) and an 8 year old, they said… “So, you’re done, eh?

I have to be honest. Now that Paul is almost 6 it’s at that point where— adding  a third would be like starting a second family. At the same time Kristen and I look at each other and joke about a third child all the time. Truth on that is, we usually say it in the most sarcastic way possible when Megan or Paul is having “a moment.” You know, the type of moment so horrific that you label it as birth control. You know, temper tantrums at the Capital building, or in Battery Park, or the one in a hotel recently in which I was certain someone would call the cops.

There’s a more personal angle to this. It’s hard for me to acknowledge that I’m somehow old enough to be done having kids! The crazy thing is that some of the people I went to high school think that 33 is the time they should get married and start a family. When people find out Kristen and I met when we were 18, got married at 21, and had Megan at 24, they feel uneasy about that. They say, “Oh, you were just babies!” We look at our peers and think, “You waited until your 30’s to get married? You’re so old!

9 out of 10 times I just roll with the joke that Kristen and I got married as children. But every time that comes up I am overcome with self-righteousness… No, we were the normal ones. No, we were the ones making the good decisions at 19, 20, and 21. No, we were the ones who didn’t buy into the middle class notion that you have to be a certain age to fall in love or get married. No, we were the responsible ones while all of our classmates were focused on keggers and messy college relationships which required years of recovery and regret. Indeed, we were young and naive about life. But who isn’t? How dare people tell us we were immature to marry at 21! [Steps off soapbox, hands microphone back to street preacher and walks away.]

I’ve done enough pre-marital counseling to know tt doesn’t matter what age you get married, you’re always ignorant about what you’re getting into!

Something is completely broken in our culture when we begin labeling adults (18-22) as too young to be adults. It’s jacked up to say people old enough to serve in the military are too young to be in adult relationships or make adult decisions. What’s next? 30 is too young to get married and have kids? What else will our culture throw in the way?

Why is it that middle class white people consider 24 to be on the young side to have kids? [Physically, that’s prime time.] And yet people in the city would say… “Wow, you were 24 when you had your first kid?” The answer is culture. In affluence we keep our children immature a lot longer. (Just look at the super affluent British royal family, Prince Charles still acts very much like a 17 year old, doesn’t he?) When you are affluent you don’t have to grow up because you don’t have to feed yourself, clothe yourself, or make enough money to pay the bills. Part of what matured Kristen and I in our early 20’s was precisely that. We needed real jobs to pay real bills. We had responsibilities. We made a lifestyle choice that kept us out of clubs. A few years into marriage we knew we made enough money and were stable enough to start a family. In essense, we were not developmentally delayed like our affluent classmates.

So, does 33 with a 6 and 8 year old mean we’re “done” having kids? It kind of looks that way doesn’t it?. I know I don’t want to go back to baby seats, puke, dirty diapers, and finding half-eaten Cheerios tucked behind the couch! Maybe we should just focus now, in our old age, on helping our friends with their babies?

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8 Responses to So, you’re done?

  1. Bradley Buhro August 1, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    As someone who became the father of his fifth at age 30, I know what you’re saying. (And yes, we’re done. #5 starts preschool this year and we’re not up to doing toddlers over again!)

    My theory was this course of action was the most practical. When my wife and I were young we were too poor to do anything (and too busy, as you say, earning a living.) We had no choice but to stay home, so why not stay home with kids?

    Of course, if all goes according to plan, my youngest will be out of college by the time I’m 51/52. So when Michelle and I hit our (theoretical) peak earning potential, we’ll have no one to spend it on but ourselves (and maybe some grandkids).

    Of course, I suppose if our parents had been affluent, it would completely change that formula. 😉

  2. adam mclane August 1, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    Yeah, Paul will graduate high school when we’re at the ripe old age of… 45. Crazy to think we could be grandparents by 50? (Megan would be 26)

    Another observation is that when we lived in Romeo we were on the young side of parents in the elementary school. Now that we live in an urban environment we shade towards the old side of parents. Culture makes a BIG difference, doesn’t it?

  3. Jeff Greathouse August 1, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    Thanks for the little chuckle today Adam.
    Stacey and I got married when we were 21 and 19 and waited a few years to have kids. They are now 12,10,6 and we are thinking about having more (depending Stacey health) because, hey we are only 37 and 35 ….

    At the same time, we go, hey, do we really want to ??

    I mean we will be 49 and 47 when our 3rd “baby” graduates from hs … we will still be youngins

  4. adam mclane August 1, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    @jeff- Yeah, having both our kids in college when we hit 45 seems pretty cool to me too. I feel like Bill Cosby a little. Kristen and I long to have an empty house in some ways. We love having the kids around and we wouldn’t want life without them in any way. But we’re also quick to look forward to times when it’s just us.

    Of course, maybe we’ll feel differently when the time arrives?

  5. Todd Porter August 2, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    Kimmy was 19 when I married her and I was 22. She was 21 when she had our daughter and 23 when she had our son. Now that one is 12 and the other will be 10 soon, I would say that we are done.

    Like you said, Adam, at this point it would be like starting a family over again. I am loving the fact that I will be 44 when my son graduates from school. We chose to have our kids at a young age so that we could enjoy our empty nest and still be young.

  6. Paul August 4, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    Is this blog post part of an elaborate ruse to get Amy and I to have kids. Is Kristen looking for a baby to hold after Happiness and Esther leave? Am I starting to sound like a birther conspiracy theorist yet?

  7. adam mclane August 4, 2009 at 5:50 am #

    No subtle hint! Though Kristen will, indeed, require a baby to hold after Happiness steals Esther away. Esther may be the cutest baby on the planet.

    I think the conspiracy theory is that you guys are building up a network of “small group” so that one day you’ll have bucketloads of babysitters.

  8. Kit March 18, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    In ten years’ time, the roles will reverse and your friends will be envying you.
    It’s easier to stay up with a crying baby and head into a 10hr shift at 25 than it is at 35 or , as some of my friends are doing – 45!
    And the teen years are easier to handle in your late 30’s and early 40’s when your self-confidence is (typically)hitting a high but your vigor is still holding up reasonably well.
    And for the family dynamics – I have friends who are second generation ‘wait till 40′ parents.
    Making decisions about how to care for aging parents with ever increasing health challenges alongside of infant/toddler care and the lack of sleep that accompanies that?
    I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, let alone my best friend.

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