Foamgnome Weighs in On "One"

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Foamgnome

I sit at my computer and contemplate another job switch. I had a bad incident at work several weeks ago. My three-year-old daughter was sent home from preschool with a stomach virus. My husband was out of town on a business trip. I ended up missing two and half days of work. Back at work, my new boss was upset that I took off for my sick child. I am not sure what he expected me to do because she was not eligible to go to day care and we don't have family in the area. Even on regular days, I definitely get vibes that the boss is not thrilled with my parental status.

So, I decided at that moment that I need to switch jobs. I worked on my resume and sent in an application to my old employer. I sent an e-mail to my contacts stating that I was willing to take a government job two grades below my current status to make it happen. Now, I sit and wait to hear from my old employer.

Fortunately, I am in a decent situation that will pay me until I find a new position. I commute an hour by train and my husband commutes by car, only about 15 miles but it takes an hour. If I get the job with my old employer, I will have a 45-minute commute by car. In all of this, we are contemplating our options of adding to our family. I already feel exhausted, overwhelmed and stretched to the limit. I have no idea how we would pay for two day care tuitions, two college educations and two retirements. I am scared stiff of the possibility of not giving my daughter a sibling, but I often wonder why the common wisdom seems to be against having only one child.

With all the feats of balancing work, family, and commuting, why do people insist on providing a sibling for their child? Sometimes, I think the smart working parents choose to have one child. The money would be easier, the time would be easier, and as far as any study that I have read, only children are as happy and well-adjusted as children with siblings. Even if you stay at home with your kids, I am still amazed with the balancing act of multiple-kid families. How do they have time for each child? How do they afford it? Do they plan on paying for college? There are no easy answers, and the truth of the matter is once you make the decision to add to your family, you don't regret it. But I ask and pray for more patience and time.

How did you choose to balance work and family and how does that factor into the number of children that you have or wish to have?

Foamgnome is a regular On Balance poster best known by her screen name. She works in Washington, D.C. for a federal agency and lives in Springfield, Va., with her family.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 27, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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I loved your column. Thanks for being so honest about your own feelings. It's hard to admit ambivalence -- usually everyone just charges ahead trying to sound like they know exactly what they want.

My initial reaction to your question, "How do people decide about how many kids to have" is that in our case I think we were guided mostly by youth and stupidity. I wasn't nearly as logical about the whole thing as you were. It was more like two kids in the first two years of marriage ("I just love, love, love you and want to have your babies")followed by another one two years later. Paying for college or any of the rest didn't, unfortunately, enter into my calculations.

And as far as the logistics? Never really thought that part through either. One advantage to having your kids REALLY close together is that you can enroll them in a lot of the same activities. For a long time, if I didn't have at least two kids interested in an activity, we didn't do it. This is harder now that they are 11, 10 and 8 because they have their own personalities and interests, making scheduling a nightmare. And it's easier if all your children are the same sex and so forth, in terms of interests and making nice with multiple sets of parents and so forth.

The third child, however, gave me pause -- because that's the point at which paying for daycare outweighs lots of wages in lots of jobs (unless you space them really far apart. In our case we had 3 preschoolers for several years). Also, I think bad bosses are able to think of your children as a "hobby" which doesn't interfere with your work (kind of like gardening), provided you only have one or two. Once you have three, it's kind of hard to pull off the "first and foremost, I'm a career person. I just happen to have these kids" attitude. Especially if you have no family nearby.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 27, 2007 7:19 AM

I have two children, and my husband and I work full time. He commutes an hour by bus and I have a 15 mile commute that can take 30 minutes to an hour.
You do not have to give your child a sibling. I love my younger son, and I do not regret him. But, I will admit I liked the dynamic of having one child much better. He is 4, so it is only going to get harder when he gets homework and starts extra-curricular activities like his 7 year old sister.

Posted by: wls | February 27, 2007 7:19 AM

Go Foamgnome! Thanks for your honesty.

One child is almost inconceivably easier (in so many ways) than two or more. But I think you have to trust that if you really want another child, you and your husband will figure it all out.

It seems that few people weigh the pros/cons as much as you do. I know I didn't. It's really smart that you are thinking this all through NOW.

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 7:31 AM

i think that it is hard to work with a child 45 minutes away. it is hard because if your kid gets sick then they have to wait for a long time before you pick them up. maybe you should find a job that is closer to your house.

Posted by: coolguy123 | February 27, 2007 7:39 AM

Foamgnome - really loved your story. I'm gonna think before I offer any opinions. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 27, 2007 7:48 AM

If you have another, please, please, do it for YOU. Don't ever think you're doing your kid any favors by having another.

Having two (or three, or whatever) is NO guarantee they will get along or even like each other. They may even grow to resent each other.

In fact, I think I can count on my hand the number of people I know from 'more than one children' families that actually get along.

Posted by: ilc | February 27, 2007 7:49 AM

Foamgnome, I really liked your column as well. And - wow - do I feel the same way. We have one child currently, but have started to think about having a second. DH and I both wonder at times though how we would handle it. But at the same time, we have never really seriously considered only having one child. We both have siblings with whom we are very close and can't imagine our DS not having that kind of relationship and friendship available to him. For us, we feel that the benefit of having a sibling for DS will outweigh any cost to him (most significantly, the cost of less time with mom and dad, which - for dual income families - is the most precious commodity of all) or to us as a family.

One of the things that struck me the most about your column was also the commuting aspect. I went from having a 15-20 minute commute in DC to having over 45 minute commute in London and WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MAKES!! I am counting the days until we move back to DC for that very reason (well, among some others - DC is CHEAP compared to London). But I really sympathesize with you. These are tough issues with no clear answer available...

Posted by: londonmom | February 27, 2007 7:52 AM

I'm glad to see this topic posted. I've heard the debate among parents and most that have opinions on it think that they can afford to give a "good life" to only one child. The parents I know that wanted to have more than one don't get a lot of understanding from others.

I grew up as an only child. For that reason, if I am blessed with a husband, I want more than one child. I didn't like growing up as an only child and wanted a sibling more than anything else. Children today may not feel the same way that I did because an only child is more common today. The thing that I remember as being the most painful was how other adults treated me because I was an only child. I wouldn't grow up to be an adult with social or negotiating skills, I wouldn't know how to compromise. Looking back on this I realize adults should not have been addressing those comments to a child. But, it still added to the pain of being in a situation that I could not control.

It's interesting to me that many of those that want only one child have the closest relationships with their siblings. They would not trade those relationships for anything and no other relationship comes close to the ones they have with their siblings. However, they think that their child will be content with cousins and other neighborhood kids.

Ultimately, you know what is best for your family. Do what you feel is best and what you feel comfortable providing.

Posted by: curious non-mother | February 27, 2007 7:54 AM

I loved this column, too. I have to tell you that we made a conscious decision to move from the DC area because of the commute that you and your husband are suffering through. It's also why I didn't return to work after my first was born -- my commute was a total of 3 hours each day (we lived in Baltimore). Balancing work and family is difficult even under the best of circumstances, but living in an overpriced, congested area made it so much worse for us.

We never considered having less than two children and thought seriously about having a third. Even if I had only wanted one, the laser beam focus I had on my first (and that he had on me) needed tempering. I actually feel more balanced having two children, and did so almost immediately upon delivering my second (it was kind of strange). I personally can't imagine having only one child, but I see no problem with it. The money and logistics would absolutely be easier with just one. I guess if that's the hand nature had dealt me, I'd make sure I expand my "family" to include close friends with whom the child would grow up.

Also, I recommend a book called "Beyond One" (not sure of the author) for anyone considering having another. I gave it to my SIL when they were thinking about having another and whatever she read confirmed her decision to stick to one. (For me, it was the opposite, so I guess it must be fairly objective.)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 27, 2007 7:54 AM

Thanks guys. I tend to over think things a lot. Family size is only one of my mega thinking sessions. But I agree with ilc. In my own extended family, it goes something like this. Father was an only child and he always thought it was a wonderful position; even though he choose to have three kids himself. Mother was one of three and at no point in the last 20 years has she been on speaking terms with both sisters at the same time. It seems as if three somes are destined to fail. I get along with both of my older brothers but find I am closer to their wives. But am very grateful they are a part of my life. The honest truth is the thing I love the most about having adult siblings is my SILs and my nieces and nephews. DH absolutely gets along with his two sisters from his parents first marriage. One more then the other. But doesn't have a close realtionship with his younger sister and brother. Mostly due to a different marriage and more then a 20 year distance between the two sets of kids. But we love the little kids. They are more like nieces and nephews versus brother and sister. His father has 6 siblings and hates every one of them. At no time, do the 7 kids even get together. His mother is one of 3 and has been estranged for the last 20 years from both her siblings. So much for family dynamic.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 7:54 AM

Foamgnome - What does your husband think? Most people I know that have siblings want more than one child, do you have siblings?

Everything is easier with one kid - I remember those days. Having more children is such a personal decision that I hesitate to give advise. However I do not agree with the following:

"In fact, I think I can count on my hand the number of people I know from 'more than one children' families that actually get along.


Posted by: ilc | February 27, 2007 07:49 AM"

Is the implication that most siblings do not get along? I doubt it. I must say I appreciate my brothers much more as I get older.

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 7:58 AM

I think the decision is also weighted on your neighborhood network. I am one of 6 kids, born from 68-82 (the last 4 in 77, 80, 81, 82) and didn't live near any family. Both my parents worked, my mother about 45 minutes by car and my dad, a teacher, not much closer. Neither could easily get out of work to pick one of us up. There were however SAHMs in the neighborhood that would pick us up when need be. May be different since they were also the designated guardians if something were to happen to my parents, but there was still someone, somewhere we could go to.

As for activities after school, we mostly relied on parents of friends. I can remember being dropped off in the morning for an afternoon soccer game. It may seem pushy, but no one ever complained. We were given jobs to do at my friends' houses and my parents would have it no other way.

It's much different in this area. There aren't as many community centers as where I grew up in the midwest. The younger kids in my family went to pre-school and after school 'care' at the city park that ran a program until 630pm, get this, funded by the city!

Financially, I know my parents were strapped. They bought thier first brand new car when I was in college, and are just now able to go on vacations wherever they want. But I asked them, and they don't regret having six kids. We all received at least partial scholarships for college, and worked over the summers and during the school year to make up the difference. Sure I got out of school with significant student loans, but they are more the size of a kia than a BMW just four years later. And personally, I'd rather have student loans than not have any of my brothers and sisters. They taught me how to scheme, share, not get my way, get my way, work together, work against each other, pick sides, and so many other things.

All that being said, at this point in my life I think two kids is a good number. But, if I move back near any of my siblings, and their kids, one would do. Just my thoughts.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 7:59 AM

Only thing I will add (until I digest it all) is that having a second child helps the child later in life (assuming they get along somewhat as adults) when having to deal with aging parents (i.e. you and your husband).

I've seen the toll that a sick parent can have on an only child trying to take care of the parent - pretty much alone. I've seen how much easier the difficult task gets when there is/are sibling(s) to help out.

Just my $0.02.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 27, 2007 8:01 AM

ilc, can you define "getting along"? Do you mean mean there's occasional bickering or are you saying that most adults do not get along with their siblings?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 27, 2007 8:01 AM

There is nothing wrong with having only one child. Choices like that have to be made with the circumstances in mind. We all have influences like family and friends, and experiences that bring to mind the way we want our families to look. However, life isn't as tidy as our imaginations. Family planning is such a personal choice that you have to keep your own council. I have one child, and for years I had to put up with the kind words of the uninformed saying "You're good parents, people like you should have more children." It used to bother me, but time has proved that the decision to stop at one child was the correct one. Don't let other people's notions affect your decisions. They are private and personal, and have to fit YOUR situation. Never allow others to have a say in that decision. Even if you have occasional regrets, or ask yourself the occasional "what if?" in the end, when the decision is well thought out and you own that decision, you'll never have any doubts.

Posted by: CommonSense | February 27, 2007 8:05 AM

I'm an only child and liked it fine. We're a very flexible family with three and were easily able to take trips and go places and still do. I'm close to my parents (but so are most of my friends) and sometimes I wish I had a brother or sister, but I am close to my cousins (all 19 of them, my parents were not only children). That's something I would take into account: cousins. I don't think only children having only children would be a great thing. I think a small immediate family is fine when it's balanced with a larger extended family.

Posted by: running | February 27, 2007 8:05 AM

That was a great article. I have two boys, 23 months apart, and it is a handful. I also work full time in the federal government, but I have a pretty flexible situation with teleworking and being able to take off at a moment's notice. Also - I am fortunate enough to have only a 15 minute commute into DC. That being said, having two kids is so much harder then my husband and I could have imagined! We have a great partnership, but we still find ourselves absolutely exhausted by the end of day. Do we regret having the second? Absolutely not, but there are times when we are envious of those parents who only have one child.

Posted by: cg | February 27, 2007 8:12 AM

Commonsense wrote some good advice. Difficult to actually do though...no matter what happens in life, it is so easy to imagine the road not taken. For some reason, the road not taken is always greener.

The thing is both the first and the last child will be an only child at some time. The first child is only as a baby/child. The last is an only during high school. Sure, the children are still your kids when they go to college, but they aren't there. I wouldn't have more kids just to prevent having an 'only.' It is good to think about whether to have more kids or not before actually having them. One can be enough and that is fine.

I remember, a couple years after my last, thinking about having another. It just seemed so easy and it was difficult seeing others having babies. We decided we were done with that stage in life. I felt instantly older at making that conscious decision to move on out of the baby-making stage. Interestingly, my husband wasn't affected like I was. Now, 10 years later, I'm glad we stopped when we did. We moved on.

Posted by: dotted | February 27, 2007 8:18 AM

To running @ 8:05

One thing you said may have influenced my unhappiness with my situation. My mother was an only child. My father died when I was young. He came from a large family but due to many reasons, I did not see these cousins much.

Maybe I would have felt different if I had spent more time with my cousins. But, cousins can easily become distant; the parents have to work harder if they want their children to develop a close relationship.

Posted by: curious non-mother | February 27, 2007 8:20 AM

we had twins so no choice in the matter! youngest child born 4 years after her sisters. obviously we did not have #3 to provide a sibling, since that was already taken care of the first time around. my reason was, I didn't like that, without another child, we were doing everything for the first time and the last time. that is, we would get to a stage and enjoy it and then it would be over and no going back. I wanted to re-experience all of it. the younger one would remind me of the way the older ones used to be, and the older ones would remind me of the way the younger one would eventually be. I felt I needed that feeling of being in two stages at once, with the memories and anticipation shooting back and forth, in order to fully realize my own definition of parenting, family, motherhood.

Posted by: green mtns | February 27, 2007 8:23 AM

Let me clarify -- I don't think it's wise to have another child FOR your only child. And that's because there is no guarantee they'll get along. I'm not saying it's a bound and determined fact they'll hate each other on sight, I'm just saying it's all a crap shoot, and if you're having another one in hopes they'll be "bestest buddies," be prepared for disappointment.

So, no, I don't think all "multiples" families are doomed to never speak to each other, but the more kids you add, the more dynamics you add, which can be good or bad.

As for having more siblings around for sick or aging parents, that, too, depends on the other siblings. My husband's brother and sister are, by all accounts, useless and I can tell you right now it will be my husband and I doing all the footwork (and financing).

Posted by: ilc | February 27, 2007 8:23 AM

We are only having one. We started later and I don't want children close together. We have no family in the area to help us out. Financially and logistically, as well as emotionally, it is all we can comfortably handle in our view. That is our situation only and it is different for every person.

As far as siblings, I have one but wish I didn't. That sounds harsh, I know. We truly do not like each other. We never really have. Just very different people, with very different outlooks and temperments. I know folks with siblings who are very close and I know others who are in my situation. Having siblings is NOT a guarantee that all will be great between them and they will be friends forever. So, this consideration is not part of my equation.

Posted by: JS | February 27, 2007 8:24 AM

Great job Foamgnome! I thought your post was really thoughtful and well written.

On the topic, I can't imagine my life without my siblings. Yes, they get on my nervous from time to time, but I just can't imagine my life without them. We are in the process of trying for another one because we want one and we want my daughter to have a sibling too.

I think the most important thing to remember is to do what is right for you and your family. It does help too that we live in a less stressful area and in a lower cost of living now.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 8:26 AM

One last clarification: I don't mean to sound like everyone hates their siblings. What I forgot to mention is that it's really more of a personality difference for myself (and others I know of in the same boat).

My sister and I aren't close, but that's not really anyone's fault -- we're just two completely different people. Our personalities, interests, goals, etc., could not be further from each other. So, while we came from the same two people, you'd think we were born on opposites sides of the world.

Posted by: ilc | February 27, 2007 8:30 AM

Thanks for writing this. I have an only and sometimes feel like we are the only ones who do. We have an only for a few reasons including the fact that I am the primary breadwinner in the family and I don't think I can take the pressure of the additional responsibility. It is difficult for me to admit to that and took me awhile to but I have to be honest with myself.

I like our family size, my son is happy, social kid but I still have a lot of trepidation about our decision.

Does anyone know of "support groups" for parents of onlies? I like I said, in this area, I sometimes feel very isolated in our decision.

Posted by: question123 | February 27, 2007 8:37 AM

"I've seen the toll that a sick parent can have on an only child trying to take care of the parent - pretty much alone. I've seen how much easier the difficult task gets when there is/are sibling(s) to help out.
"

There is no guarantee that the sibling(s) will help out. Many don't and cheerfully dump all the responsibility in someone else's lap.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 8:38 AM

Great guest blog. :)

I'm struggling with this one too - especially how two would impact on my career. I'm working part time for now (happily) but would like to ramp up at some point in the future and it seems like two would make that decision harder, especially if I want to travel.

On the other hand they could go off to daycare together. :)

Posted by: Shandra | February 27, 2007 8:41 AM

Foamgnome, great article. In our case, we started out with me wanting two and my wife wanting four. She grew up as the oldest in a family of four (two girls then two boys) and they all get along very well, even though one brother now lives in Georgia and the other in California. She wanted a situation just like that. I'm the middle of three (older sister/younger brother); I wanted one child of each gender.

We had our first daughter 21 months after the wedding; then our son 21 months after that. Our next daughter was born 14 months after her brother because, well, birth control methods aren't perfect. Our youngest came along four and a half years later for the same reason as the third (you 'd think we would have learned).

But seriously, we're thrilled. When the kids were younger, we handled daycare by: starting with a neighborhood in-home provider who we knew; then having au pairs for three years; and then using the day care center supported by our agency (we were both Feds at the time).

My wife quit for several years because she had gotten to really hate her job, and the costs of the daycare were eating up most of her paycheck.

When the kids were younger and got sick, we split up the "taking a day off" duties, although I usually did it more often because I had more leave. Sometimes the boss was unhappy about it; that was just too bad. (It seemed to depend on whether the boss had kids himself/herself. Bosses with kids were understanding and supportive; childless bosses were less tolerant.) But we both have a work ethic and desire to perform at top level while there, so we made sure we were the most valuable employee the boss had. That made it a lot more tolerable.

In terms of planning for college, support, etc. we always determined that we were going to give the kids the best we could afford. My parents never paid a nickel for any of my/my siblings' education; they couldn't afford to. I got through on academic scholarships and multiple jobs. I wanted to make it easier for the kids, but they're not getting a free ride. So it never entered my mind that by having another child I was taking something away from an older one.

I think it's all a personal choice - you should have another if you and your husband really want to, not because somebody expects you to or you think you owe it to the child or whatever. But at the same time, if you do have another, you'll generally find a way to make things work out.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 27, 2007 8:42 AM

Even if you have more than one they can still be "only children." My brother is six years younger than and I left home for college when he was 11 and never returned. We are not close; in fact, we don't communicate at all. At a party several years ago where he and I were both in attendance I said something referencing him as my brother and his friend from kindergarten (my brother was 22 when this happened) refused to believe I was his sister as he had known my brother all his life and he had never mentioned he had a sister. I have friends who meet my brother and say, I never knew you had a brother! So, if the goal is to create a companion for your existing child, rethink that.

Posted by: write4food | February 27, 2007 8:43 AM

"There is no guarantee that the sibling(s) will help out. Many don't and cheerfully dump all the responsibility in someone else's lap. "

But without a sibling, there's a 100% chance that the child will be the only person there to make the decisions/do the work.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 27, 2007 8:44 AM

Really thoughtful post.

About a decade ago my wife and I made the decision to have a second child. We were both government employees at the time and had very flexible schedules. I would go to the office at 0500 and my wife would start at 0930 and we had a family friend with one child who was expecting that was doing day care for us. It was exhausting, but it seemed to work. We had no idea how we would factor in a second child [especially given that we would likely be losing our very easy day care at the same time].

Looking at the numbers, we realized that the income drop in my wife becoming a SAHM was not as prohibitive as we expected [I was in a technical position two grades up form her]. Given the progressive tax rates and child tax benefits, we determined that my wife was effectively working for about minimum wage when day care and other work expenses were subtracted. In addition, work had offered me the opportunity to pursue a Master's at night at no cost to me.

It's now 10 years later and we have three wonderful children. After a lot of long hours [and weekends and overseas travel] I am now in a position where we are financially well-off, I can work from home [and just took the kids up to the bus stop], and my wife has the opportunity to focus her attention on community activities that mean a lot to her [she's served on the board of directors of a 501c3 she helped found, ran a co-op pre-school, and runs the science fair program for the elementary school at the moment].

There are many ways people can achieve balance -- in our case we chose interdependence and specialization. It's worked -- in large part because we both highly value what the other brings to the relationship.


Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 8:44 AM

Have been lurking in this blog for some time, but something about the topic prompts me to write today ...

It's hard to think of a more intensely personal decision than family size. Whatever you choose, you and your husband both need to be at peace with your decision. That said, I'll offer the perspective of a mother of 2. We have friends who have two kids a year older than our two, and Diane was right when she told us,"It's less than twice as much work, and more than twice as much fun." That may have worked out because of the spacing -- our kids are almost 4 years apart, so the older DD was out of diapers, dressing herself, eating by herself, and capable and (somewhat) willing to help with the baby. DD #1 quietly resented her little sister at first, and still admits that it was nice to have undivided attention, but their relationship is strong and loving now. DD #1 taught DD #2 to read (at least, she likes to take credit for it!), and at 16 and 12 they still enjoy spending time together and miss each other when they're apart, bicker with each other and gang up on Mom and Dad. In short, normal family life for siblings. Without a doubt, it's challenging when they're both little, but like all the childhood stages -- the ones you love and the ones you hate -- it passes.

Two anecdotes: DD #1 was an easy baby and a champion sleeper who slept through the night at 7 weeks. DD #2 was colicky and had to be walked from 4 PM to 11 PM from day 3 to 12 weeks, woke up if you breathed in her room, and didn't sleep through until 6 months. At 8 weeks, when the colic was the worst, I said to DH,"Why weren't we happy with the lovely little girl we had? This is the biggest mistake we've ever made!" Fast forward a few months to a moment of maternal bliss in which I asked DH if he'd like a third (we both have two brothers and had always agreed that threesomes were not the way we wanted to go). He looked me in the eye and said,"Dear, do you really think we need a three-ring monkey circus?" When he put it like that, it was pretty clear! A book I really liked for parents of siblings was Loving Each One Best by Nancy Samalin and Catherine Whitney. Two has been a good number for us. Good luck sorting this out.

Posted by: LML | February 27, 2007 8:45 AM

Like curious non-mother, I was an only child and was not really happy. I spent my entire life day dreaming of a sibling (specifically, an older brother). I still daydream of siblings. My husband's brother lives across the country, and I push him to keep in touch better. They were really close when they lived in the same town. But truthfully, I think its me pushing because I wish I had that.

There is a reason its called "lonely only." beach vacations are boring because there is no one to play with. When the cookie jar is broken, there is no one to blame but you.

Posted by: Ruby | February 27, 2007 8:50 AM

I'm one of those people who is constantly amazed when siblings don't get along as adults. Not everyone is close - personality, interests, goals, and geography can mean that you enjoy seeing each other once a year, but wouldn't take a shared vacation. But in my family, we specifically plan a shared vacation EVERY YEAR. We visit when we can. We are friends, not just siblings.

But while some of that is the common base of family, some of it was being taught to value family. We laugh now, but as we fought to the death as children, my mother would remind us that your family will always be there for you, no matter what. We like to think that of our friends, but every friend I know who has experienced great personal tragedy has learned that the list of friends who are REALLY THERE is shorter than imagined.

Should you have more than 1? I agree with others - the decision is different for each family. You'll make the right choice. But if you do have a 2nd child, remember to teach them that, even when they fight, they will make up. That family is who you can call at 3 AM, when things are just going wrong, and all you need is someone on the other end of the phone nodding his head. The people I know who aren't close to their siblings don't talk about shared experiences. It's not a matter of resentment, but their parents didn't say "no, you can't have a friend over, go play with your sister", or teach them to value the sibling.

No matter what you decide, enjoy your time raising your kid(s).

Posted by: oldest of 3 | February 27, 2007 8:53 AM

I think it's interesting that most of these comments about a second child focus on what impact it will have on the parents. Very me-centered conversation. Seems like whenever someone submits here about not wanting children, they are lambasted for being selfish and only thinking of themselves. Just an observation.

Anyways, in my earlier post I forgot to note that I am the one who will be taking care of our parents if it's needed as my brother can barely take care of himself and is the most selfish and self-absorbed man I have ever met in my life (he will be 31 this year and is angry because our parents won't "help" him even tho he routinely quits jobs and lays about all day lifting not a finger or offering any help around the house). This could be your second child. Or maybe not.

My father has one brother and some older siblings from my grandfather's first marriage that we don't see often if at all. My mother has 5 brothers and sisters and on no day are all 6 of them ever speaking to each other. This could be your situation. Or, maybe not.

I don't have children and my husband and I are ambivalent about it (tho we are talking about it more now since I am 36 and he is 37). He is the youngest of three with 10 years between he and his next oldest sibling and is not close with his siblings who live right here in the area, but who we only see on holidays. This could be your situation. Or, maybe not.

I'd say weigh out what's best for the family -- considering the child and resources you have now.

Posted by: write4food | February 27, 2007 8:58 AM

Since no one else seems to have this experience, I'll share...

I'm basically an only child (I have a half-sibling 15 years older, who was raised in a different household).

As a little kid, my BEST friends were some of the other male only-children in the neighborhood. The four of us were inseparable. We were always at each other's homes, as we lived walking distance. It was even convenient child-care sharing, as when one set of parents went out, the logical thing was to leave their boy with one of the other sets of parents for a sleepover. Had our social status been a little different, there's no doubt that we would have gone on vacations together.

Even today, though one guy got married and seemingly disappeared into witness protection, the other two guys are still the friends I trust most.

I currently have an only child, though we are debating having another. There is no reason that your only child should be lonely. I can already see that my 19-month-old's best friend is a 21-month-old only child. The two of them will only share toys with each other, and will fuss when other kids take the toys.

Obviously you can't match-make your kids into lasting friendships, but you can give them access to kids that they have things in common with.

Limiting yourself to one child does NOT put that child at a disadvantage. If you keep that child socially isolated and over-indulge the child to his/her detriment, that is not a function of your **fertility**, it is a function of your **parenting**.

2 cents.

Posted by: Proud Papa | February 27, 2007 8:59 AM

There's no guarantee that siblings will help take care of parents. My mother is going it alone with her mom because her brother has early onset Alzheimer's and is no help. My dad's older sister basically embezzled money from their parents and left her folks high and dry. So that's no reason to have more than one child.

Posted by: Yup | February 27, 2007 9:02 AM

Great column! Foamgnome, ultimately whether to have another will be a gut decision you and your husband will have to make. I have 2 boys 15 months apart. The second was an accident, but I don't regret it at all. Having 2 close together in age can be challenging and it is definitely more work, but not TWICE as much work. We're actually contemplating a third now. Yes, it will be more work for us, but what we'll gain will make it well worth it.

I was actually in your position last week with sick kids, a husband out of town, and a scheduled court appearance that I had to dump on a partner. He wasn't happy, but he understood. It just happens sometimes. Maybe with a different and more understanding boss, having 2 won't seem quite so overwhelming.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | February 27, 2007 9:03 AM

awesome post foamgnome!

I have four kids and I don't know why, it just sort of happened. I often wonder if my oldest would be a happier person if he was an only child. I think so, but what's done is done, and he does get support from his siblings.

My kids have numerous only child friends. They are well adjusted, good kids. There are lots of onlys out there now. They spend time with friends, who can become surrogate siblings. Extended families or surrogate extended families are a good thing too.

I second the thought on the difficulties of an only child caring for two aging parents. The solution may be that the parents should save enough money to care for themselves, with their child's assistance. And the only child will hopefully get support from friends when caring for aging parents.

Don't worry about college. Start contributing to a 529 plan now. Didn't you say you live in Arlington foamgnome? VA public universities are affordable and awesome!!

Posted by: experienced mom | February 27, 2007 9:03 AM

I asked DH if he'd like a third (we both have two brothers and had always agreed that threesomes were not the way we wanted to go)."

I love threesomes!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:04 AM

Oh, Foamgnome, please don't be scared of having an only child, of not giving your daughter a sibling. I was (am) an only, and I was never lonely, and I stopped wishing for a sibling by the time I was 4 (I only wanted an older brother anyway, and I think I was 4 when I figured, "Hey, it doesn't work like that!").

Being an only child made me mature and independent. I could hold my own in a room full of grownups, even though I was somewhat shy. And my alone time meant I had a vivid and creative imagination--I could entertain myself for hours on end, making up complex storylines and acting them out.

One other bonus of being an only: because my parents weren't paying for multiple daycares, multiple college educations, we could take the occasional guilt-free trip to the beach and DisneyWorld. Plus, my parents were always good about inviting one of my friends to come with us on our trips (another perk of being an "only" was that my parents had the money to bring along another mouth to feed on our vacations). As long as you do your best to socialize your DD (and her being in daycare helps), I'm sure she'll be just fine. You're not necessarily depriving her of anything by not having another child.

Personally, my husband and I (he's an only, too) just had our second child, and we have moments of "What were we thinking?!" (Of course, we had moments like that with just the first one, too!)

Posted by: yet another lawyer | February 27, 2007 9:05 AM

Well, all right, I'll confess that I was absolutely certain that I only wanted one child, until I had my first one.

She was (and still is, at 13!) an absolute delight. I know--I better appreciate the nanoseconds left to me, because all of that can and will change in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, she was SO wonderful that I simply wanted to have another child.

Much as I love my second-born, if that kid had been the first, there would only have been ONE CHILD. Difficult, difficult, difficult!

And money did enter into my thoughts the second time around more so than the first. That's why there are 4+ years between them.

Plus a dear friend of mine who is an only child made a point of sitting down with me and telling me that in his experience, not having a sibling to squabble/share/love/hate has made his life harder with his intimate partner(s). His wife agrees...he didn't know how to fight fair and it's been difficult for him to learn.

I wouldn't trade either of them in, usually, but it's definitely a logistic and monetary challenge.

I am the elder of two. I like having a sibling.

Posted by: MdMother | February 27, 2007 9:08 AM

First of all, you seem to be blaming society for your decision to have additional children. In addition, you seem to think that people have additional children for their first child to have a sibling(s).

So, I think you need to take responsibility for the decision to have additional children. In additional, siblings are not playthings for your first child. You should have additional children because YOU want to have additional children. The idea that you don't have time to spend with each child when you have multiple children is just ridicuous. It's not healthy when you're focused on your one child 24/7. For you, at least, multiple children would help you not become obsessed with your one child.

Also, why in the world do you live in Springfield? I have never understood the insistence of so many people in Northern Virginia on living in crappy, traffic-congested areas not near their works. I hate NoVa. It is, by far, the worst traffic in the country -- and I've lived in SoCal.

Posted by: Ryan | February 27, 2007 9:08 AM

It really is a tough choice but in reading all the replies here I'm of the mind that the whole thing is a crap shoot. If you don't have #2 then she will be lonley, but if you do then they might not get along. I mean really who the hell knows how any of this will turn out?

I think you really need to think about what kind of life you want for your family. We stopped at two because we had one of each and since they were both early we had concerns about a third being too early. So we kind of felt like we won the lottery, two health kids, one of each - DONE. That said, when I it was just my ds and I, I clearly remember thinking, if it is only him, he is enough (I think you said this yourself yesterday). I mean, one healthy kid seems like such a miracle in and of itself. But you need to think about what you would like to provide for them financially and emotionally. We have things that we would like to provide for them that means we need to stop at two. Some other people are happy to have 10 and dress them in sacks (eveyone is different). I also feel like two allows me to be the kind of parent I want to be. I already feel kind of torn, I cannot imagine how I'd feel with more - some other moms and dads feel differently and manage a whole gang. Siblings - jeeze, I had a brother, but always wanted a sister. My dh had 3 sisters, and always wanted a brother. Nothing is ever perfect or just as we want it.

YOu are going to hear loads of anecdotes from people's lives but I think you need to look into your soul and only have another child if you and your dh truly want another child. Much as we want to give our children everything and control everything, we really can't. If she is enough, she is enough. Love her and that will be enough. There's not a lot more any of us can ask for out of life than that.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 27, 2007 9:09 AM

My wife is an only child, and she always said if we had children she would want more than one. Now that we've decided to start a family, though, I think she's reconsidered that position, especially at our age (mid-40's for me, early 40's for her). I think one child will be all we can handle now; once we get pregnant if we have twins we'll have to use the man-to-man defense instead of double-teaming!

Posted by: John | February 27, 2007 9:11 AM

Also, why in the world do you live in Springfield? I have never understood the insistence of so many people in Northern Virginia on living in crappy, traffic-congested areas not near their works. I hate NoVa. It is, by far, the worst traffic in the country -- and I've lived in SoCal.

Maybe she doesn't want to live in DC with all the crime and crappy schools. N-va is the nicest place to live in that area.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:12 AM

Great column, excellent topic. As an only child, I can attest to the difficulty of caring for sick and aging parents. My mother is the oldest of seven chidren. When my grandmother (her mother) developed dementia she needed round the clock care and had very few assets. All seven siblings chipped in for a top facility, and the four siblings in town divided the calendar week to week for visits and care. My grandmother had a visitor every single day she was in the nursing home -- the staff was amazed.

Contrast this with my experience earlier this year. My father (my parents are divorced and my dad is not married) was diagnosed with a rare, late stage cancer. He went through three surgeries, chemo, radiation and a clinical trial. For several weeks, he needed non-stop care and couldn't be left alone because he was very weak and out of it on painkillers. And 100% of everything fell to me -- transportation to and from the hospital every day for treatments, keeping track of prescriptions and medications, making appointments with specialists when necessary, making sure he was eating properly (his cancer made eating extremely difficult), keeping friends and colleagues informed, dealing with the emotional side of things and also legal things such as living will and estate plans. He made it through, but if he hadn't, the entire funeral process would have been on my shoulders as well.

We were lucky that I live in the same city and that I am self-employed and able to take the income hit by halting work for four months to deal with the treatment. I have two young children and a wonderful husband to help keep things on track at home, but it was brutal. And if you have an only child, they could be in the same boat. Even if sibling relationships aren't strong, having an extra set of hands during a crisis may be invaluable.

I know that isn't the only thing to factor in to a difficult decision, just wanted to share my view. Thanks again for a great column.

Posted by: onlychild | February 27, 2007 9:14 AM

foamgnone,

My quick answer is have number two! If you are so on the fence about this, you will regret not having a second child at some point later in your life.

More complete answer to follow. I have to go see #3!

Posted by: Fred | February 27, 2007 9:14 AM

Slightly off-topic but I keep noticing a tendency to "charge" daycare costs against only the mother's salary. To me, this implies that the father has no responsibility in the day-to-day care of the child(ren). Allocating the cost of childcare this way also denies the following costs of staying home to the woman:

erosion of employability over time; access to health benefits should husband's ability to provide for them be lost due to unemployment, disability, divorce, death; loss of buildup of retirement savings/pension.

These factors do/did factor into my own decision to have a second (and not third) child and the decision to be at home for awhile. My second child is in morning preschool and will attend full-day kindergarten when the time comes. I did work part-time for awhile after he was born, but we've relocated and I've decided not to return to work until he starts kindergarten. I'm grateful for the time I've been able to stay home with my young children but will be relieved to regain some security when I return to the workforce.

I do think in terms of going from one to two children, spacing matters too. My two are not quite three years apart. I wouldn't have wanted much more space between them as that would have prolonged the out-of-work stage for me. To me, to be out of the workforce for too many years would be neglecting my reponsibility to contribute to the financial security (not only salary!) of my family.

Real-life warning: Social security disability benefits do not apply if a person has not been employed for at least five of the last ten years. If a SAHM becomes disabled, there would be no SS help to pay for her care or care of the children. Children are eligable for benefits in the case of death. N.B. I haven't verified this recently, but it was true when I checked a couple of years ago. I know a woman who had been a SAHM for a number of years who was severely disabled and couldn't be left alone for an extended period. Her husband had to pay for help at home completely out-of-pocket.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | February 27, 2007 9:19 AM

My One and Only

Confession: I only want one child; the wonderful 3-year-old girl I already have. If you're a parent of a child over the age of 1, you're familiar with these popular questions:

"When are you going to start on #2?"
"Oh, but she NEEDS a sibling"
"You're young- you'll change your mind" (or alternately, if an older mom "You better hurry up and have another- you're over 40")

"Never"
"no, she doesn't"
and "I don't think so.


I have to say that I am baffled by the response I get upon rendering the verdict on my reproductive life. My first instinct is to brush it off. After all, they're just attempting to validate their own choices by insisting I follow in their footsteps, right?

Do they think I'm such a great parent and have raised a child so beautifully that I need to populate the Earth with more little ones?

Do they want someone with whom to commiserate on the difficulties of raising multiple kids?

Are they concerned that if my one dies then I'll be all alone, with no back-up kids?

I honestly always thought I'd have 2. I have a little brother and we fought like cats and dogs until he stopped being the Most Annoying Person on the Planet (insert movie clip of Little Brother and Big Sister in backseat of car on Summer Vacation: repeat ad infinitum for 15 years), but we are incredibly close now and I wanted my daughter to have that as well.

I won't go into The List reasons for not having another child (The List contains concrete reasons for stopping at one- college, retirement, housing (the money list) career, sleep (the time list) and travel and hobbies (the lifestyle list)). Could I keep it all together with another child?

The real reason is the feeling I get when it is me and my daughter, or me, my daughter and my husband, all together on a Saturday morning at brunch or the playground and it just feels right. There's no shadow baby haunting me. I yearn for the baby days when I see how big she is getting, I coo at babies, and think newborn clothes are the sweetest things ever, yet it's not another child I want. It's nostalgia for a sweet time, a wonderful memory in our lives.

So, why did you stop at one, or go for broke and add another (and another and another)? Why was it the right fit for your family?

Foamgnome- not to steal your thunder, but I submitted this to Leslie on the same topic (I guess mine was too late! lol) Instead of writing out a whole new post, I'll add it here.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 27, 2007 9:22 AM

I'm an only child of an only child and a youngest-of-three-but-only-son. There was, yes, a point in which I wanted a sibling, starting from about age 5 when I hit kindergarten and figured out my situation wasn't necessarily the norm. I got over it somewhere around the age of 9.

The nice thing though is at least in my experience it means that the definition of "family" can become very nicely fluid. I am an only child but I have two friends who are also onlies (well, one's a pseudo-only because she has about half a dozen half-siblings who are a good 12 years younger than she is) and whom I do consider my sisters and vice versa, and we are in all but blood and name. If the emotional need for a sibling is there, the kid will find a way to compensate. Have kids for yourself, not the kid. Kids are surprisingly adaptable and onyl children do not automatically turn out unhappy and lonely, just like all multiples do not automatically turn out to be the best of friends and 100% supportive of each other.

Also -- in a way my mother's being an only actually made it *easier* for her to deal with my grandmother's retirement and whatnot, as she was the only one making the decisions once my grandmother couldn't anymore and there was no possible arguements between siblings over should we do this or that when it came to her care. Once she made her decisions with regard to my grandmother's care, the doctors could go forward and my mother awaited the next round rather than arguing with siblings who disagreed. YMMV on this, of course, I'm just stating my experiences in this regard.

Posted by: Only Child and Happy with it. | February 27, 2007 9:22 AM

Thank you for your honesty, foamgnome! I am pregnant with number 2, and I feel a little panicked about the prospects of two (my son is now 18 months) for so many of the reasons you describe. I work from home very part time, and financially that works as long as there's no emergency. Being pregnant again means things will be even tighter until I return to work -- and even then, the cost of day care and the logistics of both of us working and commuting boggle my mind. I think the key is to take a DEEP breath and decide what it is that you and your husband really want for your family, not just now, but in the future. My husband and I felt very strongly about having two (rather than 1), because we think the sibling relationship can be amazing. I'm very close to my two brothers, and always have been. I like having the shared memories. That said, however, there is NOTHING wrong with having one. As long as it's the decision you're comfortable with. For us, despite the current challenges, we want two and feel that things won't always be this way. Someday we may move near my parents, and someday we may live where the cost of living is lower, and we might get jobs that we love and are worth the small family sacrifices. I try to remember (and it's hard) that it is most likely a long life, and what's true today might not be true down the road.

Posted by: writing mommy | February 27, 2007 9:24 AM

Foamgnome,

Great post - thank you for sharing your thoughts and worries. I was in a similar position after my daughter was born, and Marc and I debated for about a year all the pros and cons of going for Number 2. He's here now, and a life is good, but I personally had to get to the point where I felt deep in my soul that one child was just fine before I could make the decision.

Having only one child is a wonderful, valid, loving choice. Most only-children have a special relationship with their parents that has more intimacy and a more grown-up feel to it. Only children create a family of friends rather than siblings. And as many posters above have illustrated, there is no guarantee that what you have in mind for a loving sibling relationship will actually happen.

The scales were tipped toward going for 2 kids for us simply because time was running out for us to try (I was 42 when my son was born) and we figured we'd better see if it is even possible (and then possibly explore adoption if not). I was raised by my mom only (my dad died when I was young; we had no family living anywhere nearby) and had a younger sister; my sister is to this day my very close friend and confidant, primarily because we relied on each other so much as kids. I really had to teach myself to recognize that my own family situation is not the same as my childhood - my daughter has both of us, and if she were an only child, I know that would have been okay.

You may want to check out OnlyChild.com. I remember finding it helpful.

I hope you enjoy your day on On Balance!

Posted by: equal | February 27, 2007 9:26 AM

Foamgnome, thanks for posting this. We have two, but only after a LOT of soul-searching -- my daughter is very high-maintenance, I have a fairly demanding career, and we had a busy but comfortable routine going on, so why would I want to mess with that? For me, the big thing was that I was both an "only" and a sibling -- I am my mom's only child, but I also got four steps and halfs between the ages of 9-14. I'm not tremendously close to any of them (age difference + we never lived together), but my life would be so much poorer without them. And I wanted my daughter to learn that she was not the center of the universe.

I still don't know if we made the right decision. Ok, that sounds wrong, but I don't know how to say it right. I adore my son and there's no way I would change that decision. But it has been harder than anticipated. It's true that two is not twice as much work as one. It's an extra load of laundry, four plates instead of three, two heads to shampoo instead of one, a couple of extra sick days, etc. But when your day is already packed to the gills, that extra 30 mins or hour has to come from somewhere, and it doesn't take much to push it over the edge. For us, the extra time has come at the expense of ourselves -- less sleep, less real cooking, more working at home at night to make up for sick days. Basically, right now, life is more about logistics and knuckling down to make sure everything is taken care of, and less about just having fun with my kids.

Part of me knows it will get better -- baby boy is 16 months now, so at a very high-maintenance stage. But I also wish I could sometimes just enjoy that stage more. I am very, very conscious that this is my last time with a toddler, so even when he gets me up in the middle of the night, as I snuggle him I think I better enjoy this now, because in a few years, my snuggle bunny is going to be an independent little boy who doesn't want PDA from mommy any more.

I think things would be easier with one. Then again, who's to say that if we had stopped there that I wouldn't have filled up the available time with other things anyway, and been just as busy? And then baby boy burrows his face in my neck, with his blond ringlets tickling my cheek, sighs with contentedness, and my heart flip-flops.

Posted by: Laura | February 27, 2007 9:27 AM

I agree that it would be very helpful to talk at great length with one's husband about the logistics of raising more than one child. Sort of like Marc & Amy's Guest Blog on Equal Parenting last week.

I also hear from a lot of younger pre-moms who are thinking about not having any children at all because they hear so much from older moms about how difficult the juggling act becomes, even with one. Kind of sad in my opinion. In Japan and a handful of European countries, women are avoiding marriage and children for the same reasons -- too much is expected of women. I think would be a shame if that happened in this country. Men, our gov't and companies have got to catch on that offering support and flexibility to moms is a better solution than driving women to avoid having kids altogether.

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 9:28 AM

Most only-children have a special relationship with their parents that has more intimacy and a more grown-up feel to it

Where is the proof to back up this statement?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:28 AM

Great perspective. With two, my husband and I both work and we're making it work, but I can't see that happenong forever. I think more flexibility when the kids are older will be good. My husband only ever wanted 2 as we both come from fams of 3 and the middle sibs are definitely the textbook definition of middle sibs (both girls). So then I thought about having 4 but I'm just too tired! I think it is more of how you want you're family to be-with more sibs, I thinks kids are more independent and find the sib(s) they get along with better and with fewer, you're just stuck with who you get-which is a good lesson too-that you can get along with people you might not have originally found as a friend.
H
Being one of 3 girls, if we had had 2 girls, I would *never in a million years* have another unless adopting a boy to ensure not having another girl - MIL is one of three girls too. My friend with 2 girls got angry at me when I said that.
Anyway, I have a friend with one and they made the decision toi have one because they love him yet like their flexible lifestyle. It is all personal preference.
I told my DH that more kids would mean more grandkids and he said it is too long to wait...

Posted by: atlmom | February 27, 2007 9:29 AM

I also agree with ilc. I am an only child (parents would have liked to have one more but couldn't) and I have no regrets about the way I was raised. I have always had a very close relationship with my parents and I think part of that stems from not having to "share" them with anyone else. I'll admit that I went through a phase when I was about 5-6 years old when I would've like to have a younger sibling, but I quickly got over that as I saw friends bickering with theirs all the time. My husband is one of 4 children and never had a close relationship with his brothers (or his parents really) while growing up. We have one daughter and she will probably be an only child. I love being a mom, but with a full-time job and limited financial resources I just can't see adding another child into the mix (even though my parents live nearby and help out with child care). Who knows, maybe in a few more years I'll feel differently (daughter is only 1 1/2 now). If she is an "only" like me, I just hope that she marries someone with siblings so that she can have nieces and nephews. I also think that the drawbacks to being an "only" really come into play later in life as your parents get older and all of the pressure of taking care of them and making tough decisions fall on your shoulders without the support of siblings. I'm not at that point yet but I can foresee the difficulties.

Posted by: sunny fl | February 27, 2007 9:30 AM

"Siblings are the anvil on which we forge our personalities."

I hope I'm not misquoting someone here, but I loved that when I read it. I think siblings are great - but do what feels right for your family!

Posted by: Fairfax | February 27, 2007 9:30 AM

I am an only child. There are advantages and disadvantages. I had many opportunities that I would not have had if I had siblings. There simply would not have been enough money and the logistics would have been more challenging for my parents. Overall, I am just as glad I don't have any siblings.

Posted by: only child | February 27, 2007 9:31 AM

"In Japan and a handful of European countries, women are avoiding marriage and children for the same reasons -- too much is expected of women. I think would be a shame if that happened in this country."

I think that would be WONDERFUL if it happened anywhere! Ever hear of over population?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:32 AM

Leslie, I think you just issued an odd statement:

"In Japan and a handful of European countries, women are avoiding marriage and children for the same reasons -- too much is expected of women."

Maybe I am reading you wrong, but I don't think this is the type of statement you want to make -- sounds like society dictating to women what they can/can't do and be considered a 'success.'

I think normally you use much more empowering language. Are you just cynical on this issue? Most men I know always feel comfortable saying, "I don't care what X thinks, I'm doing what I think is right." It seems to me that women have that same option.

Posted by: Proud Papa | February 27, 2007 9:32 AM

Great post. We have a 7 month old now and defintitely want one more. I was an only child and did not like it at all- like others, always wanted a sibling and felt "different" than everyone else. I also had a difficult time adjusting to living with other people when I began college and life (although have pretty much overcome that now...) Of course, my parents were also divorced and all the other families in my neighbohood were "traditional". But, it's really a personal choice. I'm sure if you provide a loving environment and the child has lots of friends, he will be fine.

I also agree that you should try and get out of DC. I have a 3 hour round trip commute from Baltimore which I hate, so am looking hard to find something in B'more or anywhere else that offers a better quality of life. Unfortunately, all the good, well-paying jobs in my field are here.

Anyway, thanks for the post and sharing your angst. It's good to know I'm not the only one struggling mightily with these issues.

Posted by: JDS | February 27, 2007 9:34 AM

I am an only child, and was very happy growing up. I currently have a 2-year old daughter, and we have been debating this for some time. For us, part of what comes into play is that I have no siblings, and my husband has none in the area. If DD is an only child, she will have no siblings and no cousins.

On the other hand, I do not think I can handle 2 close together. We plan to have another child when our daughter is 3-4. I actually don't worry too much about finances, probably because I am a SAHM so adding a second child won't add much cost in the immediate future. We live very simply (in a small townhouse, drive 2 ancient cars, rarely go out), and we are happy that way. If we were living a more extravagant lifestyle, I would have to go back to work and I think having another child would become very problematic.

Posted by: Reston | February 27, 2007 9:34 AM

OK, to answer a few questions. DH really wants a second child because he has a close relationship with one of his sisters. He also worries as she gets older she will not have anyone else to convide and share her joys and troubles with. We honestly don't worry too much about when we get older. Because of what I have seen is one child gets stuck taking care of the aged parents. It is usually a combination of schedules, relationship, and geographic proximity that determines who takes care of their parents. Given we have one child, we should have enough $$ to take care of ourselves. DD might just have to oversee that our care takers do not abuse us or steal from us. As far as why we live in Springfield, well we bought our house there because we could afford a house there. At the time, property values were rising pretty close and we knew if we lived in the District we could not afford private schools. DC is great if you can afford private schools. Besides when we bought our house I was working in MD and DH was working in Falls Church. It made no sense to live in the District. We also think that a suburban lifestyle on weekends was more appealing that a city life. We knew we could always metro in to see the sites but liked having our own yard and a nice neighborhood school. We don't actually live far from our jobs; distance wise. It is just the traffic and congestion that creates these crazy commutes. It would be hard to find comparable jobs with shorter commutes. So having at least a 45 minute commute is probably always on the table for us. I don't get why someone thinks I am blaming society. I am simply saying these are the things that factor into our daily life. But there always seems to be at least on ugly comment on each one of these blogs. So I designate that one to be it for today. I guess a lot depends on what you think you could give each child. I see time as being the hardest to give each child. When you both work and commute, it is really hard to see how you have enough quality or quantity of time to devote to each child. Also there are things above and beyond that we would like to provide. Even if we could give both kids a college education, we definitely could not help with grad school or a down payment on a house. I am not at all saying that we feel this is a necessity to parenting. But wouldn't it be nice to be able to do those things. I guess DH and I did not get any support as adults from our parents. Not just in monetary ways. But I noticed parents of only adult children, still come down to help their child move or help with the grand kids. It just gets harder with multiple kids. DD does go to day care and is very socialized. I don't worry that she will be lonely or unsocialized. I guess the one thing that disturbs me is DH thinks DD needs a sibling. But I never hear that he wants to nurture and love another child. It is always all about our DD. I personally would have loved to have two, if I did not have to work. I would have loved to experience it again (except for the sleepless nights). With the adoption potentially failing and a job switch, the time to have another child doesn't seem right. I am already 36 and wonder did our opportunity just pass us by? Yes moxiemom, if DD was our only she would be enough for me. But would she be enough for her or for her father?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 9:34 AM

Great column. My husband and I had a lot of the same fears as you, and decided to have a second child anyway. We're now about 3 months pregnant with our second child.

I think sticking with one is a fine decision. For us, though, (and we're not generally sappy types at all) it came down to the overwhelming, sort-of miraculous joy that our first baby brought into our lives. Don't get me wrong- we're exhausted too. And money is an issue for us, too. Especially affording daycare for two.

But seriously, we aren't doing it so that our first child can benefit from a sibling- I have a sister, and I can't stand her. We're having another kid for the much more selfish reason that the first one is the best thing that ever happenend to us, and we want to repeat the experience.

Posted by: Rock Creek Mama | February 27, 2007 9:36 AM

"Siblings are the anvil on which we forge our personalities."

I hope I'm not misquoting someone here, but I loved that when I read it. I think siblings are great - but do what feels right for your family!

Posted by: Fairfax | February 27, 2007 09:30 AM


Why can't one "forge" their personality on folks other than siblings? What about classmates and other friends?

It is horrendously simplistic to assume that someone is close enough to their sibling to consciously model a life after them. And if it's unconsious then the source of the modeling is more than just the sibling, it's likely all observed behaviors.

So yeah, while it's a nice artsy quote, does it stand up to scrutiny??

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:38 AM

What if there are no cousins? Does this make a difference in anyone's family size decisions? I am an only child and DH has one brother, but his brother is out of state and 10 years older (so DH was basically raised as an only child) with one 15 year old nephew and DH is not close to brother or nephew (he has never called either, only sees them sometimes at Christmas and Thanksgiving).

I know a lot of adult only children and the issue with sick parents comes up a lot. It seems like with my friends with siblings (even if the siblings don't get along) one seems to be around when something happens to the parents (surgery, hospitalizations, cancer diagnoses) - granted a lot of times one sibling steps up more than the others, but still there is more balance. With only's they are expected to drop everything and take care of everything on their own.

Interestingly though, I never really wanted siblings and I am happy as an only, but I have always wanted 5 or 6 kids. Although I think I will probably limit it to 3 or 4 because of college costs.

Posted by: AllisonNY | February 27, 2007 9:39 AM

I can totally relate to your work situation - and this is my new job! I thought that working for someone with a smallish child would be more sensitive to my situation... but she is married and the childcare (emergency care) is divided. I definately get tense looks and frustration when my child is once again sick, because it is winter and this is her first year of preschool. My advice, never start a new job and have your child in their first year of school at the same time - too many colds, earaches, and "fevers" at 100 degrees.

As for having another child; I come from a family of three, and my parents come from familes of 4 and 5 children - so I always imagined having at least 3. Though, I am single without a prospect of a husband/father, getting old fast, and really tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I just cannot imagine adding another little one the the mix, yet am not sure how I feel about only having one... though life circumstances may make that decision for me, and I should just not worry about it now.

Posted by: single mom | February 27, 2007 9:39 AM

My perspective is slightly different. As I watch my parents struggle with end-of-life issues for their parents, they completely and utterly rely on their siblings. As my parents in the past year have needed my sister and I more involved in their healthcare, I've been glad to have a co-conspirator who knows the background and who truly knows the people. In these situations, much later in life, siblings can be invaluable. I know that I'll have two kids simply for this reason.

There's nothing wrong with one but, when it comes to these end-of-life situations, when there's only one person for parents to lean on and only one person to provide thoughtful input, sometimes that second person (or third, fourth, etc.) can provide insight and bear some of the burden.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 9:39 AM


Obviously there are pros and cons either way and the pros and cons have different levels of emotional resonance for different people. So I'll talk about some pros I feel personally for more-than-1 though it's no judgment on those who choose only one, to bask in a different set of pros . . .

Personally, to me, my parenting and my family feel a lot more balanced with more than 1 (we have 2). Personally, the way I experienced having just one was different --- like a federation of 3 personalities, each to some extent autonomous and unique. The whole parenting experience/window onto childhood was through the prism of just one individual child, so parenting was more responsive to planning for/shaping experiences for 1 important person. It was more of a doting, personality-centered experience. I don't want to say she was a hothouse flower, that's way overstating it, but the focus was much more on her experience, on nurturing her. It was hard not to always feel that mama bear protective, that awe/adoration. Then on the other hand, there's also the conflation of her individuality and personality with her status as child --- as if the only reason for childishness, for aggravating or limited stages, is her, personally. When I had more than one it was easier to separate the child-ness, the stages, from my child as an individual personality; and easier to take the inevitable pull down to earth to deal with age-appropriate issues --- say control issues, or consistency, or whining, or not following through/self-directing --- it was much easier to separate these inevitable unpleasantries as generic kid behavior, incurred generically by the decision to parent a kid, and no particular reflection on my individual child, and to appreciate more the individuality that shines through the baseline of age-appropriate kidness. With 2 neither has to be the flagbearer for childhood, the sole representative of childish things in the household. With 2, when you plan outing/trips, you don't think, what activities could x do? what should we pack for x? Instead, you think, what are the kid-centered activities? What supplies do we need for the kids? And that depersonalizes it in a way that makes it more a generic responsibility of parenting, of planning for the whole family, and less intensely centered/attached to a single child.

I really think at least going to kids versus a-specific-only-child levels the field, gives the kids more even and diffuse representation, on par with the parents. To me it makes a family more group(s)-centered than individual-centered. To me there is more cohesiveness, more we're all a part of a vibrant and diverse group who love each other, rather than a quiet cultivation of our extension by one from a couple, in a family that lives only in one moment in childhood then forgets it as their single child-emissary leaves it behind forever.

The ways that having 2 tempers parenting are extensive. When we had only 1, she got many indulgences/prerogatives as the child --- the grown ups just naturally show patience and tolerance and put a child's wants paramount, as it's a joy to see her happy. I remember reading, I think Penelope Leach about the shock of preschool, when many kids first encounter others who don't naturally agree that *they* should *of course* get to go first/have the biggest cookie/brightest toy. With a sibling, one balances between wants and needs that are more equally compelling; you can't just have one child always cede to the other because they're content to see their sibling always have the fun. Also, there's a real tendency to feel things from inside your own child's skin, when there's only one, to deeply feel their hurts, and to understand/forgive their infractions. But the first time your child is grievously wronged by that monster --- oops, your other treasured child --- is often really the first time you feel both sides. And that occurs so often with siblings, not out of nastiness, but out of children's slow learning to grow out of self-centeredness, that it fosters many opportunities to cultivate empathy in the siblings for each other, and to set and deeply believe in limits. Partly it's just because you are there, seeing all this interaction and with deep understanding of both kids involved --- it really creates a context for deep guidance parent to child about how we treat each other, and why, the values behind that. For me, I certainly never moved past the inner-rage, that-monster, feeling when my kids were hurt, until it was my other child doing the hurting . . . The teachable moments are so abundant with more than one, because you're not directing/immediately involved in all the activity, there's continuous interaction and you have a front-row seat to all of it . . .

The logistics do get more complicated. But, with our girls at 6 and 9, we feel like we've gotten over a hump to a point where it's a trade-off between logistics and neediness. Because when we're just at home, when we're not shuttling to activities, more often than not nowadays the kids disappear off to play or do projects together, or individually in frequent consultation with each other, and totally ignore us. We are not the major outlet for interaction/playing in the house, their preferred playmates are each other. We do still have to pester them to finish homework, music practice, etc, and in some ways they distract each other from those tasks to fun . . . but aside from that outside requirement to steward tasks, most of our interaction with the kids is very mutual, let's have some fun *together* now, not I-need-a-parent for any fun or company.

And of course, once you have that 2nd child, and love both of them, you really feel deep in your soul how much they enrich each others' lives, how lucky they are to have each other to share a life history of stories and experiences together, and to share companionship and imagination and avocations with each other. . . Having parents and a sibling in that most intimate circle, with a sibling so much closer to the child's perspective and daily experience reference frame, it's just such a richer network of love and support and understanding . . .

I also think having siblings as an adult, having a network of family to always return to and share a cumulative life history of experience, as one parents and as one ages, is a real life enricher.

Posted by: KB | February 27, 2007 9:42 AM

And having more than one is no guirantee in the older parent issue-my mom passed when she was in her 50s so her sis is taking care of grandma mostly alone. She hads grandkids help, but not nearly enuf-wemostly live out of town from where she is-not where we grew up.

Posted by: atlmom | February 27, 2007 9:42 AM

To 9:28 poster: My sentence about only children having a special type of relationship with their parents comes from what resonated for me when I was reading up on the lives of only children. It is a broad generalization, of course. But I could definitely see how this would be common and could be a lovely thing. I don't mean that children with siblings have a less-than-special relationship with their parents, but it is probably a slightly different relationship.

Posted by: equal | February 27, 2007 9:42 AM

Everyone is so accustomed to being in total control of family size and circumstances in our modern society. In general, that is true. However, sometimes life does throw some wrenches into your plans. My husband and I used to be one of those couples who said, after the birth of our second child, which gave us the perfect "one girl, one boy" family; "we're finished having kids now."
Well...meet our third child, a little son born 7.5 years after his sister, after my husband's vasectomy grew back, or "re-channeled" in medi-speak.
After the initial shock, we accepted him warmly and with excitement. Our older children (and their friends!) were thrilled and still dote on their little sibling constantly. I will say, though, that at the same time it has warmed our hearts, it is really wearing on our finances. Saving for college, paying for extracurriculars, paying for childcare, etc. for two kids was doable on our professional income, which includes me working 20 hours a week. We could still set aside enough after savings and activities to have a nice vacation. Now our vacations are very close to home and low-budget, the holidays are pretty low-key and not as extravagant, and we often have to say "no, we can't afford that" to our older kids. Sometimes we feel like we're the only ones in our neighborhood who don't go to Vail or Steamboat skiing over Winter Break or jetting to Paris for Spring Break. These are things people didn't do very much when I was growing up, perhaps because families were so much bigger, and doing without luxuries was what people did and represented the normal situation in all of my friends households back in the seventies. Nobody was really poor, but it seemed like the constant refrain of everyone's parents was "we can't afford that right now." I don't think I've ever heard of any of my children's friends' families now saying that even once in all the time I've had kids (14 years). So, yes, it has eaten away at us financially to have our third child (especially so unexpectedly) and it does throw our household into chaos, juggling acts, and seemingly endless noise and mess on occasion, but what we've gotten in return is something I'd never trade for the fancy vacations an extra money. This new little person has taught us all to step back and take a breather, he has shown my older two how to be a lot less self-centered, and it has made us all realize what really counts in this world and to remember that people count more than the toys.
By the way, hang in there on trying to find a family friendly boss -- they are out there, and they are worth working for, even for a bit less pay. My employer is very family friendly and has been very patient as I've had to take off of work here and there for a recent stomach bug that ravaged our family (brought home from preschool by our littlest, of course!) Remember to point out that it's not just people with kids who sometimes need flexibility. Other people, in increasing numbers, will be faced with caring for elderly parents and relatives and will need similar patience and flexibility.
Good luck!

Posted by: Momof3 | February 27, 2007 9:43 AM

foamgnome, don't sell yourself short. You did nothing illegal by taking sick leave to take care of your child. It is a legitimate use of gov't sick leave. Your boss will get over it. Moreover, you will outlive your boss....You cannot be penalized in any way, according to gov't regs for doing what you did.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:45 AM

Why a sibling?

As you say, many "only" children are happy and well adjusted - so why not?

Here is one reason that may not be apparent but which I have witnessed first hand in several instances.

The children of only children do not fare as well. When only children become parents of more than one child, they have no concept of the relationships of their children to each other. They do not understand when their children argue/fight/compete. It is a natural phenomenon but they see it as something hostile/wrong with their children. Even with their scraps, the children are very close - then they grow up and have families of their own and grow apart - as is normal. The only parent does not understand why their children aren't as close as they once were. In one instance that I know of both parents are only children and there is total lack of understanding there.

So apart from the current pros and cons, consider the future.

Posted by: pegwc | February 27, 2007 9:45 AM

Thank you for sharing your thought processes with regard to # of children in your family. It is an intensely personal decision and no one can tell you what is right for your family.

I am a little concerned about your work situation. As a parent, I certainly understand the anxiety of having a sick child and potentially having to take off work. However, you need to look at it from your employer's point of view. It's not that you're a parent per se necessarily (though sometimes it is), it is the sense that you are not prepared for these situations and to the employer, it looks like a lack of responsibility to your job. Your employer may expect that you have back-up plans for these situations. It's not his problem that your husband is out of town, that you don't have family nearby and that your child is sick. I'm not unsympathetic, but you need to see it from your employer's point of view and not make him or her out to be the bad guy. You may think the answer is changing jobs (and it might be), but it may also be that you devise back up plans for situations such as this.

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 9:48 AM

here's the motto my husband and i used when deciding not to have a second child:
"better for alice to have parents that like each other than a sibling"

our beautiful baby girl, alice is now 18 and i am so glad she is in our life, but also very glad my husband and i did not have another child

we started late - i was 32, my husband was 42
that first year was a huge adjustment and after the first year of alice's life we were just starting to relax and feel like a great threesome

i was afraid of the toll it would take on my marriage --that was the deciding factor

i also enjoyed my work and yes it was hard balancing, i did like working in the field i went to college for (design)

my schedule is now part-time work, this happened when alice was 13. here's a clue --they don't warn you about middle school years --that was the scariest time for us as parents. i took a 4 month leave to really focus on my daughter. when i came back, my wonderful com[pany agree to let me work until 2PM everyday, so i could pick here up from school

good luck in your decision, my advice is really think what you want, not your child. and also what's priority in your life
your child will be OK if you and your husband are OK

sue.

Posted by: sue, cincinnati | February 27, 2007 9:48 AM

I disagree with your generalization of children of only children. My mother was an only child and she had 2 children BECAUSE she missed having siblings. The issue of fighting was handled between me and my sibling was as I imagine in any other family. I'm not sure you can make an assertion like that--is it based on facts or your anecdotal experience? Certainly not my experience.

Posted by: To pegwc | February 27, 2007 9:51 AM

"The real reason is the feeling I get when it is me and my daughter, or me, my daughter and my husband, all together on a Saturday morning at brunch or the playground and it just feels right. There's no shadow baby haunting me. I yearn for the baby days when I see how big she is getting, I coo at babies, and think newborn clothes are the sweetest things ever, yet it's not another child I want. It's nostalgia for a sweet time, a wonderful memory in our lives. "


SAHMbacktowork- I think this so eloquently spells out the actual feelings that go into the decision to stop at one (or two, or whatever feels right).
That shadow baby comment really got me.

This really highlights that it's about what's right for you and your child- NOT the so-called benefits of having a larger family or the pressures that you'll need a bunch of kids to take care of you in old age or so they'll have each other when you and hubby die! They sound like such silly reasons after I read what you wrote on how you FEEL.

Most people feel that I'm selfish or cold for not wanting more kids, but I just totally agree with you! It's not that I don't love babies- I do! I just don't feel as if I need another to complete my life.

Thanks for actually spelling it out for me (and others) You really put into words how I feel

Posted by: sticking at 1 too | February 27, 2007 9:52 AM

To: Another Librarianmom

Slightly off-topic but I keep noticing a tendency to "charge" daycare costs against only the mother's salary. To me, this implies that the father has no responsibility in the day-to-day care of the child(ren).

___________________________

I don't think you're reading that right, particularly in my case. I know that your conclusion is wrong, in my case and in many others.

First, we agreed from even before our marriage that it was never going to be "my money" and "your money"; it's all "our money". We operate from a joint budget. (I realize that not all families do, but it works for us.)

So, when my wife got to the point where she hated her job so much that she really, really just wanted to quit and be an SAHM for a few years, we did the financial analysis based (a) losing her income, plus all the ancillaries like retirement savings, etc.; and (b) decreasing day care, commuting, and related costs. It worked out that we could afford to take the hit. But that analysis wasn't done because we were charging day care against her paycheck; it was because the loss of her paycheck was the topic under discussion. If it had been me thinking of quitting, we would have done the analysis the other way.

(And yes, since I'm an engineer and she's an analyst, I've always made way more money than her. Salary structure in the US is (mostly) a matter of supply and demand. There are far fewer engineers and a greater demand for them than the situation for analysts, so even the Feds pay engineers more. So it was easier on the budget for her to quit; I probably couldn't have done it.)

Posted by: Army Brat | February 27, 2007 9:53 AM

"I remember reading, I think Penelope Leach about the shock of preschool, when many kids first encounter others who don't naturally agree that *they* should *of course* get to go first/have the biggest cookie/brightest toy."

I know someone who was very careful to overrule her son (an only) from time to time for this very reason. She knew that it was very easy for an only to get used to having his way, precisely for the reasons you cite: it's fun to make a kid happy; the adults might not have much preference about what to have for dinner or whatever; there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason not to let the kid have his way. So sometimes her son would say, "Hey, can I have a popsicle?" or whatever, and she'd tell him no, just to get him used to hearing it.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 27, 2007 9:55 AM

to the working mother at 9:48 am. I respectfully disagree. Forget her parent status -- it could have been her parent, her husband, herself who has suddenly gotten sick. We tend to focus too much on parents taking leave to take care of their children. I took leave 11 years ago to take care of my husband recovering from surgery. Should I have made arrangements for an outpatient nurse to come and take care of him? We could have afforded one. What's the point of having a spouse? What kind of contingencies one has to have to "plan" for illness? People get sick. Period. And they use sick leave

Posted by: another view from another working parent | February 27, 2007 9:58 AM

"Most only-children have a special relationship with their parents that has more intimacy and a more grown-up feel to it."

Not me -- one reason I had to move several states away!! It could be because I think of my parents marriage as a marriage of convenience at this point.

However, since I was raised so "independently", I'm 33 and single (could also be because of my parents relationship). And not sure I would want a man in my life let alone a child. All of my parents friends and most of their siblings (dad's one of 4 boys, mom's the middle of 4 girls and one boy) are grandparents, so that's hard. Though they'd never admit it to me.

To add to other comments -- I can never remember wanting a sibling. If my parents had another child, I can't imagine where they would have put him or her (I guess we would have shared a room if it was a girl). Moving wouldn't have happened for various reasons. I probably wouldn't have gotten the education I got (though I ended up paying all the loans off myself). We only went to Disney once, so it's not like vacations were an issue. I did (and still do) get along better with adults then people around my own age.

I have a couple of close friends that I would definitely call aunt and uncle if I ever had kids (I'm an "aunt" to my goddaughter, her sister, and my friends twins).

Posted by: Another only | February 27, 2007 10:01 AM

What a great topic and an for such a personal decision. I come from a huge family and at times it is overwhelming with all the personalities, noise, confusion and the fact nobody seems to be able to make a decision. But in the end I love it. My mom is the oldest of 5 daughters and she and her sisters plan all of their vacations and school breaks so they can be together playing cards, laughing and eating out. It is so great to see them and their close bond even now when they are becoming grandparents themselves. When both of my grandparents were sick over the holidays they all took turns coming and staying and discussing what would be best for everyone.

Now to me, I never really thought too hard about how many I wanted before I started having kids. When I had my third child I felt done but did not take permanent steps to be done with having kids. Thirteen months later I was pregnant again (on accident) and had a set of twins. So I went from 3 to 5 in the blink of an eye and had four kids under the age of four. I was a mess, but somehow survived the sleeplessness, the crying and three kids in diapers. But now I wasn't happy with the gender makeup of my family. I had one son and four daughters and for me that just didn't feel right. We waited for a while and then decidied to make the plunge--we could do five what was six right? Well, after my second set of girl twins I said enough! We have seven (yes seven) kids and they are truly great. Yes they are loud and noisey, but for the most part they get along playing and laughing and just being together. The logistics for a family of nine is not easy. We don't take huge fancy trips, but we camp, go to grandma's and go places we can drive to. We are a family that plays and stays together. I am trying so hard to instill in them that I want them to be friends and siblings. I know there is no guarentee but I am trying to hedge my bets.

We live in an area of the country much cheaper then the East Coast and we live on my husbands salary so I can be at home. We both have college degrees and the ability to support our family, but we make our financial decisions based on the fact we have such a huge family. We decided to live close to family so they would know their cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.

In eighteen months my oldest daughter will be going to college. She will go to an in state school and we will help her pay for her expenses. She has planned accordingly and made great educational and financial decisions so she can get scholarships etc. to help her out.

Is this what I planned? I don't know, but would I change it? No, not for a minute. So good luck, listen to your heart but know that whatever you decide you will manage to move forward every day.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | February 27, 2007 10:01 AM

Sometimes I worry that we are so overly focused on DD. I know I was the only mother who sent her child to preschool in a snow suit before it even snowed. In fact the school sent me a polite email asking me not to send her in a snow suit. Of course in retropsect it does seem ridiculous to provide a $60 snow suit when she is only out doors from bus to front door. And Christmas is another huge night mare. I actually even embarrassed myself when I looked at all the gifts that DD received on one day. But all that aside, it does seem like the money would be tight with two kids. We make adequate money that we could still afford quality day care, retirement, and college. But there would need to be choices made because we refuse to have cc debt. Maybe only two extra curricular activities at a time. I think a lot of the small extras would be completely cut out. Like we are taking DD to Go Diego Go Live show. Tickets for three were $140. Add on parking, lunch out (even at McD's) and balloon and a few trinkets of the day and we spent $200 bucks. I still think we could do days like that with two kids. But it would be like once or twice a year. We did the Disney cruise last year and I can't even imagine paying for two kids on a trip like that. You can do hand me downs but that will only save you so much $$. Besides doesn't younger child start to resent hand me downs?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:04 AM

I honestly don't see why we're fighting over who is better adjusted or what the future may hold. You're not raising your family in the future- you're raising them NOW.

Every person is different- some with siblings resent that there was no money or time for them and are very selfish and not at all sharing. Some siblings don't speak at all. Some siblings don't help with their parents as they age.

Some onlies are independent and giving. SOme are selfish.

It has nothing to do with being an only! As with a lot of things in parenting, some is luck of the draw, some are the circumstances in your life, some are parenting skills, some is just personality! We don't know anything for sure.

What I've seen firsthand in my life:

I've seen ALL of these combos!

I've seen 3 yr olds w/ siblings who are mean and worse at sharing BECAUSE they have a sibling and they don't want to share all day every day. I've seen kids with siblings who share because they have a sibling.

I've seen sweet giving onlies who share because they've never had to fight for time or toys before. I've seen onlies who are selfish because they haven't been told no before.

I've seen families in which the siblings don't speak at all. I've seen best friend siblings.

I've seen families in which only 1 sibling cares for aging parents. I've also seen it where they all pitch in.

I've seen onlies stay very close with their parents. I've seen onlies in contentious relationships with their families.

How can we even begin to presume what will happen in the future? Do what you can for your family NOW. I refuse to have another child just so there MAY be an extra set of hands as I age.
Maybe I'll regret it- but I doubt it. I think the trauma of not being able to feed more than 1 child would have more negative consequnces than if I didn't have 1 at all. I think the fact that I don't want another would be a lot worse.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 27, 2007 10:06 AM

Regarding only children wishing they had a sibling -- I think lots of children wish they had another sibling, even if they already have one! I have a great younger sister, but still always wished I had an older brother. I think most kids, regardless of their sibling situation, engage in this wishful thinking!

Posted by: yumdonuts | February 27, 2007 10:06 AM

"Why can't one "forge" their personality on folks other than siblings? What about classmates and other friends?

It is horrendously simplistic to assume that someone is close enough to their sibling to consciously model a life after them. And if it's unconsious then the source of the modeling is more than just the sibling, it's likely all observed behaviors.

So yeah, while it's a nice artsy quote, does it stand up to scrutiny??"

Too funny! I don't think that this quote has ANYTHING to do with modeling your life after someone - IMO it has more to do with beating the cr@p out of your siblings and having them beat the cr@p out of you in a way that you just can't do with friends or classmates and how that can help you to learn about yourself and life! I have never been in a physical altercation in my life - except with my sister. Who hasn't had some real knock-down fights with a sibling close in age? Who hasn't learned from it? We don't live with our classmates and friends - they don't annoy us as much. That's why I thought the anvil and forge metaphor was so very apt! That's just me . . . I'm sure that not everyone feels that a child must have the cr@p beaten out of them to learn about life - but sometimes it helps. : )

Posted by: Fairfax | February 27, 2007 10:07 AM

My wife has 2 sisters and a brother and seems fairly close to all of them- then again they are all fairly close in age and grew up in smaller towns. My brother is 8 years younger, and though we get along now when we actually get a chance to talk, we did not really grow up together- beyond the fact that I had to put up with him being a spoiled brat for a few years before I left the house my senior year of HS. This got me thinking how much I would actually like to spend some time with him now that he is a bit more grown up and we have more in common- but it is tough considering he is in Fl and I am up here.
Anyway, back on topic- I am lucky to have a flexible work environment that allows comp time if I stay late and need to leave early another day to take care of something during normal hours. I wish more employers were as understanding of the fact that the work will still be there. When I was in the Air Force, they always would go on about how important family was, and if my boss needed to take off for any reason, she would. However, if I ever had to take my wife to a medical apointment, I would get all sorts of flak. I think it all boils down to who your boss is and doesn't really matter where you work. I think it will take a cultural change enforced by leadership for people to understand that as long as you are doing quality work, what you do for your family should not be counted against you- and should in fact be supported because knowing your family is taken care of makes you a better employee.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 10:11 AM

Army Brat:

"First, we agreed from even before our marriage that it was never going to be "my money" and "your money"; it's all "our money". We operate from a joint budget. (I realize that not all families do, but it works for us.)"

Agree -- and we do likewise. As you stated, the only reason that we compared day care costs with my wife's income was because it was my wife who was in the position to leave employment [and for similar reasons to you it would not have worked for me to do so].

We certainly did a risk / reward calculation -- and a decade later it is clear to both of us that we made the right decision for us.

On a team, the expectation is that both members will give everything they have -- that doesn't necessarily mean each needs to do 50% of each task. [It does mean that both members of the team need to be comfortable with both their role and their partners role -- and value what each brings to the table -- something that historically was often not present.]


Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 10:11 AM

Great job, Foamgnome!

Here's a little memory bubble about my baby sister when she was 2 and I was 6:

I was playing ball with the girl from across the street in my backyard. She was wearing a cast on her wrist because she had fractured it by falling down roller skating. My baby sister was peddling her tricycle around the cement patio. Suddenly, I heard the noise of the tricycle going down the patio steps and my looked to see my baby sister going headfirst over the handle bars. Then I heard a sickening thud as her head Slammed into the corner of the cement step.

I ran over to her as fast as possible. She hadn't started to cry yet. When I looked at her, blood was gushing out of her head and down the last step.

I turned her upright as she was laying headfirst down the steps. then the blood ran down her face and I heard her first wail. Thank God she was alive.

I hauled her through the basement and up the steps screaming for my mother. When my mother saw my baby sister she immediately dialed 911 and sent me out to get help from one of the neighbors.

After my mom and baby sister left in the ambulance, I noticed a trail of blood that led from the kitchen where the phone was located to the accident site. Our black german sheperd, Sabaka, as if bound by duty and with her tail between her legs, humbly licked up all the drops of blood. By the time my dad got home from work all the evidence was gone.

I remind my sister of this incident ocasionally... Usually before I ask her a favor. Rarely, do I ever have to get to the dog part before she offers help.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 10:11 AM

As far as taking leave for my DD, I am totally entitled to take leave to take care of her under FMLA as well as my agencies rules on the use of sick leave. I don't think you can pay someone to take care of a child who is vomitting and having explosive poops. This was not a mere cold. The boss was totally in the wrong on this one.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:12 AM

To: "another view from another working parent"

There is a difference between caring for someone who gets suddenly severely sick (kid with cancer, husband with a heart attack, etc) or arranging to miss work for a family member's surgery, it's quite another to not prepare for the almost guaranteed sick child in winter. If you have a kid in daycare, they get sick and they cannot stay in the daycare situation as long as they are sick. So, a responsible parent will arrange for how to back-up the primary source of daycare. I've been there and planned for it. I don't have family in the area so it was important to make alternative arrangements. That's what parents do. No one can predict a family member getting hit by a car, etc so that is what sick days are for. We can't expect our employers and fellow employees to pick up the slack for another employee's kid's every sniffle or bout with diarrhea.

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 10:12 AM

SAHMbacktowork - your post is the first one that I've read that really makes sense, thank you! Everyone is different. Enough said.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 27, 2007 10:13 AM

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how people will tell you how many kids you *need* to have, as if the decision is up to them.

Three weeks after my husband and I got married, we attended the wedding of one of his cousins in upstate NY. EVERYBODY asked us if we had started a family yet. I told them we wanted to finish writing our thank you notes first.

That little joke didn't dissuade them - they immediately all told us we needed to start soon, because we just HAD to have three, if not four kids! (Something we still hear coming up on our 4th anniversary.)

I've started telling the really adamant people in the most sincere tone I can muster that *of course* I can count on them for financial support. Because if they feel *that* strongly about me having four children starting in my late 30's, well then I guess they were also planning to contribute to our health care costs (both for the kids and my diabetic self), child care costs and college funds. That has quieted every single one.

A bit snarky perhaps, but then again, I've always considered telling someone you barely know that their biological clock is ticking/they're not getting any younger.

Don't get me wrong - we are discussing having a child. ONE child. Our "trainer child" (i.e. our 19 month old Bulldog) is hard for us to handle some days, so we're pretty sure we're cut out to have only one child. Combined with my husband's frequent extended travel for work and my diabetes, I'm pretty sure that's all I could handle as well, both from a physical and emotional standpoint.

So if you only want one, have one. If you want three more, have three more. If you'd rather have the one child and a dozen pets, go ahead and do that. It's your family, your marriage, your life, and your reproductive system. Do what works for all of them in concert.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 27, 2007 10:15 AM

foamgnome-

You'll probably get ripped apart from your last post over not being able to see Go Diego Go LIve or a Disney crusie if you have 2 kids.

Everyone will say your priorities are out of whack, etc...

So I'm preempting that, ok?

Though I could care less about Disney vacations or attending those kinds of shows (we're more Smithsonian type of folks) I get your general premise. We're aching to go to Africa and Thailand and Antarctica and can do it MUCH sooner with only 1. Travel is very important to us.
We live in a much smaller house and forgo lots of other things so we can travel to amazing places.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 10:16 AM

My husband and I are only children. Neither of us wanted siblings. I remember getting creeped out by my cousins having sibling spats in my presence.

Having cousins to play with in the summer (my dad was military/government so we never lived close to the rest of the family) and school friends during the rest of the year was sufficient for me. Friends always loved coming to my house because I had more personal space, more toys, more attention, parents would get whatever food we wanted, etc. No other kids to compete with.

My daughter is also an only child. By choice. She likewise does not want any babies coming home. She loves playing with us, with her grandparents (talk about being the center of attention), with friends, and with her "cousins" (my cousins' kids). She also likes having a say in what we do, where we go, etc. She knows that kids with siblings don't always have that luxury if everyone doesn't agree.

As for taking care of elderly parents, I'm not sure it matters how many siblings there are. My mom is a twin and one of four kids. Her sister was the only one to take care of their parents on a regular basis. We lived far away so couldn't do much but the other 2 just couldn't be bothered. I think that is an irrelevant point, therefore. Either my daughter will take care of me or she won't. If I had 10 kids there wouldn't be any guarantee that any of them would want to take care of me. Just my opinion.

Posted by: An Only House | February 27, 2007 10:17 AM

Oops - that paragraph was supposed to read

A bit snarky perhaps, but then again, I've always considered telling someone you barely know that their biological clock is ticking/they're not getting any younger incredibly rude.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 27, 2007 10:19 AM

working mother: what are your other arrangements when your kid has a fever, diaherra, or vomitting? I don't know a day care in the area that would take a kid under those circumstances. I am not trying to be mean. I am really curious who you got or get to watch your kid under those circumstances. As far as being responsible, I am entitled to the leave. And people take off when they are personally sick or go to the doctor. So why should it be different if my child is sick?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:19 AM

"Only thing I will add (until I digest it all) is that having a second child helps the child later in life (assuming they get along somewhat as adults) when having to deal with aging parents (i.e. you and your husband)."

I think this is a really important consideration.

I know several people in my age group (40s-50s) who are having to deal with aging parents completely on their own. It's a huge and overwhelming task, especially if one or both of them are ill. Alzheimer's can figure in, too, making the whole situation emotionally draining.

And, while there's no guarantee that a sibling will be there to help, at least it's a possibility.

The siblings don't even have to get along in adulthood. My brother and I don't have anything to do with each other, but both of us are close to my dad, so he gets a lot of family time with each. Also, I know that, when things get difficult and Dad needs more care or decisions have to be made, my brother and I will be able to sit down and do what has to be done.

Of course, this isn't the the only point to consider when deciding on having a second child. But it is an important one.

Posted by: pittypat | February 27, 2007 10:20 AM

foamgnome-

You'll probably get ripped apart from your last post over not being able to see Go Diego Go LIve or a Disney crusie if you have 2 kids.

Everyone will say your priorities are out of whack, etc...

Hey, I don't care if people want to rip into me. Being a two income professional family it is just the reality. There is clearly enough money to provide the basics and then some. But the reality with one child you can go above and beyond. And is that really a bad thing? In some ways yes, and in some ways no. We are certainly not abstaining from having another child because we want to go on the Disney cruise. It is just a reality that with having one child you can do a lot more of the extras.

So I'm preempting that, ok?

Though I could care less about Disney vacations or attending those kinds of shows (we're more Smithsonian type of folks) I get your general premise. We're aching to go to Africa and Thailand and Antarctica and can do it MUCH sooner with only 1. Travel is very important to us.
We live in a much smaller house and forgo lots of other things so we can travel to amazing places.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:23 AM

If we have a second child of a different sex from the first, we'll have to move! I would absolutely put two kids of the same sex in the same bedroom, but if we have one boy and one girl, they'll need their own rooms. That's a pretty huge hurdle right there...

And how do you handle the discomfort and exhaustion of pregnancy while chasing around after other kids? The only way I've survived this so far is to spend all my non-working hours flat on the couch, sipping ice-cold gatorade. I don't think a two-year-old would be very sympathetic.

Posted by: WDC | February 27, 2007 10:23 AM

Foamgnome- just compile a list of babysitters in the area for those emergencies. I have a list of 5 people in a sick emergency, a list of 7-8 in a snow day/school day off emergency.

I just posted an ad and got a alot of responses from college students who don't have classes everyday. I also have found a retired nurse! What a coup! If she is severely sick I would take 1 day, of course. BUt the other days, they just need rest.

It takes a little while to actaully meet everyone and keep the list running, but I try to rotate who we use on date nights so we maintain a relationship with each person on the list.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 10:24 AM

Wow, Foamgnome, great column, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I don't have time to read through all these fabulous responses, but I wanted to respond quickly because this is something we've been thinking about (and having people ask us about) as well.

When I read your column, it really jumped out at me that you wrote about wanting to have another child "to give your child a sibling," which is exactly how I've been thinking about it. But reading someone else saying that made me realize how different that is from saying "I really want to have another child." I don't know if this is the same for you, but in my case, I think it does reflect a true difference - I don't particularly want to have another child myself, the only reason I would do it is because I think having a sibling can be so valuable. But I'm not sure that would a good reason for me to do it. And in my case, my husband has no interest in having another, so the scales are pretty well tipped to having only one. But it was really good for me to read your column as it made me see my own thoughts differently.

Thanks again!

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 10:24 AM

Foamgnome,
I made arrangements with a friends babysitter to watch my child if he or she became sick. When I had a situation where my daycare situation suddenly did not work out, I flew my sister-in-law from out of town to stay with us to help out. You know as well as anyone that kids in daycare become sick every winter. It is predictable. And it is the predictable things like that that should have back-up plans. I work in a field where I cannot take time off or it severely impacts my colleagues and supervisors so perhaps you do not feel the same sense of duty to your job.

I have been in a leadership role and it was frustrating how some parents could not make appropriate plans for inevitable happenings. One mother had a daycare situation that did not cover her hours and expected that we would "suck it up" (her words). It caused a lot of dissention amongst the staff (she was a bad employee in a lot of other ways and was eventually fired by someone else after I left that position). In another situation, a really prized employee had a terrible medical mishap during her pregnancy and I moved heaven and earth to accomodate her. She could not have predicted the medical emergency. Plus despite being a mother, she was highly responsible and conscientious. I'm sorry, but sick children in winter in daycare is predictable. There is a difference.

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 10:28 AM

Foamgnome- just compile a list of babysitters in the area for those emergencies. I have a list of 5 people in a sick emergency, a list of 7-8 in a snow day/school day off emergency.

I just posted an ad and got a alot of responses from college students who don't have classes everyday. I also have found a retired nurse! What a coup! If she is severely sick I would take 1 day, of course. BUt the other days, they just need rest.

That is actually excellent advice. I have never heard of anyone doing that who works in Fed service. Most Fed workers take the leave allotted them and switch times with spouses. I guess this was such an issue because I followed agencies guidelines and he really had no legitamite reason to say anything about it. It is really none of his business if I take leave that I am entitled to. And in fact, he is the only person in the 10 years of working for the Feds that I have had a problem with. But your advice is something to consider.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:28 AM

I work in a field where I cannot take time off or it severely impacts my colleagues and supervisors so perhaps you do not feel the same sense of duty to your job.

OK, here is a big difference. As a research statistician who only has deadline in the years, this is not an issue. No one jumps in and does my job when I am not here and there are not any pressing deadlines. Also it sounds as if you do not work for the federal government. If you did, you would be entitled to take leave to care for your family. So my initial question is that you assume because kids do get sick in the winter, or any time of the year for that matter, that I should have a back up plan. But people can purposely schedule doctors appointments during work time and that is OK?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:32 AM

Thank you for your post. I actually can't have any more children but am fine with just one! Close friends can be as good as siblings. When I was in the intensive care this fall following the birth of our son, my husband didn't turn to his sibling for support (who lived 1/2 a mile away at the time), he turned to his best friend. While I love my sister dearly, I have several friends whom I am just as close to.

Posted by: Mindypoo | February 27, 2007 10:36 AM

"No one can predict a family member getting hit by a car, etc so that is what sick days are for."

Gee, silly me, I thought they were for, you know, being SICK.

Seriously, lay off foamgnome here. Yes, you make alternate plans the best you can, you find coverage the best you can, but nothing is foolproof. My husband and I generally split sick days based on who has more time, and sometimes my mom or brother help out. But today DH is getting on an airplane, my mom's in Frederick, and my brother doesn't have access to a car (in the shop). If one of my kids gets sick, it's all on me. So suddenly I'm a bad employee, because my THREE "backup plans" all fell through? Good Lord.

If you think sick days should be reserved for car accidents and major surgery, fine -- go convince the feds to change their policies. But until they do, lay off the rest of us who occasionally do have to use sick leave for "minor" problems like explod-a-poos and 102 fevers.

Posted by: Laura | February 27, 2007 10:39 AM

"Close friends can be as good as siblings"

And many times , better.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 10:39 AM

Foamgnome,
Thanks for your story. This is a topic that is dear and near to me. For the longest time, I was convinced that I wanted only one child, especially when my son was a baby. He was colicky for the first three months, nursed all night long into the first year, and was an incredibly active two year old. It took all my energy to keep up with him and I doubted that I could do it with more than one child. But as he grew older, my yearning for another child increased. And now that he is seven, I think I could do it again. He is an easygoing and independent child now, and is such a joy to be around that I just want to do it again, even if it means colic and sleepness nights for another year. But at my age, it is proving more difficult that I expected. So I think at this point, I have come to the conclusion that if it happens great, but if not, one child is just fine. In fact, it is perfect in its own way. And the other point I wanted to make is that we cannot always plan how these things work out. Sometimes, life has a way of making it's own decisions, and we just have to go along with some things.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 10:42 AM

"working mother"

I've said it before - and I'll say it again (with out being deleted, nyah nyah!) She is a B!TCH!

Posted by: snarky anon | February 27, 2007 10:44 AM

If foamgnome has leave that she is ENTITLED to use to care for a sick child, has no deadlines that will fall on someone else, and is in compliance with her agencies' rules and guidelines, why should she have an alternate, alternate plan for when her husband is away? It sounds like she was well within her rights as an employee to do exactly what she did, and it had no impact on any of her colleagues.

The only reason I can see to have a huge array of backups is if there is some reason you CANNOT take time off - if it violates policy or you don't have the leave or you can't time off easily on short notice, none of which are true here. There's nothing objectively wrong with using leave that you have earned.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 10:45 AM

Money is not everything. You do realize that kids can get scholarships, jobs or not go to college. What good are you if you are physically and mentally worn down? Is the money really worth that much to you that you would sacrifice your family?

Posted by: Joe D. | February 27, 2007 10:45 AM

Ah, one of my personal angst-filled topics. I am firmly in the camp that everyone should do what works for them - there is certainly nothing "wrong" w/ having only one child - I am so glad no one has ever implied as much to me! (and sorry for everyone who has had to deal w/ it politely) Fairfax is right that you simply cannot project what the future situation will be just because of someone's sibling status.
For me personally, I most definitely wish I would have had a second child when my son was young - at the time, it would have been a ludicrous idea, but I think it would have made my life much richer now. Now, my son is 10 and I am nowhere near being married ... it's not looking too promising that any additional children would be for his benefit at this point :) And I can look at that fact and realize that it plays into my decision, which is why I find the comments very interesting, regarding having more kids for yourself as opposed to having them for your existing children. I would like my son to have a sibling, and feel it's too late.
I do agree with the posters who've said cousins should be taken into account, as well as tight-knit communities. I think it's the opportunity to have long-term relationships that's important, more so than the fact that the people in the relationship are actually blood relations.

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 27, 2007 10:45 AM

Very intersting post, with an excellent description of the factors involved in making such a decision. Personally, my parents were so abusive, my sister and I rarely got along. It made me decide to not have any children. We love the neighborhood children, and sometimes wish we had our own, but I wouldn't trust myself to know how to be a good mother. So I figure I am doing my bit for the environment by not having children.

I agree with some of the posters who said you can't count on two siblings getting along or helping with end-of-life care. Also, you never know if one will have a disability, which can be a real time and money pit as well as place a lot of stress on the marriage.

Regarding location - we live in close-in Arlington. Very small houses, nearly everyone has children. The lots may be smaller, but the "Mayberry" neighborhood feel plus the shorter commute makes it feel like the best choice. Hope you are able to move or get another job, even if you do decide to stop at one child.

Posted by: Outspoken | February 27, 2007 10:46 AM

And I'm with Joe D on the money thing - don't care about money and it doesn't factor into whether or not I would have more kids - if I can "afford" one, I can afford ten, even though that is irresponsible blasphemy in the DC area :)
I simply cannot bring myself to embrace the idea that the "quality" of a child's life is really determined by the material things their parents provide.

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 27, 2007 10:50 AM

I encourage anyone thinking about having more than one child to read Bill McKibben's "Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families." I really believe that the only environmentally responsible for thing for people to do is to have at most one child. Consider adoption if you believe your child cannot be truly fulfilled without a sibling.
You can buy as many hybrid vehicles and fluorescent lightbulbs as you want, but the most environmentally significant decision any of us can make is to forego adding to the crushing burden of human overpopulation that is killing our planet.

Posted by: Greenie | February 27, 2007 10:50 AM

OK, I am need to make this clearer. We can afford to have two children. We are NOT choosing to have one because of money alone. But the reality is that having one child the money is easier. It is just a fact. The main reason we would choose to have one is TIME, our age, the distance between our children, and the logistics of managing two kids. We are NOT abstaining from having another kid to go on the Disney cruise. That would be absurd. It is just a nice little additive of having one kid is that you can provide a LOT of extras. Some would argue too many extras and they may be right.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 10:50 AM

You don't have to decide now. Clearly this is not the right time. You should not have to worry about your employer holding it against you that your child is sick!

Perhaps a new job will give you a different outlook without as many worries, however let me point out that if you have one child they get sick and then they get better. If you have 2 or 3 it tends to run the family and you are out of work for a longer period of time. It takes an understanding and supportive employer to navigate these kinds of issues.

We had 3 children and 2 of them have graduated from college. The other will not because of developmental disabilities. It was all paid for - somehow that piece works itself out.

I worked part-time and that seemed best with our family dynamics.

I have friends who have only one child and it has been wonderful for them. I am a firm believer that it is what you make of it.

Posted by: OLDER MOM | February 27, 2007 10:51 AM

I was an only child and I never spent any time as a child wishing I had a brother or sister, probably because I was given lots of attention by my extended family. I also went on to become the first person in my family to go to college and build the kind of life many people would want. I do not know why people feel an obligation to have more than one. You are really rolling the dice if you think they are going to be instant playmates and love each other unconditionally. I have seen an awful lot of dysfunction between siblings over the years.

Posted by: annapolismom | February 27, 2007 10:52 AM

I have one son who is now a sophmore in college. I had originally wanted more children, but because I had to work and my marriage was on the rocks, I ultimately decided to stop with just one. My son is well adjusted, bright and has lots of friends. Being an only child is not some sort of curse. You don't have to give your child a sibling.

Posted by: melt | February 27, 2007 10:53 AM

"I would like my son to have a sibling, and feel it's too late."

My brother and I (only sibs) are ten years apart, and I know several people (husband included) who have siblings further apart than that. Your son's age isn't necessarily an impediment to having another child, if that's what you ultimately want to do.

As to friends, cousins, and tight-knit communities, I think they're great for support. However, it will be siblings that share actual responsibility. They're the ones who will (if anyone will) share the caretaking (even if it's just long-distance phone calls to the parents every few days), the decision-making, and the financial management.

I don't think you can expect friends or cousins to feel that kind of obligation.

Posted by: pittypat | February 27, 2007 10:54 AM

I knew many kids who didn't have siblings. I remember two of them calling me up (different years) on Christmas and Easter and I was just like, no, I'm not coming over to play with your games, I'm with my family. I probably would have been a happy parent of one child, but when I see my sons play with each other it's so intensely different than when they play with other kids it's just amazing to watch. I worked with a guy who spent a lifetime trying to have a second kid, but after cancer his wife couldn't conceive again. You go with what you got and that's it.

Posted by: Bethesdan | February 27, 2007 10:55 AM

"The main reason we would choose to have one is TIME, our age, the distance between our children, and the logistics of managing two kids."

FWIW -- the first couple of years are fairly hard to manage. After that, it is amazing how much easier it is when there are more kids -- it's the playdate syndrome -- when there is another kid to play with them you don't need to be their primary entertainment.

With three, the most difficult times we have are when two of them are gone [at friends, etc] -- the remaining one has a much more difficult time 'trying to find something to do'.

Your mileage may vary...

Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 10:56 AM

Foamgnome,
I apologize--it must be nice to have such flexibility (I mean this seriously, not facetiously).

If taking off a day or two does not impact on the performace of your job and you are entitled to the time off then you should be able to take the time unhassled. But as a former supervisor, I do wonder if there is more. When I had employees who were responsible (all parents), call in sick, I would never give it a second thought nor would I think to say anything. It might have sucked that I had to fill in, but I did it gladly. It was those employees who took advantage and called out for every little sniffle. In my field, it is a huge thing. So I apologize if I made you defensive.

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 10:56 AM

In response to "To pegwc".

My mother became an only child when she was 4 and her brother died at age 6. They had no other children. She was determined to have more than one - so there are two of us (brother and sister)

My cousin is an only child and married an only child and her 2 children have encountered many problems with their lack of understanding.

I have another second cousin who is an only child and she has a lack of understanding of the relationship that my brother and I have.

There are other non-family instances.

These are the bases of my comments.

And as you and others point out - every situation is different. And other children of only children may have different/better experiences.

I just wanted to raise a perspective that might not be obvious.

Posted by: pegwc | February 27, 2007 11:00 AM

"But as a former supervisor, I do wonder if there is more."

Right. God forbid you actually just believe her statements and move on. Much better to continually second guess and impugn her motives.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:00 AM

working mother: There is more to the story but it isn't about me. They decided to not fund the survey that I worked on, so they transferred our staff to different areas. So I don't think this boss was too happy to have forced employees thrown at him. He also envisioned this position different then what upper management wanted to provide for him. I heard he was in the process of hiring several people, when the hire ups said too bad, you need to take these people. So his attitude was rough from the get go. I really truly believe it was never about me. But I can't help being transferred any more then he can help having some people thrown on him. It doesn't help that he is completely devoted to his work and is single and childless. I am not sure he has any life outside of work. But he decided to focus on that instead of hey, I understand you guys did not want to be here and frankly we were in the process of hiring other people. Let's try to make this work out for both of us.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:00 AM

I think I need to clarify what I was trying to say.

"We certainly did a risk / reward calculation -- and a decade later it is clear to both of us that we made the right decision for us.

On a team, the expectation is that both members will give everything they have -- that doesn't necessarily mean each needs to do 50% of each task. [It does mean that both members of the team need to be comfortable with both their role and their partners role -- and value what each brings to the table -- something that historically was often not present.]"

My husband and I don't split finances 50/50. We, too, did a risk/reward calculation. On a librarian's salary, my lower income does put me in the better position to be away from employment. My husband is in a demanding (and not particularly stable) industry and far enough along in his career that it would not be practical for him to change completely now. That's not to say that he hasn't retooled and refocused to meet the changing demands of that industry. Because of his high demands at work and the fact that our children are so young (3 and 6), we agree that for now the best thing for our family is for me to be at home.

What I was trying to point out (and this is where the risk part of the risk/reward calculation comes in) is that sometimes people make comments about the cost of daycare vs. SAH person's salary that don't go into the background of the decision-making. From what I've read, more often than not, the long-term costs and potential costs to staying at home are not discussed.

I have to say, living in the NYC area during September 11 and it's aftermath made my husband and me less risk tolerant. I would not feel comfortable being in a position where I could not get back to earning salary and benefits in a reasonable amount of time if my husband were to become disabled or die (I'm sorry to be so morbid here). We have adequate savings and life insurance to carry us for some time, but many years of raising the children and college ahead for which I would need to help provide. I put a high value on being employable and having access to benefits and don't feel that comfortable with having one partner with access to health benefits.

Believe me, I am so grateful to have had the option to stay at home. However, I do feel more comfortable being prepared to step up to the plate quickly to provide for my family financially should I have to in a time of crisis. Maybe if health benefits weren't tied so strongly to employment I would feel differently. My perception though has been that the costs beyond salary of a woman leaving employment are rarely directly addressed.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | February 27, 2007 11:03 AM

With respect to sick leave, when I moved from the federal government to a large defense contractor I was amazed at the difference in management of sick leave.

Foamgnome's use of sick leave is precisely in accordance with policy and as a federal manager it wouldn't have even come to my attention. In the private industry [even one in which about 75% of my employees were former federal employees] it was a routine activity every quarter to get a sick leave report and question managers of employees who were in the to 10% of sick leave usage. If there was one long illness or reason, that was great from a management point-of-view [and usually noted in the file] -- but lots of single days of absence typically raised a red flag and often had an impact on annual reviews [even if the leave was allowable]. Each culture defines their own norms.

Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 11:03 AM

I had so much love in my heart for my daughter that it overflowed and I needed another child so there would be a place for all the love to land.

Posted by: anon this time | February 27, 2007 11:04 AM

I can certainly relate to exactly what you are talking about. We were still relative babies when we atarted our careers, our marriage and our family. I guess we always knew that we wanted more than one, but we didn't have a set family size. We planned the first two, a girl followed two years later by a son. Getting to number two was an unbelievable feat in every way. You are right about the cost of daycare. We had a couple of years where we juggled a variety of childcare options so that we could both continue to develop our careers and financially survive. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't always possible to give up the second income. Our third was a pleasant surprise and is only 12 months younger than her brother. Our fourth is just about 3 years younger than our middle daughter. With the whole crew only 6 years apart, they now age 17, 14 1/2, 13 1/2 and nearly 11. Not surprisingly life with 4 active children is complicated and sometimes my husband and I connect via cellphone. However, I will tell you that we cannot imagine that our life could be any different. There is something special that goes on at the dinner table or when they all pile into our bed to watch a little late night TV. It is a diffent dynamic becasue they interact with each other as well as you (they fight with each other, but support each other too). I wouldn't recommend having another to fulfill the needs of providing a sibling for your first, but it adds another dimension to family that is definitely an experience.

As far as the jerk for a boss goes, they do still exist. It is almost as if there is still an expectation that once your role as mother is apparent, that you are supposed to choose between family or career. I encourage you to find a job that does not diminish your need to take care of your child. Don't feel as though you have to choose. You just have to learn to juggle - it is a new skill and takes time. Never be afraid to decide that the child or the husbnad comes first. Another job you can always find - you can't replace your family or put them on wait a minute. I will also tell you that years from now you will be amazed at how you got through the tough stuff and then you will have new challenges to wade through.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:06 AM

"Who hasn't had some real knock-down fights with a sibling close in age?"

I haven't and none of my friends have.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:09 AM

So now it sounds like she does not like her job and is using this episode as the reason why. If you don't like it, just leave, quit with the drama...

Posted by: Joe D. | February 27, 2007 11:10 AM

This is going to come across as snarky - but I don't mean it to be. For those on this board that were only children and never wished to have a sibling, do you even know what you were missing? How could you? I can't imagine what it would be like to be an only child because I never was one.

Also, I find it fascinating that many are posting stories of sibling rivalry, "not getting along for decades", etc., but life is fluid. My grandfather didn't talk to his brother for over 20 years because of a misunderstanding, but when they were both older and retired they became the best of friends. It was great comfort to know they became reacquainted.

I am not saying everyone has miracle happy endings, but it can and does happen. Regardless of the current state of your relationship with your sibling(s) - things will/can change over time. It is called life.

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 11:10 AM

"I have to say, living in the NYC area during September 11 and it's aftermath made my husband and me less risk tolerant. I would not feel comfortable being in a position where I could not get back to earning salary and benefits in a reasonable amount of time if my husband were to become disabled or die (I'm sorry to be so morbid here)."

I understand completely -- and you are entirely correct, analyzing the short and long-term risks is essential. When my wife left the workforce we significantly increased my life insurance and took out a policy on her as well. In addition, we took out supplemental long-term disability policies for exactly the reasons you have indicated.

The flip side on reward is that my salary increased at a rate much higher than it would have if we had both been employed. As a result, we have been able to put aside a good cushion to mitigate some of those risks.

My initial point is that most people don't fully understand the near-term tax implications -- our federal tax code is really well-structured for single income families [though we are making some headway to better address two-income families] -- and the immediate income less is seldom as high as one believes as a result of this.

Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 11:12 AM

workingmother wrote

>I work in a field where I cannot take time off or >it severely impacts my colleagues and supervisors >so perhaps you do not feel the same sense of duty >to your job.

Like foamgnome suggested, I think this aspect of your own work situation is coloring the way you look at this. Many of us can easily shift much of our work to home, or late evening, alone, without adversely impacting *any* work colleagues. We then *are* the reasonable backup plan for kid-emergencies. Between 2 parents, we arrange to cover our contact commitments to colleagues, while still freeing one parent as back-up care provider. It's hardly a measure of our feelings of "duty" to our work. Our work can time- and place-shift easily; our sick kids (or when our kids were younger, our kids with absent regular sitter, due to her own illness or emergency) cannot.

Since we had a shared sitter caring for our kids whether they were sick or not, when they were small, this wasn't too frequent an issue. Now that our kids are school-age, kid-illness requiring a parental care backup is a little more frequent. But honestly, the minor dislocation to our work --- in the time, place, and company of a resting kid in the background --- is trivial compared to the major dislocation you suggest, of cultivating strangers to fill in and care for a sick child (we have enough time-in-care as is with our regular school/aftercare setups; why should we generate more, just to have another occasional caregiver active, just so we can put in face time working on our office computers alone during the day instead of either later, at home, or with child in background, on those 2-4 times per year a kid is sick? ) Seems like a gratuitous amount of family disruption, just to spare the office desk-chair a few empty hours. Plus, especially with younger kids (foamgnome's is 2-3yo), kids don't *want* a near-stranger caregiver when sick, they want a loved one, which is likely parents or their regular caregiver. It's unreasonable to override their need for a familiar caregiver when they feel crappy to avoid the most superficial dislocation to the workplace.

Perhaps, in a job as immediately must-be-present-at-all-times-or-colleagues'-
progress-will-stop as yours, daycare itself is not a reasonable option, but instead a sitter who will watch your child sick or not. But in a job like foamgnome's which explicitly allocates sick leave for care of dependent family members, day care with parental backup may be a perfectly reasonable norm, and arranging a second backup layer a totally disproportionate imposition.

Perhaps it's your workplace that's not planning for the predictable, because it's just as predictable that you or your colleagues will get sick during the winter, too . . . work should be able to go on without an air of crisis . . .

Posted by: KB | February 27, 2007 11:13 AM

"There is no guarantee that the sibling(s) will help out. Many don't and cheerfully dump all the responsibility in someone else's lap."

Some others wish they could help but can't. :(

For example, what if one of your sons or daghters turns out to be a brilliant biologist but you'd rather stay near your other son or daughter than move close to anyone hiring biologists?

For another example, what if one of your sons or daughters gives you so many grandchildren that he or she has barely enough money, time, and energy to care for them let alone any left over to care for you?

"It's hard to think of a more intensely personal decision than family size. Whatever you choose, you and your husband both need to be at peace with your decision."

...and don't do it to make everyone happy, because you can't! No matter how many kids you have, someone will complain. If a couple has 0, some people call them anti-family. If a couple has 1, some people say they're depriving their child. If a couple has 2, some people dismiss those children as mere tokens. If a couple has 3+, some people accuse them of overpopulation.

"I'm one of those people who is constantly amazed when siblings don't get along as adults...We are friends, not just siblings."

You were lucky. :) Not every personality gets along well with every other personality. Weren't there some people at your school who you just didn't want to be friends with - not necessarily bad people, but at least incompatible people? Now think about what happens when two people who happen to have with incompatible personalities also happen to be born in the same family...

"So, I think you need to take responsibility for the decision to have additional children. In additional, siblings are not playthings for your first child."

Exactly. If you find out that you were put on Earth to be your big brother's or sister's buddy, and you two don't happen to like each other much, imagine what a failure you could feel like...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:13 AM

"I had so much love in my heart for my daughter that it overflowed and I needed another child so there would be a place for all the love to land.

Posted by: anon this time | February 27, 2007 11:04 AM"

Didn't anyone else feel the flip side of this - when I was pregnant with my second I kept wondering - how am I going to love this one as much as the first? Personally I would have loved to have had the attitude of anon this time, it would have saved me a lot of needless worry.

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 11:13 AM

I love being an only child! I'm 29.

No, I guess I don't "even know what [I was] missing," but then again, I love living in D.C. and the other cities I've lived in, and don't know what I've been missing not living in, say, San Francisco, or Portland, or Tokyo, or wherever. I happen to like the situation I ended up in. Lucky me!

Posted by: Lilybeth | February 27, 2007 11:14 AM

"I had so much love in my heart for my daughter that it overflowed and I needed another child so there would be a place for all the love to land."

What a beautiful reason to have another child. That's kind of how I felt about having our child - it was a natural extension of my husband's and my love for each other.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 11:17 AM

Everyone has their own story about how great or awful it was to be an only child. People also have their stories about how great or awful it was to have siblings. My father had one sister. They never liked each other or were helpful or supportive to each other, and my grandparents spent a lifetime in angst over the fact that their two children wanted nothing to do with each other. I have 3 siblings, all younger than me. I am glad to have them around, and enjoy their company immensely. But I was an only child for the first 10 years of my life, and remember the peace in the household before the boys were born. After they were born, I learned to adjust to chaos. It was hard at first.

I guess my point is that there are no guarantees in anything. It is a complete crap shoot.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 11:20 AM

Is there any educational value to the Disney vacations?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:20 AM

Is there any educational value to the Disney vacations?

I am not sure if this is snarky or just a real question. But yes for school aged children there is a learning/science lab. We choose the cruise because it is family friendly and had something for everyone. Also the dining room behavior level was moderate to low. So we did not feel out of place with a squirmy toddler at a two hour meal. We just did it for fun. Not to educate our two year old.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:22 AM

The list of back-up babysitters is nice in theory, but I wouldn't be comfortable with leaving my children with a student found in an ad. Are there that many babysitters anxious to take care of a child with diarrhea? Maybe for enough extra pay. . . A young child is vulnerable to dehydration and things can deteriorate rapidly.

Also, maybe it was just bad luck that her daughter got sick AND her husband was out of town. Do we even know that travel is a regular thing for him?

I don't think foamgnome was being defensive, but I do think that was an attack (or maybe more accurately, snark) on the part of working mom.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | February 27, 2007 11:22 AM

"If we have a second child of a different sex from the first, we'll have to move! I would absolutely put two kids of the same sex in the same bedroom, but if we have one boy and one girl, they'll need their own rooms. That's a pretty huge hurdle right there..."

OTOH, if you adopt then you can make sure your 2nd child is the same sex as your 1st.

"Money is not everything. You do realize that kids can get scholarships, jobs or not go to college."

Maybe it's a class thing. How many middle-class parents want to plan to have sons and daughters who spend years after high school working in lower-class jobs and squeezing a class here and a class there into their little spare evening and weekend time until they have enough to earn some sort of certificate or degree? How many middle-class parents would rather plan to have sons and daughters who spend most of their working years in middle-class jobs?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:23 AM

"Didn't anyone else feel the flip side of this - when I was pregnant with my second I kept wondering - how am I going to love this one as much as the first? Personally I would have loved to have had the attitude of anon this time, it would have saved me a lot of needless worry."

I actually do worry about that a little. But then, I figure, I fell in love with the first one, and he made me sweat during the first couple of years, so surely, I can do it again. I also remember how I loved my dog back in my younger days, and could not imagine loving anyone as much as I loved her. It is my theory that the more you love you give, the more you have to give. It magically grows as you give it away. It never runs out.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 11:25 AM

DH travels about 3 or 4 times a year for about 3-4 days each time. So we do arrange for an extra sitter for morning care. We did always hedge our bets that she did not get really sick and whammy we get sick. For our preschooler, a college student is not a reasonable choice. DD will not be comfortable staying with a stranger. But as an elementary school student, I could see this would work if the baby sitter also was our date night sitter. Unfortunately our date night sitter is in HS and also has school obligations. But I do like the idea for grades 1-6.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:25 AM

"I would like my son to have a sibling, and feel it's too late."

My closest sibling is 12 years older than me. My oldest nepwhew is 11 years younger than me. We are all close. I think it just depends on the type of family you have and how you were raised.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 11:26 AM

cmac, I'm right with you on that one. I "knew" it would happen, because everyone told me it would, but I just didn't believe I could possibly feel that intensely about another human being. And then I worried just as much about what would happen if I DID feel that way -- the intensity I felt for my daughter was itself overwhelming, so could I even handle that amount times two?

Luckily, I love my son just as much as my daughter, but differently. I love my daughter fiercely and protectively; she has challenged me in so many ways, and by her very existence forced me to learn and grow in ways that I never imagined. I love my son gently and warmly; he's such a sweet, gentle snugglebunny, and it makes me happy and proud to see his little personality develop. So it is immensely more, and yet never too much.

Posted by: Laura | February 27, 2007 11:26 AM

This is such a good topic (thanks foamgnome) and something I am currently struggling with. We are thinking of having another one (DS is 2.5) in the next year and my DH is all for it. I am sitting on the fence. I have difficult pregnancies and am not sure I want to do that again (this will be my third pregnancy). I thought I would be a much better mother than I think I am. Sometimes I am so exhausted and the responsibilities I place on myself can be overwhelming. Perhaps I need to get a handle on this aspect first - no, my house does not need to be perfectly clean, etc. How can I squeeze all the extra time needed in or do I relax in some other areas?

I want to have another baby for the simple reason of wanting to have a baby. When I think that I should give a sibling to my DS, it sounds like I am contemplating a pet or something. It just doesn't seem fair to the new one.
I guess it would be nice if I just new one way or the other without all the second guessing...

Posted by: s | February 27, 2007 11:27 AM

I don't worry about loving another child. As I am number 3 in my own family, I certainly hope my parents loved me as much as my older brothers. I have to admit on a morbid point, I do worry if DD should ever perish then we would be childless. But my own father, who is an only child, said no child replaces the other one. And if I lost any of you three, I would have been devastated. But it still sort of is in the back of my mind. My brother also reminds me that people loose both or all their children in car crashes, fires etc...

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:28 AM

I am an only child and determined to have more than one kid when i get married. Being an only child was good, I had a lot of advantages I wouldn't be able to have if my parents had to foot the bill for two of us, but someone mentioned earlier the toll aging parents take on an only child. My parents are both only children and i see the struggles they face caring for their aging parents. This is something that weighs heavily on my mind, and a "solution" of sorts seems to be to have more than one child.

Posted by: Daddy's Girl | February 27, 2007 11:30 AM

"For those on this board that were only children and never wished to have a sibling, do you even know what you were missing?"

Okay, let's play devil's advocate here for a minute, do you know what you were missing by not being an only child? (Seriously, not sarcastic here and not meaning it to come off as such, if it does.)

Perhaps, it isn't an issue of "missing" (either way) but rather just a different experience. People are either happy with their lot in life or they're not, and that doesn't necessarily have a whole lot to do with how many kids their parents had. (I suppose Lilybeth put it better, but I figured I would put in my two cents.)

Posted by: to cmac from a de-lurker | February 27, 2007 11:31 AM

Brother and sister in the same bedroom? what is wrong with that? I had the same bedroom with my sister when I was 11.
Quit making excuses...

Posted by: Joe D. | February 27, 2007 11:32 AM

Any educational value to a Disney Vacation? Yes! My son has Asperger's (on the Autism Spectrum). He has very little interest in rides yet we are about to embark on a 5 day Disneyworld vacation that is tailored to his interests. Epcot Center is a great educational adventure. It has all sorts of attractions (and very mild rides for the weak of heart) that center around energy conservation, alternative food growth, science and technology as well as marine life. It also has a world showcase that will allow my "geography obsessed" 9 year old to explore the culture and food of several countries in a one-stop setting. MGM studios also has several "behind the scenes" and "how do they do that" attractions that will thrill the movie maker in him.

Disney is so much more than the mouse and rides if you know where to look. You can find many different educational purposes to the trip. It all depends on the child you take as well as the age at which you take them.

Posted by: Circle Pines | February 27, 2007 11:34 AM

Brother and sister in the same bedroom? what is wrong with that? I had the same bedroom with my sister when I was 11.
Quit making excuses...

I think there are laws.........

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:34 AM

I'm the one who suggested the list of babysitters.

I am not this "woking mom" person and I don't think I was snarky at all!

We've actually found a few that would have no problems at all caring for a sick child.We have a retired nurse, a nursing student, and a biology major undergrad (hopeful pediatrician) on our list! We also found one whose mother had an in home daycare and has tons of experience with sick kids. They are also 21 and over.

We have running relationships with our entire list. As I mentioned- we rotate using them for our date nights so our dd knows them all and so we get to know them.

I checked references for all of them. It just takes some time to weed through the candidates. It took a month to interview/call, etc and now we have a great system since we have no family in the area.

I resent the implication that I just pointed my finger and blindly picked someone to watch my child!

If my child were so sick that a hospital visit were possible, of course I would stay home! But a run of the mill fever and some diarhhea (not severe) is no biggie and happens all the time. Same with an ear infection or pink eye.
I work 5 minutes from home- I would have no problem running home if things got bad.

BTW- is your dd 2 yrs old foamgnome? My dd refused to stay w/ anyone until she turned about 2 3/4. I would never have dreamed of doing this list until she was ready. But, I was a SAHM until she was 2 3/4 so I lucked out on that end!

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 27, 2007 11:35 AM

Friends are God's apology for our families! There's one for every sentiment possible.!

foamgnome - Re: dh only thinking about dd. I think that is natural given the dd is tangible and future child is theoretical. My ds was so perfect and fabulous that I truly didn't believe that I could love another as much as him and some of the reason we had another was for him. I was actually disappointed initially when I found out it was a girl because I wanted a brother for ds. After she was born I realized my folly and the size of my heart and wouldn't change a thing. So I think that would happen to you too.

Another question is how much of the responsibility falls to you. I know that your dd has some developmental issues that I'm assuming require some level of extra attention and effort on your part. What will another baby do to your workload at home? Will dh pick up the slack with dd - what are you both capable of giving? I also agree re: the Diego extras, that's somethign that you enjoy and value as a family others don't - different strokes. I'd say hire a sitter, go to a quiet place with dh and talk, uninterrupted from the heart, make a list of pros and cons. Whatever you decide it will be enough because you both love her.

I used to be annoyed that my parents didn't give me the sister I always wanted (just a lousy older brother haha) until I had kids of my own. I learned how hard the job is and don't hold a thing in the world against her. Sometimes the hard thing is that it takes kids decades to get the perspective needed to see clearly. You've got to do what's true to you. Really good luck to you!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 27, 2007 11:35 AM

Anonymous at 11:13 AM really hit the nail on the head when s/he wrote: "...and don't do it to make everyone happy, because you can't! No matter how many kids you have, someone will complain. If a couple has 0, some people call them anti-family. If a couple has 1, some people say they're depriving their child. If a couple has 2, some people dismiss those children as mere tokens. If a couple has 3+, some people accuse them of overpopulation."

It's true, some people just LIKE to be snarky for the sake of being snarky. Foamgnome, you did a fabulous job on today's guest blog. With only a couple of notable exceptions, you've also evoked a lot of thoughtful, on-point comments (perhaps the highest rate of sticking to the topic that I've seen, which is no mean achievement!). And as you yourself wrote, "There are no easy answers."

Whatever you decide, the best of luck to you, DH and DD.

Posted by: catlady | February 27, 2007 11:35 AM

Another Librarianmom

Have you considered being a Fed Librarian? The pay and benefits are pretty decent.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:36 AM

I think that if anyone sits down and rationally plans out the costs of having children....they would run screaming down the street. Fortunately, no one does and they are rewarded in many ways that the "rational" mind would never have considered. We all muddle through, that is the only way.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 27, 2007 11:38 AM

Pittypat and cmac, who would have guessed you would have that in common? (age difference between siblings) :) My mother also has siblings that are much older and she became close to them as she got older. It's not that my son wouldn't appreciate a sibling at any age, I guess it's that the benefits for HIM become less important than whether another child is what I truly want - and maybe that is a good thing. But it brings other concerns into perspective for me - do I really want to start all over? When kids are close in age, it seems like it would feel like one continuous flow - if they're two years apart, you have them at home for a total of 20 years - if they're 10 years apart, it's a total of 28 years!! Not necessarily bad, just something to consider ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 27, 2007 11:39 AM

Great article and good question. How did we manage to have a second kid on one salary (my husband is a full time stay-at-home-dad)? We moved out of Arlington, VA to Philly where we could afford a house in a good school district, nearer to family who have been a big help. The only downside is that finding a new job in Philly in my area is harder than in the DC area. We get a bit nostalgic for Arlington,but the payoff is huge for us.

Posted by: Phillymom | February 27, 2007 11:39 AM

I just reread my post, and to clarify:

It's NOT the poster at 11:13 whom I was calling snarky. Quite the opposite. The 11:13 poster was accurately pointing out that, no matter how many/few children someone has, some people can (and at times will) be snarky.

Sorry if my post causes any confusion.

Posted by: catlady | February 27, 2007 11:40 AM

If my child were so sick that a hospital visit were possible, of course I would stay home! But a run of the mill fever and some diarhhea (not severe) is no biggie and happens all the time.

-- This has got to be the saddest thing I've ever heard. Is that what we've come to that mother's don't even want or feel the need to stay home with their kids when they are sick. Are they that big of an inconvenience? If you aren't going to take care of them when they are sick, what aspect of parenting do you consider to be important? I have such wonderful memories of my mother taking care of me when I was sick, bringing me drinks, reading to me playing games. I'm quite honestly appalled!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:41 AM

DD is three but as moxiemom pointed out DD has developmental delays. She has a speech and language delay (big reason not to leave her with someone we don't know very well) and social interaction delay. She has very clingy and has been since she was born. She also is very afraid of strangers. As far as her delays, I do think there are extra parent/teacher conferences and some extra doctors appointments. But not enough to impede having a second child. I do think her Drs appointments will eventually level off. But as any working parent of a little one, they get sick and stuff happens. I don't think DH will really chip in that much more besides getting both kids off to school and taking over some sleepless nights. I guess he would also have to take off more time for sick leave for the kids. But yes, I would be doing the extra laundry, teacher conferences and other stuff. He does help out but honestly, he has a lot on his plate too. He works full time and is getting his MBA at night.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:41 AM

I'm another only child who hated being an only, but that was in the 1970s when I didn't meet another only child until I was in high school. Also, my cousins were all over 10 years older than me, and we had no extended family nearby. So, by age 6, I knew I wanted two kids, and I've never deviated from that. My dh and I, before we married, agreed we'd have two kids. He's one of 3, and he didn't think he could manage 3.

We had our son in 2000, and our daughter in 2002. We had her for US, but what took my dh and I by surprise was that we needed her to be better parents to our son. He was just coddled by us; we did everything for him. Also, as another poster pointed out, he's learned a lot about dealing with conflict by his occasional tiffs with with his sister. (They actually get along reasonably well.) I still can't fight fair, and it drives my dh nuts.

Anyway, we both work full time, have to split shifts (dh does breakfast, makes the lunches and the morning dropoffs, I do the pickups and make dinner) and do a lot of communication.

I have no idea if they will grow up to be close adult siblings, indifferent or hating each other. All I can do is try to give them the tools to get along now and to be considerate to each other. I just want them to have a shot at a good sibling relationship, something I never had a chance at.

Posted by: Arlington Mom | February 27, 2007 11:43 AM

To TakomaMom, cmac and pittypat: My dad was always closer to his much-older brothers, not so much with the ones closer in age. Maybe there's sibling rivalry with the ones closer in age.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:43 AM

Foamgnome, my DH works full time and is working on his MBA at night too. He is gone 4ish nights a week and when he is home, he is doing homework, etc. This is in addition to high work demands including travel for a week every month or so.

How do you handle all the extra responsiblities and basically, running the show on your own (if that is indeed the case)? Sometimes, it is just too much and I would like to just sit and watch tv for a half hour :)

Posted by: s | February 27, 2007 11:45 AM

What the hell is a FOAMGNOME by the way?

Posted by: pATRICK | February 27, 2007 11:45 AM

s: The hardest part has been DD is a terrible sleeper. I truly believe we could have done a lot more if she slept better. But even if she was a sleeper, I rarely get time to myself. It is sad but my time to myself is my metro commute and work is slow. Right now, work is pretty slow. It is actually quite boring. But it is hard. We just hope that with DH getting an MBA, it will help secure us for the future. Also it is still easier for him to get the degree now rather then when DD is involved in a lot of extra curricular activities. But it is a hard investment in family time. I am so glad I went to graduate school pre marriage and pre kid.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:47 AM

I have a friend that decided to stop at one child because she and her husband realized they just weren't that into parenting and children. Their child appears to be well adjusted and happy so I suppose they're doing a pretty good job of 'faking it.'

I wonder if anyone else has that experience?

Posted by: TCY | February 27, 2007 11:47 AM

I really enjoy this column, but I have never been tempted to post until now. I guess it is because I had this conversation with my husband over the weekend and it has been quietly eating at me for a few days. I have a son who is 2. I feel that he is really lonely despite our efforts to involve him with cousins and children of friends. He is heartbroken when they leave or we leave them. He has started "playing" with a pretend sister or constantly needs my husband or I to be his playmate. My issue is that I have a sibling and so does my husband. We have always had extremely close relationships with our siblings. I consider my sister my best friend and before my son was born I always said that having an only child "was mean". That changed once I realized how hard being a Mom is while working full time. I really don't think I can handle another pregnancy, much less an infant, the body changes that I have just recently rebounded from, and the financial strain. The guilt of not providing this relationship that I have always considered so important for my son has me on the fence however. I know no one can make this decision for me. I guess I can only end this post by thanking all of you for providing your personal insight. Thank you.

Posted by: StillMeMommy | February 27, 2007 11:48 AM

Foamgnome is really two words together: foam gnome. It is a gnome made of foam.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:48 AM

I really wish more people would seriously think about how much having kids cost before they have any. Spreading your love is wonderful, but so is the ability to care for your children, educate them well to be independent and productive, AND take care of yourself in your old age.

I'm an only child, but I had family living nearby and never lacked for playmates. Yet I'm so thankful that I was an only child and that I had all the opportunities and attention I did. I am glad we traveled, I am glad I was able to take lessons, I am glad to have been able to go to school without accumulating massive amounts of debt.

My parents left me well situated to get a good start on my own in life and that's directly attributable to them having only me. Many of my friends who are one of three or more are facing a lifetime of student loan repayments even with good jobs. Furthermore, my parents' time was the most valuable thing they could have given me.

Both of them died while I was in college/grad school and I am now thankful for every minute I had with them. You don't need a blood sibling to be loved or to love. The family you choose is just as meaningful. So do your kids a favor - have only as many as you can afford to give good lives - and sadly in this day and age, it's expensive. Don't handicap them from the start.

Posted by: OnlyChild | February 27, 2007 11:49 AM

My husband is in the military- I have been alone with our 3 yr old daughter for about 16 months of her 36 month life.

How did I do it? I was a SAHM for the vast majority of the time. With the unpredictability of military life, there was no way I could have worked full time and been sane. I was working for 3 months while he was gone and it was the hardest 3 months of my life.
It is nonstop exhausting.

But it actually has a routine in it that makes it easier in a lot of ways. Kind of like a well oiled machine. Throw a cog or another piece in there (husband) and you have to figure it out all over again. That's a tough transition.

Posted by: to s | February 27, 2007 11:50 AM

I'm a little freaked out by workingmom's assertion that every childhood illness can be handled with backup daycare. Part of the thing with sick kids is that it's scary to be sick and sometimes you just want mommy or daddy to be there with you, holding your hair back while you vomit. Maybe her kids are just extremely self-reliant, but I wonder how they've felt about being sent off to one of the babysitters in her vast stable of caregivers when they're ill because she is so ESSENTIAL at her job and can't let her employer and coworkers down (rather than experiencing the comfort of home and a parent). Does she have a partner, or is she a single parent?

That said, my perspective is probably colored by the fact that I believe in working to live, not living to work. I've never had a high-powered career and currently freelance part-time and spend most of my time with my young daughter. I also took FMLA leave several times over the past few years to care for my father during his long illness. I wish I had been able to take even more time to be with him, now that he's gone. While I did everything in my power to keep things going at my office when I took time as a caregiver, family sometimes needs to come first.

foamgnome, have you thought about you or your husband downshifting to part-time work with a second child? Having one of us give up the commuting slog has been a huge money and time relief. While our belts are considerably tighter, we've also seen a tremendous quality of life improvement, which is worth more than the extras you described. The day-to-day moments matter to kids a lot more than the big splashy gestures, IMHO.

Posted by: restonmom | February 27, 2007 11:51 AM

I had three siblings and always assumed I would have more than one child. But I didn't find the right person to marry until age 35 and he is only willing to have one child. He was an only child and liked it that way.

I liked having siblings, but the idea of having one child appeals to me more than I'd ever thought I would. It simply seems more manageable. I don't think we are doing our future child great hardship.... I just think it's a personal choice and there are pros and cons each way.

Posted by: Alice | February 27, 2007 11:51 AM

"I have such wonderful memories of my mother taking care of me when I was sick, bringing me drinks, reading to me playing games."

It's great that you have those memories, but it sounds like SAHMbacktowork is in a different work situation than your mom was. It sounds like she has put great effort into selecting qualified babysitters that her child knows and likes, and I think it's quite possible that her daughter will have good memories of her days with those sitters. Every situation is different, and every child can relish a different type of memory. I remember having people other than my mom take care of me sometimes when I was sick and it was fine, sometimes fun when it was just a minor bug and I got to do different things with them than I would have with my parents.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 11:51 AM

Thank you for this post, Foamgnome! We currently have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and my husband really wants another child and I don't. It's not something we talk about or argue about much, but we just both know that we disagree on this matter. I adore my daughter and our lives as they are now. My career is a big focus for me (not as much for him) and I'm just starting out. He's nine years older than me so if we waited too much longer, he'd be well into his 40s. And as others have said, there's no guarantee that siblings will get along. I think a lot of my husband's desire for another child is to give our daughter a sibling (he's an only but has lots of close friends). And I barely see my brother and his family - once or twice a year at the most...and we have very little in common.

We both know it's an issue we have to address, but not any time in the next few years. I'm only 27! :-)

Posted by: PLS | February 27, 2007 11:52 AM

"Foamgnome is really two words together: foam gnome. It is a gnome made of foam."

Obviously, but what I was curious about was why it is important enough to you to use as your tagline.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 27, 2007 11:55 AM

For the past two years, I have worked part time. I worked 4 9-hour days. But after the transfer, they took that away. It is hard to come in at a new job on a part time basis. I would like to eventually get a part time job when DD is in elementary school. So she doesn't spend so much time in after school care. When she goes to preschool 5 days a week, next September, I do plan to work 5 8-hour days. So really DD will only be in day care for a few hours each day. Most of her waking day is at preschool. DH does get every other Friday off. He does this while working full time.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:56 AM

After two boys, my now-ex wanted a third child. My condition/compromise was I would have a third child if I could stay home from work - or even go part time as long as we were financially "comfortable" (aka, not rich, but not in debt either). Let's face it - I was tired and stressed from the two children we had from working full time and attending school part time in addition to parenting. I couldn't have another child without something else being sacrificed.

My now-ex made no effort to improve his job situation or come up with a financial plan to make that happen. So, I did not have a third child. Fast forward to mis-managed marriage problems that resulted in the end of a 20 year marriage - the now-ex leaving for a younger child-bearing age woman... and now he has his third son. My kids are happy to have a sibling.

Was I wrong to not have a third child. Was he wrong to not meet the needs of my compromise (or was I deemed controlling). Who wins. My kids are 17 and 19 and my house is mainly empty now; he basically gets a whole new happy and lively household. I'd rather have life in my house; a lesser paying job and less material things; to have a happy family even if that meant having a third child.

The bottom line is both the husband and wife need to agree on having a subsequent children and conditions surrounding that child. Having children means making sacrifices; but I think the love and joy in the household as a result could very well be worth it. Just set the priorities straight. No one ever laid on their death bed and wished they had worked more hours.

Posted by: C.W. | February 27, 2007 11:57 AM

Obviously, but what I was curious about was why it is important enough to you to use as your tagline

Please someone pay attention to pATRICK before he throws a fit.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 11:57 AM

We have one child (2.5) and I personally would be happy with just having one. I am currently a SAHM (wasn't always) and already feel it's a balancing act to get it all done. Almost everyone we know has two or more children, or is pregnant with a second child at the moment. Without exception, all the people we know with 2 or more young children have very busy lives.

I'm not convinced that's what I want for myself and my family. My husband is really convinced that children need to have a sibling - I'm not so sure. I have one sister - six years older - but we were essentially raised as two "only children" and it's never been an issue to me personally.

I feel like once my friends have a second child they have no free time, not for themselves, and not even for their children. Our visits with them and their children become practically non-existent. Maybe my friends are all terrible organizers, but I dread thinking this is what we'd have to "look forward to".

Thanks for today's blog - it hit a chord.

Posted by: Vienna mom | February 27, 2007 11:58 AM

My personal opinion is that children grow up better adjusted if they have siblings as playmates rather than always being a kid among grownups. It seems the only children are starved for play time when they come over to play with my kids.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 27, 2007 11:58 AM

Sorry Patrick. I choose that because a funny story back in college. One of my friends loved to steal gnomes off people's yard. He calls them liberating the gnomes. Well I was such a goody goody two shoes, that one day I left a foam gnome on someone's lawn the next day because I felt bad that he "stole" their lawn decorations. I was obviously too cheap to buy a replacement gnome but wanted to make some ammends. It is just a joke more then anything else.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 11:58 AM

I was an only child and loved it. For me, it did not inhibit my social skills. Ruby said "beach vacations are boring because there is no one to play with." Since I was an only child, I was forced to make friends on my vacations. My parents later teased me because as a child I would walk up to anyone that looked close to my age and say "Will you be my friend?" They always said yes.

When I was older, my parents let me take a friend with me on all of our vacations. I had a friend that was also an only child. Her parents took me on vacations and my parents took her. We grew up like sisters. I still consider her my sister even though she lives 4 states away and we see each other twice a year. So its possible to have sibling-like relationship with someone who is not blood related.

Posted by: Kristin | February 27, 2007 12:01 PM

Joe D.

"Brother and sister in the same bedroom? what is wrong with that? I had the same bedroom with my sister when I was 11.
Quit making excuses..."

It's called reducing the risk of incest, bub.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:02 PM

I know only children (and their parents) will want to throw rocks at my house because of what I'm going to write, but I need to anyway --

Yes, there are lots of wonderful only children. I am surrounded by them -- husband, best friend, stepmother, mother-in-law. But I know many very self-centered only children. They can't help it -- their world has always revolved around them. There is no better education in sharing, fairness and dispute resolution than having siblings. I think it is important for parents of onlies to make sure they get some "balance" in their lives too.

Also, the burdens on only children can be formidable. Even in the best of cases, only children seem acutely aware of how much their parents depend upon them. And I know that later in life, when their parents are gone, onlies suffer a kind of isolation that is hard to imagine.

None of this is a reason why Foamgnome or anyone else should have more than one kid. Just reality. I hate rosy pictures!

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 12:04 PM

"My parents later teased me because as a child I would walk up to anyone that looked close to my age and say "Will you be my friend?" They always said yes."

Kristin, this made me smile as I used to do the same thing on all our vacations (and I have an older brother, but apparently wanted other playmates). Anyway, I remember asking one girl at a campground we were staying at if she wanted to be friends and she said, "No, thank you, I already have a friend." I still remember being so surprised by that response. But I only remember it happening once.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 12:05 PM

Leslie, I actually agree with the sharing thing. DD is only three but she is already selfish. I don't know how much of this comes from being three and how much because she is the queen in our home. But when she has a bowl of popcorn, she doesn't even want to share a single kernel. She is really rough! We try working with her but besides insisting that we eat popcorn, which we don't need anyway, it is really hard. I can't imagine how she would react if she had to share her favorite playmate-Mom.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:07 PM

Foamgnome is really two words together: foam gnome. It is a gnome made of foam.

I never woulda thought of that
;-)))))))))))))))))))))))

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:07 PM

Brother and sister in the same bedroom? what is wrong with that?

Well, incest, like charity, begins in the home.

Posted by: To Joe D. | February 27, 2007 12:09 PM

One of my gnomes was liberated a few weeks ago. Sigh. I do love my gnomes.

Re: siblings and sharing. I don't think kids naturally want to share. Having a sibling won't make a kid share unless s/he is bodily threatened at some point in time. At that that was definitely true in this house! Ha ha ha!

If you want a kid to share, and this is not be easy, then rarely let them have something totally to themselves. E.g., don't make them popcorn if you don't want to have any, don't let them choose what to watch on TV unless you also want to watch it. Communal choice is forcing a sense of sharing. It is sort of like "you cut, I choose which half."

Posted by: dotted | February 27, 2007 12:15 PM

"Foamgnome is really two words together: foam gnome. It is a gnome made of foam."

Wow! Stop the presses! Wire Washington!! We have found the master of stating the obvious!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:15 PM

What the hell is a FOAMGNOME by the way?

that was the question. Not why do you use foamgnome as your screen name. The question was what is one.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:18 PM

This whole separate bedrooms business is a very modern, affluent American expectation and has driven our desire for bigger and bigger residences. Previous generations understood that a family of 5 can live in a 2 bedroom apartment for 10 years and save to pay a house off with no mortgage, no debt. We have to have everything we want NOW. If you want a 4 bedroom house, fine, but don't rationalize your want as a need because it's necessary to prevent incest.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:18 PM

One of my gnomes was liberated a few weeks ago. Sigh. I do love my gnomes.

Dotted, sorry to hear that. I don't think my friend did it this time. I don't think he has liberated any gnomes in about a decade. He has longings to but I think he refrains from such criminal behavior.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:21 PM

I remember having people other than my mom take care of me sometimes when I was sick and it was fine, sometimes fun when it was just a minor bug and I got to do different things with them than I would have with my parents.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 11:51 AM

You are seriously going to argue that it is appropriate for parents to outsource care for sick kids? What on earth is the point of being a parent? You send them to daycare so you can work, you send them to the "kids club" on vacation so you can relax and you don't even take care of them when they are sick. Why don't you just get a dog?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:23 PM

Foamgnome writes:

"The main reason we would choose to have one is TIME, our age, the distance between our children, and the logistics of managing two kids."

TIME was the reason we have only three children. We married late enough in life that it was difficult to have them (miscarriage, premature birth). When there were two, their mother would read them Donald Duck stories featuring his three nephews, and they would ask, "When is Dewey coming?" They, and we, used plain English words like "brother" and "sister." The word, "sibling," sounds academic and stilted, as if it came out of a psychology or sociology textbook -- none of us would never use that word. We had to tell them that there might not be anyone coming, because there's no guarantee that you can have more children, even if you try.

When a third child was on the way, there was a disagreement among the two older ones: do we still want Dewey, or do we want a little sister? The argument for a little sister was that then my wife and I would broaden the variety of toys in the family to include girl-type toys that the boys would be able to play with. The argument for a little brother was that he would complete the set, like Donald's nephews.

Foamgnome: Does your child want a little brother or sister? Would that have any effect on your decision to have more?

After three children, our TIME ran out. Although many of our friends have anywhere from four to twelve children, we are grateful for the three we were allowed to have.

Greenie writes:

"You can buy as many hybrid vehicles and fluorescent lightbulbs as you want, but the most environmentally significant decision any of us can make is to forego adding to the crushing burden of human overpopulation that is killing our planet."

The issue is not whether more people would be a "crushing burden" on our planet. The issue is whether having more children would be too much of a burden on your family. It may be that a couple will decide that even one child is too much of a burden. Meanwhile, another couple may decide that they can handle six daughters and six sons.

People breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. If you're going to let global environmental policy influence your family decisions, isn't it just as good to plant more trees on the back forty as to forgo having children?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | February 27, 2007 12:24 PM

Wasn't liberating gnomes some kind of cool fad thing to do at some time?

One of my gnomes is usually liberated about once a year. I think I know who is liberating them. I expect to see them all back 'visiting' me at some future point in time!

So I guess I'm 'sharing' them at the current time.

Posted by: dotted | February 27, 2007 12:25 PM

I don't think DD really knows exactly what a sibling is. She is just three right now and some of her playmates are just starting to get siblings. I don't think she will able to verbalize a desire or a dislike for at least another year. My guess is no. For the right now, I would say she would be intensely jealous. But the lessons learned by sharing your parent would probably be a good thing for her.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:27 PM

"If you want a 4 bedroom house, fine, but don't rationalize your want as a need because it's necessary to prevent incest."

Do you know anything about incest?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:27 PM

I know only children (and their parents) will want to throw rocks at my house because of what I'm going to write, but I need to anyway --

Yes, there are lots of wonderful only children. I am surrounded by them -- husband, best friend, stepmother, mother-in-law. But I know many very self-centered only children. They can't help it -- their world has always revolved around them. There is no better education in sharing, fairness and dispute resolution than having siblings. I think it is important for parents of onlies to make sure they get some "balance" in their lives too.

Also, the burdens on only children can be formidable. Even in the best of cases, only children seem acutely aware of how much their parents depend upon them. And I know that later in life, when their parents are gone, onlies suffer a kind of isolation that is hard to imagine.

None of this is a reason why Foamgnome or anyone else should have more than one kid. Just reality. I hate rosy pictures!

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 12:04 PM

You hate rosy pictures? Then get the rosy picture out of your head that having siblings forces one to be sharing and caring! Get the rosy Christmas mornings out of your head and picture parents struggling to pay for 1 child, let alone 2. Picture parents in a 1 bedroom apartment that can't afford 2 beds- never mind a house. Get the rosy picture out of your head that your kids will always be friends and be there to take care of you in your old age.

I know MANY MORE self centered people that have siblings. Just a natural occurence since most people have siblings. My daughter, an only, who is 3 yrs old, actually LOVES to share. Her personality is such that she receives joy from giving others joy. She loves her friends and some would say she's a push over. if she's pushed she says sternly "I don't like that" and moves on insted of pushing back. Yes, I guess I'm raising an only monster.

Once my husband and I are dead, she will NOT feel isolated. We have other family and a support system comprised of great friendships.

I feel that teaching her to build relationships OUTSIDE of family and learning to nurture those is much more meaningful than sticking with family "just because" you have blood ties.

I would never want to be in your situation of juggling 3 kids. But I won't criticize you for your choices.

Your comments on onlies are beyond rude. Suffer an isolation??? By the time I'm dead I'm hoping that she will have a family of her own on whom to depend. I will bear the loneliness of my parents deaths with or without my brother. My brother will do nothing to ease the hurt of missing my parents. My husband and my daugher will be the ones to pick me up after that kind of loss.

THAT'S reality. The reality is that your kids will be as judgmental as you are. I am not raising my daughter to throw stones at anyone's life- just to examine their own.

Maybe THAT'S the lesson in all of this. Maybe you shold preach as to how we live out lives instead of the # of kids in it.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 27, 2007 12:28 PM

I think some young people enjoy taking all sorts of lawn decorations. Gnomes are just easy targets. This particular guy has some weird fascination with liberating gnomes. One of his wedding games was to find all the hidden gnomes in the reception hall. Another was guess how many he liberated in his lifetime. I was shocked the number was approaching 100. I think he must have returned a good number of gnomes too. I have only seen about 20 or so at their house. Now that he is a father, I think he has given up his childish past time.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:29 PM

"This whole separate bedrooms business is a very modern, affluent American expectation and has driven our desire for bigger and bigger residences."

Nope, in my family it was driven by a desire to be ridded of painful reminders of the horrible slums and ghettoes in Europe.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:31 PM

Greenie writes:

"You can buy as many hybrid vehicles and fluorescent lightbulbs as you want, but the most environmentally significant decision any of us can make is to forego adding to the crushing burden of human overpopulation that is killing our planet."

These kind of statements make me really steamed. They are so arrogant and hateful. These people are like environmental nazis.
People are like some virus to be eradicated for the sake of the planet. Of Course they wouldn't think that their child, mom, sister dad etc should never have been born for the sake of the planet only other uunknown persons. Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses? Get over yourself GREENIE SCROOGE

Posted by: pATRICK | February 27, 2007 12:31 PM

Real quick before I get some stuff done-
Around here the fad was liberating the lit up deer right before Christmas...or else rearranging the deer....ummm....inappropriately.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If it is any comfort, I believe we all go through the # of kids conumdrum. And we each come to a unique conclusion using unique rationales. Best of luck to you.

Posted by: dotted | February 27, 2007 12:34 PM

Greenie: I actually used to hear the argument was that people should have only two children. They were allowed to replace themselves. Has something changed in this generation of enviromentalist that now we are suppose to only have one? What we do with the serious decline in our nations population if we were limited to only having one child? Not a judgement. Just a question.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:35 PM

"Is there any educational value to the Disney vacations?"

Does it really matter? Is it ever OK to do something just for fun?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:35 PM

I know it's odd, but having two kids has made my life easier in some ways. I have 2 girls, 28 months apart.

My first was extremely clingy, prone to upset, sensitive, and afraid of strangers. Having a second child was great for her-- it allowed her to be nurturing, warm, and focused on someone else rather than her own needs (no judgment on only kids-- this is just my own kid's personalities). She went from being afraid of strangers to walking up to them and announcing "I have a baby sister!"

While of course it was hard when we had two little ones, now that they are 3 and 5 they are great playmates for each other and not nearly as demanding of me. And the younger one learned things faster because of the older sister-- DD1 potty-trained at 3 years, DD2 at <2 years. Because the older one is young in some ways, and the younger one thinks she's the same age as the older one, we treat them almost as twins.

Obviously, YMMV. But there was something in the only-child family dynamic that didn't work for us, based on personalities. Now there's such a great dynamic within the family that we have stopped considering having a third. Any child being added to this dynamic duo would be a third wheel.

Posted by: Neighbor | February 27, 2007 12:36 PM

"You are seriously going to argue that it is appropriate for parents to outsource care for sick kids? What on earth is the point of being a parent? You send them to daycare so you can work, you send them to the "kids club" on vacation so you can relax and you don't even take care of them when they are sick. Why don't you just get a dog?

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 12:23 PM

First of all, your assumptions about my choices are unfounded and have nothing to do with my post.

Second of all, yes, I am going to argue that there are times when someone other than a child's mother (or father) can care for a sick child. I had frequent bouts of bronchitis when I was a kid. Enough to keep me home from school, but not scary or particularly difficult to cope with; time to rest, drinking lots of fluids, sometimes antibiotics - pretty basic. So having a neighbor or a babysitter hang out with me while I watched TV and be there while I napped and play games with me while I coughed a lot was just fine.

My guess is that SAHMbacktowork decides whether her child has to be out of daycare or school because of something run of the mill like that, in which case I don't think it's a big deal to have a sitter, or whether her child is seriously ill and will need the extra comfort of having a parent home. This is the reality of having a child and working; nothing is black and white and it's all about judgment calls that depend on the specific situation.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 12:36 PM

"For those on this board that were only children and never wished to have a sibling, do you even know what you were missing?"

Okay, let's play devil's advocate here for a minute, do you know what you were missing by not being an only child? (Seriously, not sarcastic here and not meaning it to come off as such, if it does.)

Perhaps, it isn't an issue of "missing" (either way) but rather just a different experience. People are either happy with their lot in life or they're not, and that doesn't necessarily have a whole lot to do with how many kids their parents had. (I suppose Lilybeth put it better, but I figured I would put in my two cents.)

Posted by: to cmac from a de-lurker | February 27, 2007 11:31 AM"

You obviously did not read my whole post - I made it clear that there is no way I can know what it is like being an only child - I never was one.

Further - I did not say one was better than the other - only that giving excuses for not having more then one child such as "well, all siblings don't get along" are weak. I could easily say - "well, most only children are lonely" and it would just as easily be shot down.

And I am going out on a wobbly limb here, but I agree with Leslie. I only know a handful of "onlies" and a majority of them as kids were the ones with the over-bearing parents and very pretentious. My one close "Only" friend said she prayed for a brother or sister every night to take the pressure off. My experience may be completely different then others, but it is what it is.

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 12:37 PM

We made the decision that was right for us, but I recall clearly the constant badgering of family, friends, and acquaintances about having a second child. I don't mean this to be snarky, but my sense was that many people are quite uncomfortable with the concept of having one child, and their comments are driven by their own discomfort, and with no other basis than their anecdotal experience. We were highly amused at the intensity with which strangers held forth on the laundry list of negative personality characterics that they presumed were our son's destiny -- none of which, at age 6, were foreshadowed. Our son never had any problem with sharing, had plenty of friends, knew the world did not revolve around him, and was a happy-go-lucky, social -- not at all lonely - child. He wanted a sibling, but we had his sister because we wanted to, not for him. Now he has a sister, whom we adore, but on whom he is less sold. Good thing we didn't intend her as a playmate for him because that may or may not ever occur.

We also found that adding a second child to our family ratcheted up the stress on our marriage exponentially. I have never heard anyone talk about this and but I suspect that the introduction of a second, or third, or pick your number, child into a family often has the result of unsettling the marriage relationship in addition to all the other changes he/she brings to the family. I also suspect that the reason no one talks about this is because no one ever wants the second or third child to feel as though he was responsible for breaking up Mom and Dad's marriage. Not talking about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it may hit unsuspecting new parents unarmed and leave them feeling as though they are the only couple for whom the birth of a child has not been a resounding 100% positive event. Who has time for marriage counseling with a new baby in the house? On the other hand, maybe we were the anomaly and our experience was atypical. Your thoughts?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 27, 2007 12:38 PM

Now if only psycho astronauts considered the same things before going on cross country drives! LMAO at 12:18. True... that is why I am renting a tiny place here while I make payments on a HUGE place somewhere much more affordable. Believe it or not there are still beautiful homes towns where the most expensive things on the menu are about $6.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 12:41 PM

This is the reality of having a child and working; nothing is black and white and it's all about judgment calls that depend on the specific situation.

-- It is a pathetic, sad satate of affairs when mothers don't even want to take care of their children. And we wonder why there are so many problem in our society and so many young people with misplace priorities. Rationalize all you want - that is simply wrong! Again, if a sick kid isn't important enough to tear you away from your work, what on earth is. I wonder what decision your kids will make when you are in need of care????

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 12:41 PM

I married a man with full custody of his two small children, and we did not have a baby together because we could not afford to have a third child. My sister told me I would regret never having a child "of my own" and she was wrong about that. I am now 48 and our sons are 22 and 26 and I have always believed we made the right decision. A third child would have deprived our other two of many of the things they needed to have a happy childhood, not the least of which was parents who were not outrageously stressed out. By the way, my husband is an only child and he turned out just fine. Don't expand your family unless you are completely comfortable with the idea.

Posted by: Suzy | February 27, 2007 12:42 PM

My brother, sister and I get along very well NOW. When we were kids it was the usual sibling rivalry - nothing out of the ordinary.
As for the comment abot having a second child to help with aging parents, I would hope that people don't have a second child just just for that reason. I have seen way too many kids dump on the one who lives closest and then basically feel that it is the end of it. Sometimes the sibling may not be able to help. Just my two cents.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 27, 2007 12:43 PM

I intentionally chose to have one child, and given that my marriage ended when my daughter was five years old, it was the correct choice for me. As a single mother with no support from my ex-husband (financial or otherwise), I would be in serious trouble if I had to pay for two chilren's after-school programs, then college, etc. I did not want to mortgage the future of my daughter in order to have another child. She's quite happy being the only child. She hates sharing me with anyone.

Posted by: single western mom | February 27, 2007 12:44 PM

Someone saying that it is more environmental not to have more kids is different from, as you say, "People are like some virus to be eradicated for the sake of the planet." Choosing not to have kids is different from eradicating them.

I feel a Monty Python song coming on...

Posted by: To pATRICK | February 27, 2007 12:45 PM

NCLawyer: I agree with you. I think if #2 was as bad a sleeper or worse, then our marriage would take a hit. It is not unreasonable to say that the addition of children brings on added marital stress. We just hope that the stress is out weighed by the joys.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 12:47 PM

We have one 18-month old and are probably going to start trying for a second (final) child this year.

If we have another boy, there is a chance we may adopt a girl from India (DH is Indian) as our third, but I'm not sure -- we'll see when we get there!

I have a brother younger to me by 3 years. I do think a sibling is important, but not at the cost of someone's marriage or peace of mind. We are close although he lives far geographically, and I'd say we fought about 50% of the time growing up and played the other 50%. I'm glad he was there.

I think only children may feel a lot more pressure from their parents in the future. For example, I already have a grandchild, so my brother (not yet married) doesn't have that pressure (yet). I am closer to my mom geographically and will probably be the "caretaker" for her and my dad.

These are legitimate issues to consider now when thinking of your family and how you'd like it to be.


Posted by: Rebecca | February 27, 2007 12:50 PM

Whoa, SAHMback to work -- chill out! I wasn't being judgmental. No need to insult me as retaliation! I tried to make it clear that I'm not talking about ALL only children. There are GREAT benefits of being an only child. Sorry if I offended you. I just felt that some of the pro-only children posters were painting too rosy a picture. Some of the posts started to have that awful tinge of political correctness that makes some discussions downright insipid. We NEVER have that kind of discussion here and I didn't want today to turn into one.

The bottom line is that there are pros and cons to the One & Only Decision, just as their are pros/cons to everything about parenthood and life. I wasn't judging you or anyone else for their decisions. Just trying to present a full picture.

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 12:50 PM

I don't really have much to add--you guys have covered it all very eloquently. I do want to say, though, that I enjoyed your guest post, foamgnome, as I enjoy all of your comments.

I definitely can't say from experience, but I think I have to second the opinion of those who say it's a crapshoot. No one I know is close to their siblings. I don't even speak to my stepsister, and I only see my sister at Christmastime. We didn't have a fight or anything; we just don't 'click.' And I don't think it's 'owed' to a child to give them a sibling. I don't think only children grow up narcissistic; I think that's an individual thing. And as I said yesterday, I'd be fine with one, two, three, or how many I could afford. But it's a personal decision, and to answer your question, there is NOTHING wrong with one. If that's what works for you, go for it! If you find you really want another, I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work. Good luck to you; we wish you all the best.

Posted by: Mona | February 27, 2007 12:54 PM

Since so many people keep bringing up the future and the "what ifs" why doesn't anyone consider this:

What is #2 is disabled?
What if #2 turns into #2 AND #3 twins??
What if pregnancy #2 results in bed rest and loss of income?

If any of these things happened my family would be in SERIOUS trouble. Not just pinching corners and canceling our cable subscription trouble- but homeless kind of trouble.

And I think I'm more responsible, better parent because I know my limitations and know that as a family we would crash under those circumstances.

When thinking of child #2 I am considering all possibilities, I was prepared to take whatever came with baby #1- I can't say the same for #2.

So will my only child still be the spawn of satan? I think not

Posted by: what if?? | February 27, 2007 12:54 PM

Actually Leslie, go back and read your post. It was very judgmental. That just happens to be your reality. It's not my reality or my experience. You knew what kind of comments you were making, as you prefaced it saying so.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 27, 2007 12:58 PM

I'm an only child. Have a second. It will reduce the panic of your only being irreplacable and you'll let them DO THINGS. Right now there is still this constant worry that if i hurt myself that there's no one else to produce the grandbaby or be there to talk late at night with my mom. Its tough to be an only, especailly when your mom is an only, and as you get older it gets lonely and you do have to rely on your friends and their families a LOT for stuff that normally your own family would provide in the way of help. Go for a #2 not to call it a backup kid, but to keep you from fixating on number one all the time.

Posted by: ljb | February 27, 2007 1:01 PM

Foamgnome, I liked your post.

Not having any kids, I don't have much to add except something a little harsh, so I apologize.

If we're shattering rosy pictures, I'd like to dispel the myth that "somehow you just find the money to afford children." It's a very cute idea that you just have money where none existed before without any planning. The truth of the matter is that sometimes you just can not afford a child or more children. Period. If you don't believe me, check out some stats. There are many instances of parents living in poverty because their children needed extra medical care, or because they just didn't plan ahead. Always plan for the worst.

And pATRICK, my husband read somewhere that raising a child to the age of 18 costs about $1 million. So apparently some people are looking into how much it costs to have kids! We certainly did, and that aided in our decision making.

Posted by: Meesh | February 27, 2007 1:01 PM

NCLawyer, you're right -- the impact on the marriage was one thing we considered a lot before we had no. 2, and it is the single driving factor in our decision to never, ever even contemplate no. 3. My husband just has limited patience for (small) kids, and unrealistically high expectations (i.e., "I just don't get why I have to keep telling her the same thing over and over again" -- answer, because she's FIVE).

With our daughter, I wrote his annoyance off mostly to job troubles and moving and all the other crises we were going through. And with just one kid, I could generally smooth things over ok, so everything seemed manageable. But when we added our son, it brought us a lot closer to the tipping point -- cute baby boy is now annoying toddler who pushes buttons right and left, I've realized that this is about my husband's attitude and not external circumstances, and now I am pushed to my limit trying to keep the burden on him manageable while giving my kids the attention they need while keeping up with work (and not losing my own mind or relationship with my husband in the process).

We do talk about these things and are working on de-stressing and better anger management, etc., but I'm not about to just blindly assume that if we had a third, he'd suddenly have a drastic personality change. More likely, if we had three, something would have to give, and as of now, I worry that it would be our marriage. Not a chance I'm willing to take -- and since I have the ability to avoid adding that additional stress (knock on wood!), I will do so.

Posted by: Laura | February 27, 2007 1:02 PM

Here's a twist on some of the stories and decisions made here today. I always wanted more than 2. I have only 1 sibling, and always wnated more than that. I married a man who is youngest of 7. He was good with just one.

Flash forward to our first child. HARDEST thing I have ever done in my LIFE!!!!! I was amazed, floored, in shock with the amount of work, both mental and physical. And I was TIRED!!!! There was no WAY I was having another!

But, somewhere around when my son turned 2, everything seemed to click, and then BAM, I was ready for another. It just felt right. My husband agreed wholeheartedly.

With #2, a daughter, I was much more relaxed, confident. I had such a good time with BOTH kids. My ds LOVED is baby sister. They are 9 and 6 now, and we are BUSY BUSY BUSY, but it is working well for us. Really well. They play together by choice - although he refuses to play baby dolls or store, and she's not a fan of Pokemon.

And, I've never had that urge, need, voice, whatever you want to call it, to have a 3rd. Even though I started out that way. And, my daughter would like a baby sister, but is content to play with other peoples babies.

We both work, and while we weren't dirt broke during the 'full-time daycare' days, today, we have no idea how we got by back then. Where does the $$$$ go??

Posted by: JerseyGirl | February 27, 2007 1:03 PM

Thanks for your post foamgnome. I always find your comments on this blog interesting and balanced. I think you are so right to try to find a job that will give you the right balance and to consider whether adding another child to the mix is the right decision. Like others I didn't really consider whether to have a second but just went ahead and did it. I had a good relationship with my brother as a kid so that influenced me as well. I did, however, scale back from my original plan to have three kids to have just two. My daughter was a difficult infant (colic) and my husband and I didn't adjust to it as seamlessly as we could have. So, we put off trying for a second a little longer so we could give ourselves more time to adjust to being parents.

I love my son to death and I think that it is nice for my daughter to have a sibling. They fight a lot but also love each other very much and enjoy playing together. They both want us to have more kids but we do not plan to have anymore. I agree with those who said do it for you and your husband, not your child.

In terms of paying for daycare, paying for college, that has impacted us as well and the fact that I am 38 and know that having another child now carries certain risks. It's important to me to be able to pay for my children's college education but not for some of my friends. They plan to help if they can but they paid for college with loans and aid and if their kids do too, that's fine with them.

Also, my husband's views on this are an equal factor. Although, part of me would love to go ahead and have that third child my husband does not want any more kids, for financial reasons, time management and he just doesn't think he has the patience or stamina to deal with another child. I think if we did, our relationship would suffer greatly.

These are intensely personal choices. I don't think it's wrong to want to have a house with separate bedrooms for each child and to fund a private school college education for each one. Nor do I think it's wrong to double (or triple) up your kids and help them fill out loan and financial ad apps when it's time to go to college.

What I think is most important, is that you and your husband make a decision that you think you will be able to live with long-term. Be honest with yourselves. Think it through long and hard.

One thing you shouldn't worry about though -- you will love your second child as much as your first; you will enjoy every minute; and you will have enough time for both. That all comes together in some magical way.

Posted by: Part-time working mom | February 27, 2007 1:03 PM

I suppose I am one of the very very few who gets along with my siblings. I have not yet had any children myself, so in my inexperience I will say this:

It stikes me as a distinct probability that an only child will grow up to be more spoiled and self centered than a child with siblings. With siblings, you learn as you grow that you are not the center of the universe and that you must share and play nice, etc etc. An only child does not have this experience and (I believe) has a harder time adapting to real life once they leave the nest.

Posted by: Janet | February 27, 2007 1:04 PM

Just to play devil's advocate here on the sick child thing (and this has nothing to do with foamgnome's original comment about taking sick leave), our oldest child does not need his mom's or dad's love and attention on the day that he feels 95% fine but still has to stay home because he had a fever of 100 degrees the day before. He needs our love and attention on the day he's alternating between sweats and being cold, or feeling pretty lightheaded. And neither child needs us both even on the most dreadful of days. Nor do they need their mom more than their dad.

One of us stays home and we make the call based on which employer can better adjust to our respective absence on that day. We have tons of sick leave, but would lose our jobs if we came close to using it on a regular basis because it would indicate a lack of appreciation for the businesses we're in and the impact of an unplanned absence. Neither of us is fungible at work. No one else can do DH's job (and, in a crisis, his employer's pure online business comes to a screeching halt) and no one else can do mine (except for new projects which can be assigned to others on my team), so our response to each illness really is situational.

Having said that, I can't let working mother's original comment slide. Even the most sexist demanding person in my office -- and my most demanding clients -- would think I had lost my mind if either I or my husband didn't stay home with a child who is vomiting -- that's not the sniffles, bub. (so what would I do? I'd either work from home from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. to get whatever my clients need on their desks the next morning, or I'd head into the office as soon as DH is able to get home). Our kids don't get sick every winter and it's not predictable on the rare occasion that they are under the weather. And we make our kids consume a LOT of citrus fruit and have convinced them they like it. There are few if any back-up to the back-up plans available in this area other than emergency nurses, and if my kids don't know them, an emergency isn't the time to introduce them, IMHO.

I feel better now :>)

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 27, 2007 1:06 PM

"I wonder what decision your kids will make when you are in need of care????"

Well, actually, I've told my mother repeatedly that we will always be here for her, including having her move in with us if necessary. But I probably won't stay home with her when she has the snuffles, horrible daughter that I am...

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 1:06 PM

"Luckily, I love my son just as much as my daughter, but differently. I love my daughter fiercely and protectively; she has challenged me in so many ways, and by her very existence forced me to learn and grow in ways that I never imagined. I love my son gently and warmly; he's such a sweet, gentle snugglebunny, and it makes me happy and proud to see his little personality develop. So it is immensely more, and yet never too much.

Posted by: Laura | February 27, 2007 11:26 AM"

I have the same "love" for each of my kids. I wonder if the mother-son love is just different? I am very protective of my daughter, mainly because I relate to so much of the girl angst she will go through (and does at the tender age of 9.) However with my son it is a very easy, fun love. I had people tell me boys are more loving towards their mothers and I kind of poo-poo'ed it because my daughter was such a loving child, but it is true in our family. Or maybe I am just more relaxed with him? Hard to tell. My worries were unnecessary though - I love them both.

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 1:07 PM

A lot of people here with 2 and 3 year olds. My kids are 4 years apart because it took that long for me to want another :0). Maybe we just had to get beyond the draining age so we felt like we had enough energy to give anothe child.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:07 PM

oldest child does not need his mom's or dad's love and attention on the day that he feels 95% fine but still has to stay home because he had a fever of 100 degrees the day before. He needs our love and attention on the day he's ........

-- well, golly, then. I don't suppose he NEEDs you to put him to bed, he probably doesn't NEED you to read to him or feed him. Again, what then do they need you for especially with all the "loving caregivers" I read about. Why not rent a couple of kids for the christmas card each year and call it a day. Unbelieveable!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:11 PM

To:Another Librarianmom
Not snarky and not an attack. I think people on this list often do not see the other side's point of view---those of the co-workers and the employers. Not all employers are evil and not all employees are angels who behave responsibly toward their job. I never accused foamgnome of irresponsibility. Only that when something can be predicted (sick daycare kid in winter), the employee should devise back up plans. Sometimes the employee needs to see it from the employer's point of view.

Further, it becomes tiresome when every time someone has a difference of opinion he or she is called "snarky".

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 1:11 PM

CMAC, is your son also a second child? I'm fascinated by your and Laura's descriptions of your different types of love. I have only my two-year-old son, and I would describe my love for him as more fierce than laid back. He has a very fiesty personality (though is also incredible sweet), so that could be it, but I also wonder if it's the first child thing, if I would have been more relaxed about the whole motherhood thing and that would have changed the dynamic.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 1:13 PM

12:41 p.m. wrote:

"It is a pathetic, sad satate of affairs when mothers don't even want to take care of their children."

Interesting that automatically it is presumed that:

a) only mothers take care of children (last time I checked it takes TWO to make 'em)

b) that someone didn't want to take care of their child

c) it also presumes that the mother (because evidently fathers don't exist or count for much) is the be-all, end-all of social development, along with everything else.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:15 PM

"I had people tell me boys are more loving towards their mothers and I kind of poo-poo'ed it"

You might want to check out the story of Oedipus before you start pooping.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:16 PM

NC Lawyer:

I have never heard anyone talk about this and but I suspect that the introduction of a second, or third, or pick your number, child into a family often has the result of unsettling the marriage relationship in addition to all the other changes he/she brings to the family. I also suspect that the reason no one talks about this is because no one ever wants the second or third child to feel as though he was responsible for breaking up Mom and Dad's marriage.
_____________________

Through observation, I'd have to agree with you here. The marriages of both my brother and my wife's brother started to fail right after the birth of children.

In my brother's case, it was the second. She's six years younger than her older sister; my sister-in-law always wanted more. When number 2 was born, her mother became a SAHM and devoted all of her time to the baby; dad and big sister got much less attention. No, the baby wasn't the reason the marriage failed; that was caused by the fact that my brother and his now-ex played a game of "you-hurt-me-so-I'll-hurt-you-back-more" until, well, it's still going on. But the disruption in family life was definitely started when the baby was born.
(And speaking of NC Lawyers, my brother and his ex-wife are still making lawyers in Greenville very, very wealthy indeed!)
(And the ironic thing in all that is that the ex remarried shortly after the divorce; her new husband wanted nothing to do with these two kids who weren't his so my brother wound us as the single father of two girls.)

With my wife's brother, it was number 4 that started the problems. They had 3 children, the youngest of whom was 7, when number 4 came along. It destroyed the life-style that the mother had expected to have as the kids got older - it was back to diapers, day care issues, etc. and led to the end of that marriage. Again, it wasn't the baby's fault that ended the marriage, it was parental idiocy, but that started it.
(And in this case again the ex-wife remarried a guy with a lot of money right after the divorce; he wanted nothing to do with these kids that weren't his so my brother-in-law is the single father of 4 while his ex-wife now has the lifestyle she always wanted - travel; vacations on a moment's notice; huge house, etc.)

So I think that NC Lawyer has a good point, and it's one that does need to be thought out.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 27, 2007 1:17 PM

On the different kinds of love-

"Daughters are daughters for life. Sons are sons until marriage"

Obviously my mother loves my brothers and I the same, but there's nothing like a great mother-daughter relationship. on the flip side, an awful mother-daughter relationship is very painful.

But I rarely see adult sons sticking around with their side of the family. It seems to be that the woman's family is more involved especially once kids come along.

Ex, my boss has a son with 2 kids and now his daughter is expecting a little one. He even admits that it's much more special with his daughter. there's something about yourl ittle girl becoming a mom that beats out your son becoming a dad.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:17 PM

It's a gut thing! Go with your gut. Look around your home, look at your husband, look at your daughter and picture all of that with another child. After that, look at it without another child. From there, picture another child but without the husband and then picture another child with the husband (who travels) and you as a SAHM. Finally, picture another child with DH as a stay at home dad and you working in corporate America (15hours/day). Now normalize all of that out, picture the most likely outcome and ask your gut (am I and are we happy with the work/family balance?) and then GO FOR IT!
After 7 years of being a divorced working mom, I so very much wanted another child (before it was too late) and my son very much wanted a sibling. Two and a half years later, I'm raising an 9 year old and a toddler (who absolutely love each other). Yes, I'm tired and yes, the tradeoffs exist (particularly financial) but I'm so happy our little addition is part of our family.

Posted by: 2's company | February 27, 2007 1:19 PM

"I can't imagine how she would react if she had to share her favorite playmate-Mom."

More children, especially close in age, means more playmates. Our two daughters (4 yrs and 2 yrs) occupy each other quite well. And if our baby is getting antsy, they'll sing and dance for him.

Siblings are a great way for kids to practice daily sacrifice. Sharing toys, sharing a room, showing kindness to those who are smaller and weaker than you. Asking for a toy when you could just snatch it from the younger one's hands.

Not that any of this comes naturally to children of course, but that's part of the parents' job, to help children overcome their natural self centeredness.

Posted by: RockvilleDad | February 27, 2007 1:23 PM

"You are seriously going to argue that it is appropriate for parents to outsource care for sick kids? What on earth is the point of being a parent? You send them to daycare so you can work, you send them to the "kids club" on vacation so you can relax and you don't even take care of them when they are sick. Why don't you just get a dog?"
and
"-- It is a pathetic, sad satate of affairs when mothers don't even want to take care of their children. And we wonder why there are so many problem in our society and so many young people with misplace priorities. Rationalize all you want - that is simply wrong! Again, if a sick kid isn't important enough to tear you away from your work, what on earth is. I wonder what decision your kids will make when you are in need of care????"

What is pathetic are "anonymous" posters like you making judgements about other's priorities. What a nasty jerk of a person you are. There are a lot of people who either cannot take time off from work or who are highly responsible and balance whether or not they are willing to risk their jobs/careers for every little sniffle. I think the poster who provided ideas about back-up care gave helpful advice.

This list is soooo biased against working mothers that it's just not worth having discussions here anymore.

Posted by: anonymous on purpose | February 27, 2007 1:24 PM

Laura:
However with my son it is a very easy, fun love. I had people tell me boys are more loving towards their mothers and I kind of poo-poo'ed it because my daughter was such a loving child, but it is true in our family.
_______________________________________

There might be something to this, but I think it applies to father-daughter relationships as well as mother-son.

I know that, while I love the all "the same amount", I feel somewhat differently about the three girls than about our only son. In some ways, I'm closer to them than to him - I have no idea why. I know that when the oldest started going through puberty, she rebelled hard against her mother, while she and I got along fine, just like we always had. On the other hand, when the son started puberty, he and I had a number of long, long talks about things.

In some ways, though, DW is much closer to DS than I am. We've talked about it - maybe it's because I can understand much better what a boy is going through and can identify things I want him to do better at; while she can do the same with the girls. With the child of the opposite gender, though, there's a factor of not truly understanding what's going on because you haven't been through it yourself.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 27, 2007 1:24 PM

oldest child does not need his mom's or dad's love and attention on the day that he feels 95% fine but still has to stay home because he had a fever of 100 degrees the day before. He needs our love and attention on the day he's ........

-- well, golly, then. I don't suppose he NEEDs you to put him to bed, he probably doesn't NEED you to read to him or feed him. Again, what then do they need you for especially with all the "loving caregivers" I read about. Why not rent a couple of kids for the christmas card each year and call it a day. Unbelieveable!

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 01:11 PM

I wonder if you even read my post? Do you think my son needs me in order to breathe? to sit next to him while he reads a book for 2 hours in bed or naps? He's 11. You must be very insecure to leap on every comment and suggest that not everyone is as caring a parent as you.

What do my children need me for? I'm the secure home from which they venture into the world to figure out who they are, who they want to be, who they are becoming. I'm the foundation they can always run home to, ask questions of, who feeds, clothes, and takes care of their material needs, who raises them and sets limits, including guiding them to make good decisions, figuring out what they right thing to do is, and figuring out how their relationship with God impacts all of the above.

I am not a better mother because I personally pack their lunches and another mom hands them money to purchase lunches made by school cafeteria employees. I am not a worse mother than you because I don't hover over a fifth grade child who feels fine, but can't go back to school today. That strikes me as raising a child with an attitude of entitlement that the sun rises and sets on every headache and every sniffle. Sorry - I was the youngest of 4 and DH was the youngest of 8 and neither of our respective moms had the time to make mountains out of molehills. Personally, I think our approach to balance teaches perspective. Reasonable minds may disagree. Note, "reasonable".

I'd like to think you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 27, 2007 1:26 PM

I come from a family of 4 kids. I hated it as a child, but love it as an adult. My husband was an only child. He loved it as a child, but hates it as an adult.

We have two children. We'll see how that turns out.

Posted by: Lacie | February 27, 2007 1:28 PM

Great post today!

My husband and I are older parents (mid-40's and mid-50s). We have one young child and are not planning others. I, personally, am sad about this for selfish reasons, but I am also sad that she will not have the opportunity for a sibling relationship (her father and I both have siblings and have good relationships w/them). Mostly though I fear our deaths and leaving her "alone" in the world. She also does not have any cousins either that are close in age.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:29 PM

Great discussion! I'm an only child and I love it. I'm recently married and as my husband I talk about starting a family, I am definitely advocating one child. Sure, when I was a kid, I thought it would be neat to have a sibling, but I also thought it would be neat to have a pony. My parents have since told me they made a conscious effort not to treat me like an only, i.e. getting everything I asked for. I think I'm pretty well adjusted!

As for caring for older parents. . . I don't know that folks with siblings have it any easier. I see a lot of people fighting with siblings over what to do with mom and/or dad. Location plays a huge part in this dilemma as well, as the closer child usually deals with more day-to-day and the child further away feels a lot of guilt. As an only, I know I am responsible for my mom as she ages, and I'm fine with that.


Posted by: onlyla | February 27, 2007 1:32 PM

"We have to have everything we want NOW. If you want a 4 bedroom house, fine, but don't rationalize your want as a need because it's necessary to prevent incest."

LOL! Right on target!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:34 PM

"I had people tell me boys are more loving towards their mothers and I kind of poo-poo'ed it"

You might want to check out the story of Oedipus before you start pooping.

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 01:16 PM

You might want stop posting ridiculous comments and maybe people will take you seriously.

Posted by: CMAC | February 27, 2007 1:34 PM

"Again, if a sick kid isn't important enough to tear you away from your work, what on earth is."

If a child who needs food and shelter isn't important enough to push you towards your work, then what on Earth is?

"It's called reducing the risk of incest, bub."

Does anyone know if teens who have their own bedrooms and enough privacy to masturbate in them are more likely, less likely, or just as likely to have sex on dates away from home than teens who don't have any bedroom privacy?

"This whole separate bedrooms business is a very modern, affluent American expectation and has driven our desire for bigger and bigger residences."

Letting your daughter stay in your house until she turns 18 and goes to college, instead of shipping her to her husband's house around age 10, is another modern, affluent expectation that helps drive a desire for bigger and bigger residences. Does that make it a bad thing?

"Your comments on onlies are beyond rude. Suffer an isolation??? By the time I'm dead I'm hoping that she will have a family of her own on whom to depend."

...and one she can make by having social interactions with non-relatives instead of marrying a little closer to home, right? :)

I know someone who did have siblings and still assumes the worst of everyone outside her extended family, whines about having had to settle for marrying outside her culture because her siblings were embarassing and her parents didn't save up a dowry, etc.

"Of Course they wouldn't think that their child, mom, sister dad etc should never have been born for the sake of the planet only other uunknown persons."

You say that as if you've never prevented any births yourself. Have you really been making babies since you first became fertile, or are you being a bit inconsistent here?

"If we're shattering rosy pictures, I'd like to dispel the myth that 'somehow you just find the money to afford children.' It's a very cute idea that you just have money where none existed before without any planning."

I've heard of a few families in Afghanistan making a net profit by having lots of kids and selling the daughters.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:38 PM

One of my closest friends is an only child, and is in a serious relationship with a German man who also is an only child. They almost didn't end up together because both felt obligations to be near their parents because of being only children. Their "compromise" is living in London, which is 6+ hours away from family for both of them.

Posted by: Neighbor | February 27, 2007 1:38 PM

"On the different kinds of love-

"Daughters are daughters for life. Sons are sons until marriage"

Sooo not true. At least not in my family. I have an aunt with 4 children, 3 of them boys (all grown up and with children of their own), and every time we all go visit her in her hometown, you can count with a full house (19 people, last time I counted) staying with her for the holidays... even though the wives' mothers all live in the same town.

Same with my mom and my brother. To this day, my brother still goes first thing in the morning to my mother's house on Mother's Day to cook her breakfast. One time he even travelled 4 hours to where she was staying for vacation to surpise her. And, he's the one who lives 10 minutes down the road from my mom. I live 2 hours by plane.

I just hope my son will grow up to be half the loving guy my brother is.

Posted by: Poolesville | February 27, 2007 1:39 PM

"One of my gnomes is usually liberated about once a year. I think I know who is liberating them. I expect to see them all back 'visiting' me at some future point in time!"

I think I read somewhere recently that some people "liberate" gnomes, then take them on cross-country or inter-continental travel. They photograph the gnomes against famous backdrops (Eiffel Tower, etc.) and send the pix to the gnome owners.

Dotted, maybe one day soon you'll get a photo!

Posted by: pittypat | February 27, 2007 1:39 PM

"As for caring for older parents. . . I don't know that folks with siblings have it any easier. I see a lot of people fighting with siblings over what to do with mom and/or dad. Location plays a huge part in this dilemma as well, as the closer child usually deals with more day-to-day and the child further away feels a lot of guilt. "

onlyla - truer words were never spoken. my father was the middle child of 3. Disagreements over what level of care was appropriate for his mom and how payments for that care should be allocated among the children drove a wedge between him and sisters that never healed. (His 2 SAH mom sisters thought he should pay 50% of the cost of Cadillac care because he was employed. He disagreed both that Cadillac care was an option and that, if it was, he should bear half the cost. He was raising 4 kids and supporting a SAH mom wife. They told him he didn't love his mother sufficiently. It was lovely.) At the end of her life, their mom was no better off because she had 3 kids, particularly because she was aware that her kids were at best civil to one another during her final 2 years.

Posted by: to onlyla | February 27, 2007 1:40 PM

I was an only child and always regretting not having a least one sibling to bounce things off of and to act as a buffer with my folks. Having a sibling could have helped with my socialization skills as well. We just had our first child and he's going to get a brother or sister, that's for sure.

Posted by: Bob | February 27, 2007 1:40 PM

"CMAC, is your son also a second child? I'm fascinated by your and Laura's descriptions of your different types of love. I have only my two-year-old son, and I would describe my love for him as more fierce than laid back. He has a very fiesty personality (though is also incredible sweet), so that could be it, but I also wonder if it's the first child thing, if I would have been more relaxed about the whole motherhood thing and that would have changed the dynamic.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 01:13 PM"

Yes, he is a second - 3 years younger than my daughter. I really don't know if it is birth order or gender or personality, I just find him so "easy" (and I use that word loosely for lack of a better word) to love. He is incredibly warm and funny, but so is my daughter so I can't explain it.

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 1:40 PM

I really can't believe some of these posts giving parents a hard time about not staying home EVERY time their children get sick. Do you realize how often some children get sick? Many (if not all) daycares won't let your child in if he/she has a fever over a 100 degrees! Hell, my DS has a fever of 100 degrees almost once a month - he gets a low grade fever when he teethes. Doesn't mean mommy needs to stay home with him.

Give it a rest, people, and stop passing judgments against parents who are clearly doing what they feel is the absolute best for their children. I know some people feel that the "best" must mean being home with your child 24/7, but many of us don't. In any case, it is possible to disagree without being so snarky.

Posted by: londonmom | February 27, 2007 1:41 PM

Not sure how far down the line you want to look, but here's a thought: You and your husband may one day require years of care in your declining years.

You shouldn't have another child just so your current one may have extra labor available decades from now, but taking care of parents on a long slide is huge, huge burden. No amount of money can hire the sort of help siblings can provide.

Also, once you die, siblings can provide each other roots. It's a lonely feeling when you say, "Rembember that place where..." and realize no one but you remembers anything connected to your life before you met your spouse.


Posted by: JKM | February 27, 2007 1:42 PM

I just had my second child 3 months ago. My older daughter is just great with her. When I first got pregnant unexpectedly, I appreciated alot of people assuaging my fears by telling me that by being so close together (they are 18 months apart) that they would be each other's friend. But my brother and I were 15 months apart and I can't stand him. He's a completely different person than I am and they only thing we have in common is our parents. So I have high hopes that the gender thing will work in their favor.

Besides that, I think the reason we aim to have more children is so that our genes live on into the future. As I was contemplating birth control, I seriously considered being steralized because I didn't want more than two children. That train came off of the track when my OB said that if one of my children were to die, would I ever want another? Steralization is hard to reverse in woemn. Heck yes, I still wanted two children to OUTLIVE me! So, I opted for an IUD, which are very safe and non hormonal by the way.

I now long for another child, so I am glad I didn't get steralized.....but it will be a while before I actively try. At least there won't be any accidents in the near future.....

Posted by: tlawrenceva | February 27, 2007 1:43 PM

CMAC, thanks for the response, that's so interesting - those are some of the things that make me think twice about whether I want a second child or not. I'm fascinated reading about the different relationships parents have.

On the caring for older parents, I wanted to respond to someone a while back who said you can't count on cousins for that sort of thing. I actually know several people who have taken responsibility for the care of aunts and uncles because their cousins were unable or unwilling for various reasons. I think in the end that's just another thing you can't predict how your children will respond as adults.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 1:46 PM

"His 2 SAH mom sisters thought he should pay 50% of the cost of Cadillac care because he was employed. He disagreed both that Cadillac care was an option and that, if it was, he should bear half the cost. He was raising 4 kids and supporting a SAH mom wife. They told him he didn't love his mother sufficiently. It was lovely."

Maybe his mom should have traded in her Cadillac for an automobile that wasn't so high-maintenance?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 1:47 PM

Foaminggnome--did I spell that right? :)--my husband and I are both only children and our daughter is, too. I had her when I was 38 years old. I miscarried our second child when I was 41. Once I did the "age" math and realized that even if I conceived by the age of 42, I'd be 60 years old when the second one started college, well, that more or less shut the farm down.

We did want a second child because we were concerned about our daughter being lonely and spoiled, but after it didn't work out, we decided to integrate her as much as possible into our community. We've had her enrolled in sports, dance, Girl Scouts, and 4-H--not all at the same time, necessarily--church activities, as well as school. At least two of the kids in her "playdate" gang are also only children, for similar reasons that she is.

Teachers and other adults have commented on how well she can carry on a conversation with grownups. We think, given our admittedly-biased observations, she's doing fine with kids her age, plus those a year or so older and younger. Having lived through and tried to live down the stereotype of only children has helped us avoid some of the pitfalls.

As for her not having help with us when we get older--I've had steadier work because I didn't have a second child. We're able to save more money for the future and hopefully that would mitigate some of the burden if something did happen to us.

I don't have any advice for you, just my experience to add to the discussion. Thanks for posting and giving us a chance to think about this!

Posted by: Midwest Missy | February 27, 2007 1:48 PM

"Don't expand your family unless you are completely comfortable with the idea."

Kudos to you, Suzy, for not being a cookie-cutter and jumping off the same bridge everyone else did.

Posted by: NoSibs | February 27, 2007 1:48 PM

i wholeheartedly agree that family size is an intensely personal decision. there is nothing that angers me more than strangers questioning family size of another stranger. so many untold stories in those decisions - many untold because they are very painful.

with that said, since you asked, i will say that i think a sibling WAS a great thing for my first (he's 25 months, his brother is 5). i have no idea if they'll be best friends or worst enemies. i think that the value of a sibling is in teaching the other child(ren) that they are not the center of the universe and that there are times that they must wait even if they are in need also.

obviously there are ways that onlys can gain this experience... but possibly not in the day-in/day-out moment to moment way that siblings can.

Posted by: becky | February 27, 2007 1:49 PM

"My husband and my daugher will be the ones to pick me up after that kind of loss."

SAHMbacktowork,

You sound really angry. Does this subject have particular resonance for you?

From my own experience, I think the above quotation sums up the weakness in your reasoning. If you are already expecting that your daughter will "pick you up" -- comfort you and assuage your pain -- you've already placed far too great an emotional burden on her.

It's not -- nor should it ever be -- your daughter's role to "pick you up" emotionally. You're the parent, and, even when you're older and she has to look after you, if you've held her so close that she over-identifies with your sadness or grief, she'll never be able to feel her own. She'll be absorbing your feelings to protect you while not allowing herself to acknowledge her own feelings.

I'm not saying you have to have another kid. Just don't, PLEASE, make her your friend, confidant, and main source of comfort. If you do, she'll never have an emotional life that she can call her own.

As I said, this is from real-life experience.

Posted by: A regular but no name today | February 27, 2007 1:52 PM

Great topic! I am pg with my first and only want one and would love it if my husband got "fixed" after this one so we'd be all set. My husband is an only and likes it, and 2 of my best friends are only-ies and well-adjusted and I just have one sibling that has given my parents an awful lot of trouble over the years, so I don't see a compelling reason to have more than one kid if you aren't really into it. Regarding Leslie's (by the way, is that LMS Leslie or another one posting?) "rosy" post - my parents are one of five and one of three. The one of five has 2 siblings that help with aging parents, the one of three has none. Of THEIR parents (all of whom had anywhere between 2 and 6 siblings), 2 had siblings that helped aging parents and 2 didn't, so it seems entirely like a 50/50 crapshoot whether or not you'll have help from your siblings with aging parents. As F04 mentioned earlier, having one kid guarantees they won't have anyone to split old-parent duty with, but it also guarantees you won't expend extra energy being mad at a sibling that doesn't help out at all. Because if you have a sibling and they don't help out, usually the person charged with caring for parents ends up being mad/resentful/sad that their sibling doesn't help, so then they're both the primary caregiver AND saddled with extra negative emotions. I think this is one of those situations that is really, really dependent on one's own personal experiences, and that probably drives a lot of folks' decision making about this.

Posted by: Hmmmmm | February 27, 2007 1:55 PM

I agree with Leslie's rosy picture post. I hated being an only child and think it has affected me negatively to this day (too self-centered, etc). However, everyone is different and the SAHM post was way over the top and defensive- Nobody knows how their kids will turn out or what they're feeling, particularly when they're young...

Posted by: JDS | February 27, 2007 1:57 PM

Suzy,

You're a kind and generous woman. Your husband was very lucky to find you.

Posted by: pittypat | February 27, 2007 1:58 PM

I come from a very large family. My partner and I definitely want one child; I tend to imagine us with two, but she very sensibly suggests that we should start with one and see how we do. And this has given me some things to think about--thanks.

I would never want more than two. I was fine with being in a large family when I was young, but came to dislike it intensely. I think the change occurred when I realized how much more support my friends got from their parents. Mine made sure I was cared for and they love me, but our relationship is very different from that of my partner and her parents.

As for the people blathering about incest and shared bedrooms, oh, please. I DO have (indirect) experience of incest and it has nothing to do with shared bedrooms for boys and girls. If your son and daughter are inclined that way then separate bedrooms are not the solution. Get the extra bedroom to avoid arguments, not illicit sex.

Posted by: Historian | February 27, 2007 2:02 PM

"I'm not saying you have to have another kid. Just don't, PLEASE, make her your friend, confidant, and main source of comfort. "

Excellent points. I know a number of "cool moms" who try to do this. It usually turns out in disaster!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:03 PM

"Just don't, PLEASE, make her your friend, confidant, and main source of comfort. If you do, she'll never have an emotional life that she can call her own."

I think this is an interesting question. My experience is quite different, though perhaps it's really just a question of degrees. My mother and I are extremely close, and I'd say that our relationship moves fluidly across the border between mother-daughter and friends-confidants. This didn't start happening until I was older - in college, I guess - and my mother has always been careful not to push things too far. When my father divorced her when I was in college, she did not confide in me about her emotional reactions and what was going on between them, and I'm glad of that. On the other hand, she has often shared with me her other struggles, and today she does rely on me for emotional support. But I don't feel at all resentful or as if she is smothering or keeping me from having my own life. I think that this relationship has also evolved with both of us fully a part of the evolution, and when I was already an adult, and maybe that's the difference. I can see it being really different if she had unilaterally tried to create that relationship, or had done so when I was too young to know how to respond and help establish the boundaries.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 2:03 PM

Telling anybody how many children to have, or not to have, is really silly.

Personally, I have always found it disengenuous that a celibate man (Pope) tries to dictate how many children a couple should have (as many as possible!). Particularly as he certainly never volunteers to help pay for feeding, clothing, educating or sheltering any of them.

Do what is best for you. It's all a crap shoot anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:05 PM

Re: incest

My husband shared a bedroom with his older brother (11 year difference). His brother molested him.

Of course, it turns out there was an uncle who molested the girls and given some of the anecdotes I've heard, I suspect he was grooming the elder boy to either molest him, or to have a partner.

Creepy, either way.

Posted by: side-bar comment | February 27, 2007 2:07 PM

SAHMbacktowork,

You sound really angry. Does this subject have particular resonance for you?

From my own experience, I think the above quotation sums up the weakness in your reasoning. If you are already expecting that your daughter will "pick you up" -- comfort you and assuage your pain -- you've already placed far too great an emotional burden on her.

It's not -- nor should it ever be -- your daughter's role to "pick you up" emotionally. You're the parent, and, even when you're older and she has to look after you, if you've held her so close that she over-identifies with your sadness or grief, she'll never be able to feel her own. She'll be absorbing your feelings to protect you while not allowing herself to acknowledge her own feelings.

I'm not saying you have to have another kid. Just don't, PLEASE, make her your friend, confidant, and main source of comfort. If you do, she'll never have an emotional life that she can call her own.

As I said, this is from real-life experience.

Posted by: A regular but no name today | February 27, 2007 01:52 PM

I'm actually not an angry person at all. I do get angry when I'm told repeatedly what an awful parent I am by not having more than 1 child. And, yes, Leslie's comments, and others, made me angry today.

Of course I would go to my adult child for support in cases such as my parents dying- I meant that my husband and daughter are my #1 support system. You know what- I was MY MOM'S support when my grandmother died. It was infinitely harder for her and I love the fact that we are close enough for her to come to me in her time of need. We helped each other. What's wrong with that?

I have placed no great burden on her- I discipline the same as those with multiple kids, I don't depend on her for my emotional life (she's 3!).

I'm talking about ADULT child-parent realtionships. If she's only 10 when my mom dies, then obviously the situation would be different. Are you saying that I shouldn't be friends or confidantes with my daughter when she's grown?

I've planned to be less of a burden on her because she's the only child. With only one child I am able to max out my 401K and other savings accounts so I won't be too much of a burden on her! I have a will and instructions all set to go for her so that it's as painless as possible should the situation arise.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 27, 2007 2:08 PM

Lots of comments here and everyone (mostly) is being nice. This really hit home. I am pregnant (Surprise!) with an almost 6 yr. old. We had decided we were really good with one and now this. Many emotions.

Posted by: NC MOM | February 27, 2007 2:09 PM

I don't think Leslie meant to be insulting with the "only" post. There are downsides to every choice and I think she was just trying to illustrate that.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 2:11 PM

I do apologize for mixing up the posts of working mother and SAHMbacktowork (though her first post about finding backup babysitters was without her name).

I still think working mother's post was a little bit snarky, mainly the "it's not his problem" part, though on second reading I see she says she is sympathetic:
_______________________
"Your employer may expect that you have back-up plans for these situations. It's not his problem that your husband is out of town, that you don't have family nearby and that your child is sick. I'm not unsympathetic, but you need to see it from your employer's point of view and not make him or her out to be the bad guy. You may think the answer is changing jobs (and it might be), but it may also be that you devise back up plans for situations such as this."
___________________


Upon re-reading, I think that SAHMbacktowork's first post didn't convey the work that went into building her network of babysitters: "just compile a list"; "just posted an ad". She said it took a little while to meet everyone. She didn't say in the original post that she had checked references. It was hard for me to imagine a very thorough check resulting in a list of 7-8 sitters taking "a little while." I think it would take me close to a year to build a list that big. Partly that's because we've moved around a fair amount and partly because No. Virginia is such a transient community, and that makes credible reference-checking harder. If the college students aren't from the local area, that makes it harder too to get references.

SAHMbacktowork, I do apologize for my part in implying that you would leave a sick child willy-nilly. Your subsequent posts indicate greater follow-through than your first post did. I do realize you were giving helpful suggestions, but I read your first post as suggesting that building a list like this is easy to achieve if you put your nose to the grindstone. I'm sorry if I misread you and this isn't what you intended to imply at all. I don't think foamgnome was being irresponsible in not having or feeling comfortable with that kind of back-up arrangement. I felt her concerns were being dismissed too readily. It takes time to build trusts/networks in a community, and I found that having a child put me in a whole new community made up of immediately local parents rather than work contacts. Single and DINK friends who also may be new to the area aren't necessarily great leads to find back-up childcare.
_________________________
"just compile a list of babysitters in the area for those emergencies. I have a list of 5 people in a sick emergency, a list of 7-8 in a snow day/school day off emergency.

I just posted an ad and got a alot of responses from college students who don't have classes everyday. I also have found a retired nurse! What a coup! If she is severely sick I would take 1 day, of course. BUt the other days, they just need rest.

It takes a little while to actaully meet everyone and keep the list running, but I try to rotate who we use on date nights so we maintain a relationship with each person on the list."

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | February 27, 2007 2:11 PM

Have not had time to read all the comments, but wanted to note that my SO of 13 years is an only child. I want to be clear that I can totally understand having one kid, especially with the demands of childrearing today. Heck, I know I couldn't even handle one!

However, one drawback to being an only child presented itself when my SO's father passed away from cancer in his early 60's. His mom is Asian, and his dad was a good old southern boy with very conservative ideas about women - his little Asian treasure was not "allowed" to work. Since this is a military family that always lived in military areas, there was never a shortage of Asian women in similar situations for support and friendship. Even though her English is pretty good, she is very sheltered in terms of taking care of ANYTHING outside of cooking and socializing. Additionally, the dad left commercial property behind that needed to be managed.

The bottom line is: as an only child, my SO had to step up and take care of about 95% of running her household and business.

Just a consideration when pondering the only child concept - make darn sure BOTH of you are well versed in all the bureaucratic and financial elements of running the household, should one of pass away earlier than expected! My SO has frequently said he would like to have a sibling to share the burden!

Posted by: ALP | February 27, 2007 2:12 PM

I am coming late to this discussion but wanted to say, great post, and great comments. I think it boils down to your gut feeling - I've always heard you'll never regret the kids you have, only the ones you didn't have . . . and only you can know if you'll have that sense of regret.

I'm 36 and due with #3 in a couple of months, have a 4y.o. and a 2y.o., and in some ways feel like we are crazy but as my due date approaches, and despite 37 knocking on my door, I haven't ruled out the possibility of a 4th child (you should hear the arguments against having 3 kids - it's interesting the parallels to the arguments against having an only child).

By the way, we took a trip to Disney World when #2 was 23 months old, #1 was 4, and it was great. We are not at all wealthy (!!!) and this was a big expense for us, but it goes to show that you can still take nice vacations even with more than one child. :) Of course, future vacations will be more modest - no more flying for a while!

Good luck with your decision!

Posted by: PT lawyer | February 27, 2007 2:15 PM

When I was in college, I once stole a pink flamingo off a lawn. Does that count?

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 2:16 PM

"Daughters are daughters for life"

Right, ANS is a good example of a daughter for life.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:16 PM

I'll never make it to Disney World. What am I missing?

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 2:22 PM

"I've always heard you'll never regret the kids you have"

Let's ask the parents of serial killers. Really, it seems like a bunch of posters today fell off of a turnip truck on the way into town.... Today must be a record for homespun cliches.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:25 PM

Fof4- Absolutely nothing. it's a crowded expensive pit

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:25 PM

Emily, next thing you know you are going to be arrested for throwing coffee at one of the maniac drivers around here.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 2:25 PM

Right on!

Posted by: To: londonmom | February 27, 2007 2:26 PM

Aren't individuals that are selfish, too self-centered, etc. the products of bad parenting and not necessarily a direct result of single childhood?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:28 PM

"I think it boils down to your gut feeling - I've always heard you'll never regret the kids you have, only the ones you didn't have . . . and only you can know if you'll have that sense of regret. "

Tell that to my now-divorced friend. She wanted 4 kids. Her husband wanted two. She badgered him into having a third and he left within 2 years. He was ready to move out of the diapers and toddler stage and talk about something other than poop. She wasn't listening to his concerns and assumed they'd disappear when he held his third. No one looks at her youngest child and admits to herself or others that she regrets having him or her. That doesn't mean that, if in doubt, go ahead, is always, or even often, the best decision for the family.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:28 PM

The fact that "Another Librarianmom" can devise a good way to create a back-up system for snow days and routine illnesses proves that it is doable. It may not be easy, but who said parenthood was easy. Good for you "Another Librarianmom" at demonstrating what a great parent and worker you are.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:29 PM

"I am pregnant (Surprise!) with an almost 6 yr. old"

Longest pregnancy in history. You must be huge !! LOL.

Posted by: ha ha | February 27, 2007 2:29 PM

"I can see it being really different if she had unilaterally tried to create that relationship, or had done so when I was too young to know how to respond and help establish the boundaries."

Yes, Megan, this is a factor.

In my case, I became my mother's confidant and support person at a very young age. Ultimately, it wasn't until after she died that I began to learn and understand what this kind of relationship had done to me.

Years of therapy, still ongoing.

Posted by: A regular but no name today | February 27, 2007 2:30 PM

Emily, next thing you know you are going to be arrested for throwing coffee at one of the maniac drivers around here.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 02:25 PM

"McMissile Mom 2 - From Flamingo to Missiles"

Posted by: CMAC | February 27, 2007 2:30 PM

Emily, your punishment should be to display that pink flamingo in your front yard until somebody steals it from you.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 2:30 PM

I mean "SAHMbacktowork" as opposed to the Another Librariarn. It is more constructive to come up with solutions than to criticise others.

Posted by: oops... | February 27, 2007 2:31 PM

Father of 4

"I'll never make it to Disney World. What am I missing? "

Bragging rights only. Don' t give it another thought


Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:31 PM

Wow comments re sick kids. My mom was always a SAHM and when we were sick I remember her taking care of whatever it was she needed to take care of-so if I was old enuf I was home alone most of the day.
Walked around for three days on a sprained ankle before I got taken to the dr for a cast (to my knee) cause mom thought I was faking.
Mom wasn't home after school til dinnertime either, ever, that I remember, I was taken cae of by older siblings.

Posted by: atlmom | February 27, 2007 2:32 PM

"In my case, I became my mother's confidant and support person at a very young age."

Wow, it sounds like that was something very difficult and unfair for you - good for you for addressing it in therapy though. I wish you the best in your healing.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 2:33 PM

Personally, I have always found it disengenuous that a celibate man (Pope) tries to dictate how many children a couple should have (as many as possible!). Particularly as he certainly never volunteers to help pay for feeding, clothing, educating or sheltering any of them.

anon at 2:05: you clearly have no understanding of Catholic doctrine if you believe this. The Pope/church does not tell you that you should have as many children as possible. Birth control - natural family planning - is generally taught, and is encouraged.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:35 PM

Father of 4, as a native of Florida and former frequenter of the aforementioned ROUS theme park, you are missing out on slow educational rides that were outdated in the 80s! The experience of being harassed, or harassing character workers is one of a kind! Paying $4 for a soda is nothing to miss out on either- it really makes you appreciate how far you can make a dollar stretch in expensive DC! The most edifying moment is when you realize you saved up and spent over $60 for a ticket so you could stand in lines most of the day or go shopping at overpriced stores. The ambiance of dining in the beautiful but noisy Cinderella's Castle is great... but you can find better fare a half hour away at a local dining establishment. You want a good fun vacation for the family, just travel off the beaten path and find an ethnic restaurant instead of going to Epcot and paying an arm and a leg for a mass produced meal. That aside, it really is a great place and the entertainment is top notch- since you can see a number of shows in the same day.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 2:36 PM

Sometimes one is all you get. Be happy with that I say! There is waaay too much guilt being inflicted on moms who dont have the *normal* 2 point 5 children....some of us only bear one child (or less) despite our *decisions* to try for more. I am exceedingly proud of my daughter and the fact that her 40K annual college tuition is being paid in full by me!

Posted by: Momof1 | February 27, 2007 2:37 PM

Slightly off topic - http://www.cnn.com/2007/EDUCATION/02/27/self.centered.students.ap/index.html

This talks about how self centered college students are. Not saying that it relates to number of children in a family, more to the move to boosting children's self-esteem.

Posted by: anon | February 27, 2007 2:37 PM

The Pope/church does not tell you that you should have as many children as possible. Birth control - natural family planning - is generally taught, and is encouraged.

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 02:35 PM

Looking at many Catholic families, one can see that natural family planning is not exactly an effective form of birth control. Please if the church had their way they'd have as many little catholics as they could get their hands on.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:38 PM

fo4: I guess WDW is just fun. DD has not been to WDW. She was on the Disney Cruise. But I would like to take her while she is still in the character loving phase. I keep hearing that the Princess phase will start some time in year 3. So far, DD has not been interested in the Princess except for the crowns, tiarras, shoes and wands. She also insists that she is the queen and not the princess. But anyway, it is just a lot of fun to see the magic in their eyes when they see their favorite characters come to life. There is also a lot of high priced garb and some educational things. I don't think of WDW as being the end all of all vacations. But it is definitely a memory building one for me and I would like to share that with DD. This summer we are going to colonial williamsburg and in summer 2008, I hope to take her to Prince Edward Island Canada for the 100 th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables. In 2009, I have WDW slated on my list of vacations.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 2:39 PM

Can we leave the Pope-bashing for the On Faith forum? seriously, it's offensive and unnecessary.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:40 PM

The Gnome Liberation Front and the Expedia (I think) "roaming gnome" campaign were both inspired by the movie "Amelie," a great flick, IMHO.

Posted by: Mona | February 27, 2007 2:42 PM

"It is more constructive to come up with solutions than to criticise others."

but it's not nearly as much fun.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:43 PM

"Emily, next thing you know you are going to be arrested for throwing coffee at one of the maniac drivers around here."

Actually, I don't think that's possible. I am a really peaceful driver. Want to cut in front of me? Go right ahead. No skin off my nose. Want to flip me the bird or yell? No problem. I just turn the radio up and listen to John Denver. Driving maniacs just don't get a rise out of me. Life is too short to get upset over traffic. I also have a very short commute by car, so I am never stuck in traffic for more than 10 minutes.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 2:43 PM

The Pope/church does not tell you that you should have as many children as possible. Birth control - natural family planning - is generally taught, and is encouraged.

And plenty of Catholic families only have 1 or 2 kids, because their parents ignore church teaching. Without me saying they're right or wrong, the point is that it IS happening widely in the US.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:43 PM

The Pope/church does not tell you that you should have as many children as possible.

Really?

Due to Italy's declining birth rate, the pope has asked Italians to have more children

Posted by: Nothing wrong with having ONE! | February 27, 2007 2:43 PM

foam: Is WDW really all that fun for kids? I never went, and I never really got into the hype of it. If I were going to an amusement park, it'd be one with wicked coasters, not teacups and silly characters--and I felt this way as a kid too. I know the BF wants to take our future kids there, since he's been and all, but I guess I'm just not that enthused about it. But I'd be willing to make the trip if kids are really into it. Do you think they have a really good, memorable time?

Posted by: Mona | February 27, 2007 2:45 PM

Want to hear something offensive - millions of people dying and children being orphaned by AIDS in Africa and the "Church" refusing to endorse the use of condoms. Priests molesting and raping little boys and the "Church" covering up for them. Priests stealing the hard earned dollars from parishoners and the "Church" preaching forgiveness. The Pope living in a gilded castle in silken robes while millions worldwide starve and die for lack of medication and clean water. The condemnation and exclusion from the "Church" of divorced people while the influential are given "annullments". The condemnation and exclusion from the "Church" of gays just to list a few. The Pope is a big boy, I think he can take a little heat.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:47 PM

"I am pregnant (Surprise!) with an almost 6 yr. old."

OUCH! Poor thing? Maybe it's time to consider inducing labor?

Posted by: To NC Mom | February 27, 2007 2:47 PM

"I just turn the radio up and listen to John Denver."

Ewwww, Emily. Some admissions shouldn't even be made in an anonymous forum :>)

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 27, 2007 2:48 PM

"The Pope/church does not tell you that you should have as many children as possible."

Of course he does. Isn't birth control prohbited in the Catholic religion? The point of sex is to procreate within a marriage, according to their doctrine. It is Catholic dogma.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:48 PM

Yikes! Still not great at the formatting in this forum. It seems that my quotations of others' comments were read as my statements.

I definitely did not devise a back-up system. I mixed up the posts of working mother and SAHMbacktowork and was trying to sort things out. In quoting others in my last response, I guess it looked like I was saying it's easy to set up a backup network. I definitely don't think it's easy. I'm pretty risk-averse and found it very difficult to let go enough to have my kids in part-time care with a regular licensed homecare provider after thorough reference checking. Finding backup care seems even more daunting.

Having moved (too much), I imagine it will take me a long, long time to find babysitters. My new community is less transient than I am, so I hope this will make it easier than when I was in No. Virginia.

My point was that I thought foamgnome was being attacked/snarked for not having a backup system in place. I thought people were saying to her that it's easy and that she was lacking for not having done so. Working and parenting definitely is not easy. If it were, I wouldn't be reading this blog in the first place.

If you're going to snark me, at least sign your name. I did both in my original post and in my apology to SAHMbacktowork.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | February 27, 2007 2:48 PM

I am laughing at the WDW Q's. DH is taking DD next month (his parents are in Fla. and take one trip with each grandkid, about the time they're 5). DD is in total princess phase, which you'd think would be good. Except DD is also deathly afraid of people dressing up like animals or cartoon characters -- runs away every time Chuck E. Cheese makes an appearance, and spent all of "Dora the Explorer Live" on my lap. Can't WAIT to see how this one turns out!

Posted by: Laura | February 27, 2007 2:49 PM

Just wanted to make a quick comment about personalities and sibling status. I don't really think they have that much to do with each other. Personalities, as all of you with any exposure to young children know, develop quite quickly - some traits are apparent almost immediately!

My husband is the oldest of 4 children and, though I would not call him narcissistic, he is always analyzing and reanalyzing what other people think of him and why someone didn't respond to an email and whether someone was quiet because they didn't like him. Two of his siblings and his mother also have some problems with social interactions. I think for them it is somewhat hard-wired.

On the other hand, my brother's wife, the only child of an only child, is one of the most gracious and generous and sweet people I've ever met.

Generalizations are not worth much. If you want to blame your parents or siblings for how you turned out, go ahead, but I'm not buying it unless there was true abuse or neglect involved.

Posted by: MaryB | February 27, 2007 2:49 PM

I went as a child and have fond memories. DD hasn't been there yet but she loves to look at her character book from the cruise. It is an album of her and the characters. She loves to say hi to them and wave. It is really funny because she is crying in a good number of the pictures. But she seems to think fondly on the pictures now. DD took about 3 or 4 days to get used to being with the characters. At the end, she seemed to really enjoy some of them. I think she will like the whole theme park experience. She also seems to enjoy dressing up like a Princess and I think she will get a big kick at the Princess breakfasts and teas. She already seems to like rides. She has been to the Jersey shore and Sesame Place. So she has been on a number of kiddie rides. But WDW is very expensive as a vacation but it is definitely more then just a theme park. It is a Disney experience.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 2:50 PM

"The Pope living in a gilded castle in silken robes while millions worldwide starve and die for lack of medication and clean water. "

That's the part that irks me. Jesus didn't live like that. Why should the Pope?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:51 PM

My wife and I use Natural Family Planning. We have sex. We have kids. The plan is quite natural.

The trick about NFP is, for many of those who practice it, will increase their dedication toward family life.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 2:51 PM

"Ewwww, Emily. Some admissions shouldn't even be made in an anonymous forum :>)"

LOL - Thankfully, this is an anomymous forum. And John Denver is definitely one of my secret guilty pleasures. I sing along at the top of my lungs as well. Very therapeutic.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 2:53 PM

As for the 'daycare produces sick kids' comments, my older son wasn't in school til 2 1/2. And really, never gets sick. He is almost five now and probably hasd been sick 10 days or fewer hiw whole life. He brings things home, and the rest of us get sick. It is the luck of the draw, as both kids were nursed til 13 mos(no I'm not trying to start that discussion)

Posted by: atlmom | February 27, 2007 2:53 PM

ever hear of the work of Catholic Charities? It's one of the most efficient charities around and does its work with little fanfare and publicity. Look 'em up, snarky.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 2:55 PM

Anon at 2:51, if more people lived like Jesus, I bet the world would be a better place. Yet you have the Hank Hills of the world who criticize and make fun of granola-eating hippies who emulate his "savior" far more than he does.

Posted by: Mona | February 27, 2007 2:56 PM

When asked every year what we wanted to do for vacation, my brothers and I responded that we wanted to go skiing in Colorado. (Not surprising that two of the three of us live in CO now, and the third will likely be here within a year or two.) My mother still feels guilty never taking us to Disneyland, but we never wanted to go.

Just wanted to second (third, fourth?) the sentiment that BOTH parents need to be on board with the decision to add another, regardless of what number it is. I'm sitting here at my desk having Braxton-Hicks at week 38 for number 3. I was sure I wanted three--that ghost baby was out there--husband not so sure, and it caused a lot of tension between us last summer during the first trimester. He was concerned mostly that we'd have another boy, who would have a 50/50 chance of having an inherited immune deficiency that the males in my family can get. (Some one can jump on me about how it's irresponsible of me to spread my bad genes, but I think if you ask my brother and son, they'll tell you they're glad to be alive. They have monthly IV treatments and otherwise lead completely normal lives. And no one is guaranteed a healthy child, even if your genes are perfect.) There was never concern about whether or not he'd be loved--the other posters are right, your love for your kids is not a finite amount that you have to divide by the total number of children you have. BUT, BOTH of you do have to feel right about it.

Posted by: niner | February 27, 2007 2:57 PM

natural family planning got me three siblings! I've always had to take the pill for medical reasons, but even if I didn't, I would. I can only afford two and that is all I am going to have. Although I have never felt pressure from the pope to have more. Maybe I should bring it up next time he comes over for dinner.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 2:57 PM

Well since this is anonymous. We are bad Catholics and use birth control. But respect families that choose NFP. We just don't wan to take chances.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 2:59 PM

Hey, Emily,

Rocky Mountain HIIIIIIIIIIGH...Colorado...

Right there car singing with you, sister!

Posted by: niner | February 27, 2007 2:59 PM

Foamgnome,

I've been reading the comments off and on all day and I wanted to thank you for your post. For me, I really think we're going to stop at one child for all of the reasons you listed, even though I don't have my husband completely sold on the idea. I just don't think I'd be physically able to go through another infancy period--our son is not a good sleeper either.

We also just went through a bout of illnesses and I'm just curious for those of you that used back-up babysitters--how are you able to get someone on such short notice? Often times we won't know our son is sick until he is up in the middle of the night crying. I can't imagine how we would get a babysitter for that day so we can both go to work, even if we wanted to. We have a hard enough time getting babysitters when we can plan weeks in advance.

Hang in there--I really think only children will be the wave of the future.

Posted by: exhaustedmom | February 27, 2007 2:59 PM

Emily, the words "I'm leaving on a jet plane" are now stuck in my head.

Don't know when I'll be home again! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 3:00 PM

Anon at 2:51, if more people lived like Jesus, I bet the world would be a better place. Yet you have the Hank Hills of the world who criticize and make fun of granola-eating hippies who emulate his "savior" far more than he does.

Huh, he's a cartoon?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:00 PM

"Looking at many Catholic families, one can see that natural family planning is not exactly an effective form of birth control. "

You're presuming that those families are using NFP and it's failing. What evidence of that do you have, other than that they have a lot of kids. Perhaps they're not using NFP because they WANT a lot of kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:01 PM

ever hear of the work of Catholic Charities? It's one of the most efficient charities around and does its work with little fanfare and publicity. Look 'em up, snarky.

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 02:55 PM

We won't help prevent the transmission of AIDS, but we will certianly hold your hand while you die. so, so kind.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:01 PM

ever hear of the work of Catholic Charities? It's one of the most efficient charities around and does its work with little fanfare and publicity. Look 'em up, snarky.

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 02:55 PM

We won't help prevent the transmission of AIDS, but we will certianly hold your hand while you die. so, so kind.

They do other things for people. Not everyone has to fight aids, if they did, there would be no one left to build clean water, help orphans, feed the poor,etc. Please get over your hate.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:04 PM

I am not Catholic, but I'm done ignoring the ignorant comments being posted anonymously. If it's not appropriate to insult Muslims on this blog - and I fully agree it is not -- then it's not appropriate to go on and on and on in multiple posts insulting the faith of many in society, including our guest blogger.

Since I tend to be cynical (you're shocked, I know), I also doubt that our anonymous poster is doing a dang-blasted thing to assist the poor, the homeless or the HIV-positive in the world.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 27, 2007 3:04 PM

"My point was that I thought foamgnome was being attacked/snarked for not having a backup system in place."

I neither attacked foamgnome nor was snarky. Since when is presenting a difference in opinion snarky? I only presented an alternative view and having been in this situation, I am sympathetic. However, there will be snow days and children in daycare will get sick (and FYI--there are plenty of studies show that babies/toddlers in daycare get approximately 30-40% more illnesses than children not in daycare). These are not unexpected so from a supervisor's point of view, it can be annoying when an employee takes off for these reasons. Is it better that the supervisor not comment when an employee takes off entitled sick days for whatever (valid) reason he or she wants? Sure. I prefer a "family friendly" environment too. But employers prefer organized employees who can plan for these things.

And like everyone else, I am entitled to my opinion. If you think I am being snarky, shame on you.

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 3:05 PM

Their seems to be so much concern regarding care of aging parents/care of aging self by children. Is long term care insurance figured into this?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:08 PM

Mona, it's just fun to make fun of hippies though. Back when I wore a uniform a hippy called me a baby killer. Being of such quick wit, I replied that I had not killed as many babies as you pro abortion folks. That shut him up.
Seriously though, I have friends who qualify as hippies, and see nothing wrong with being peaceful. I am glad they get to live their peaceful lives. It is because of people willing to step up and defend them that they have and will hopefully continue to enjoy a peaceful life. The violent hippies are the ones I have a problem with...
Really though, if more people did live like Jesus, the world would be a better place... but what this has to do with the price of soda at Disney, or raising kids is beyond me.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 3:11 PM

Can't resist -- I've only been once, but found Walt Disney World to be the most incredibly fun vacation I've ever had. Fun just for fun's sake. Expensive, yes, but I thought it was worth every penny. Think your youngest kid needs to be about four, though, or the experience is overwhelming and just too much.

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 3:11 PM

"Almost heaven, West Virginia..."

Posted by: TO Emily | February 27, 2007 3:11 PM

Shame on us for calling you out on the flaws in both your presentation and the substance of your initial comment? That's chutzpah.

You're not ENTITLED to guilt-trip a guest blogger because you're having a bad day as a manager. Those who express differences of opinion on this blog in a reasonably civil manner, and foamgnome is one of the best at this, don't get the reaction you got. Look in the mirror and figure out why or get on with your entitled self.

Posted by: to working mother | February 27, 2007 3:11 PM

If it's not appropriate to insult Muslims on this blog - and I fully agree it is not -- then it's not appropriate to go on and on and on in multiple posts insulting the faith of many in society, including our guest blogger

--Not insulting the faith, simply stating true, irrefutable facts about the organization in question and indicating the offense personally taken by the explicit, expressed views of said organization. Since when is it insulting to disagree.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:13 PM

"Their seems to be so much concern regarding care of aging parents/care of aging self by children. Is long term care insurance figured into this?"

My mom spent two years looking after my grandmother (my father's mother) before Grandma had to go into a nursing home (no mobility, advancing Alzheimers, et al). Since then, she has repeatedly told my sister and me that under no circumstances are we to go for her what she did for GM. Mom is extremely independent and private and it would be agonizing for her to depend on us in that way. She's already bought long-term care insurance and arranged her legal affairs such that if she starts a decline, she'll be taken care of without financial cost to us.

Flannery O'Connor wrote two very good short stories - The Geranium and Judgement Day - about an elderly father who is taken against his wishes from the rural South to live with his daughter in New York.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 27, 2007 3:15 PM

"simply stating true, irrefutable facts about the organization in question"

I hope you have good health insurance and that it has an excellent mental health benefits component suitable for treating your delusions.

Posted by: to anon at 3:13 | February 27, 2007 3:20 PM

JerseyGirl forgot to tell you -- loved your post! Write more!

Posted by: Leslie | February 27, 2007 3:20 PM

Oh, to follow up on the WDW thing: Where else in the whole world can you see people from all over the world spend fortunes to go eat at a restaurant that represents their little part of the world instead of seeing something new. Being able to observe that sociological experiment in action is worth it! LOL It is just like Americans seeking out a McDonalds in a foreign country.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 3:21 PM

I have two brothers and a sister. My older brother has one child (now married) and my sister has a son who is getting married this year. If my wife and I have a child this year or early next year, and my nephews do as well, they will have a cousin as young as their own children!

It's almost as if I've skipped a generation in my personal family; had we followed the typical timeline on children, we'd be also looking at marrying off our oldest about now!

Posted by: John | February 27, 2007 3:22 PM

I hope you have good health insurance and that it has an excellent mental health benefits component suitable for treating your delusions.

Posted by: to anon at 3:13 | February 27, 2007 03:20 PM

--If you can come up with actual data refuting anything that I've said, I'll eat my words. But you can't so you resort to name calling.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:22 PM

Their seems to be so much concern regarding care of aging parents/care of aging self by children. Is long term care insurance figured into this?

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 03:08 PM


Thank you for bringing that up!! There have been many comments on those concerned that onlies are too burdened, emotionally or whatever...

Is it better to "burden" more than 1 child? What's the difference in burdening 1 or 2?

Isn't it our responsibility to take care of ourselves?

I'm not in the camp that believes we raise our children to turn around and take care of us in our old age. Support, yes, but I would never dream of asking my kid to move me into her home while she's trying to raise her own kids and live her own life!
I would love to be in a home/assisted living facility close to her, but I would never want my child to change my diaper. Yes, I changed her diapers- because I am her mom. It will be her job to change her kids' diapers!

I am a young mom and my child will be out of the house by the time my parents are elderly. Thankfully I won't have to make choices between my child and my parents should it come to that. But both of my parents have arranged to be taken care of (they are also both remarried, so that REALLY brings up a lot of other issues- do you move the spouse in too? Are you responsible for paying for them as well?)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:24 PM

I have one five year old DD. She is funny, sweet, and cute. She is the light of our lives but not the center of the universe.

Yes, life will be complete without giving her a younger sibling. We give her love, books, toys, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian, and her first airplane ride last year to Niagara Falls. This year we are trying to replace a car so we will take a beach trip to Cape May instead. Cape May, NJ is beautiful and full of young children.

I knew from the moment she was born I wanted one. Every one is happy except for mother in law and she wants a blond child and my husband and I both are dark. She also says my child's speech is not clear but she can not hear anyone else's. Her doctor begs her to get a hearing aid annually but she says her hearing is fine.

Got to go do some more work and get ready for her one class this week dance. She is the smallest but don't tell her that she is a big girl and ready to dance. She tells me I am beautiful but that I am the smallest mom (usually I am). I can live with that and so can she.

Posted by: oneDD | February 27, 2007 3:25 PM

"Since then, she has repeatedly told my sister and me that under no circumstances are we to go for her what she did for GM. Mom is extremely independent and private and it would be agonizing for her to depend on us in that way."

My mother jokingly told me once that when the time comes, I should take the rings off her fingers and put her on an ice floe. The exact instructions are spelled out a bit more tactfully in her will...

Posted by: niner | February 27, 2007 3:26 PM

Hank Hill is a...a...CARTOON?! NO! Does that mean John Redcorn is also a cartoon? Cause I totally have a crush on him! NOOOO!

::rolls eyes:: I KNOW Hank Hill is a cartoon. But who among us doesn't know at least one Hank Hill?

"I thought you said family values were back at the Hill House?"

"They are."

"I donno, Hank, her hairstyle looks awfully pro-choice."

Chris, how in the world would that comment have shut up that hippie? If it were me, I'd have pointed out that abortion doesn't kill babies...it kills fetuses. ::ducks and runs::

Posted by: Mona | February 27, 2007 3:29 PM

Also, just because parents aren't a *financial* burden on their families doesn't mean that a day may not come when the kid(s) has/have Power of Attorney and therefore are calling the shots with regards to care.

Posted by: Aging parents | February 27, 2007 3:29 PM

Is it better that the supervisor not comment when an employee takes off entitled sick days for whatever (valid) reason he or she wants?

I actually think that I should be able to use my days for whatever I want. Case in point, last week me and my daughter ate some of the oscar myer chicken that was recalled. I got sick (she didn't) but I took her to the doctor to make sure that I knew what to look for and for advice.

I earned my vacation and sick days and I will take them when she is sick or when I am sick, or for St. Patrick's day or just because I want to watch soap opera day!

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 3:30 PM

oneDD:

Tell MIL to adopt a blond child. ;) Cape May is awesome; make sure to go on a boat tour. Seeing dolphins out on the water was much cooler than any amusement park I've ever been to!

Posted by: niner | February 27, 2007 3:30 PM

Dang, that care for the elderly struck home. My mom always thought I would take her in when she got too old to take care of herself and her husband dies. My mother in law has the same idea. What on earth am I to do- as neither could afford care when they get up there in years??? I can not imagine trying to provide for them when I already struggled to provide for myself and make it on my own.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 3:31 PM

I actually don't have sick days. All mine is lumped together under vacation, but I suppose you get the point.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 3:31 PM

You caught me on a bad grammer day. Pregnant and already have a six year old. Better?

Posted by: NC MOM | February 27, 2007 3:33 PM

"I earned my vacation and sick days and I will take them when she is sick or when I am sick, or for St. Patrick's day or just because I want to watch soap opera day!"

here's the sort of employee that makes the US the land of opportunity.


Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:34 PM

Mona, NO!!! You've just started a battle. I would have your back, but I gotta get home for dinner. Good luck!

Posted by: Meesh | February 27, 2007 3:34 PM

Mona, do you not mean cut and run? LMAO. Sorry, could not resist that. Peace.

Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2007 3:35 PM

----I've always heard you'll never regret the kids you have, only the ones you didn't have .----

I keep hearing this too and it's terrible, untrue advice. I've lived all over the US and overseas and met many people who have regretted having some or all of their children.

Plus, there's always adoption or raising foster children. All children deserve loving parents and stable homes.

Posted by: MBA Mom | February 27, 2007 3:37 PM

here's the sort of employee that makes the US the land of opportunity.

Don't quite understand your comment, but I assume that it is snarky. I'll also assume that you don't use your vacation time that is given to you? Right!

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 3:38 PM

"here's the sort of employee that makes the US the land of opportunity."

An employee who feels entitled to the benefits that are part of her compensation? How shameful, indeed!

Posted by: niner | February 27, 2007 3:38 PM

Thanks niner. Also, just so you know, listeria is a serious illness for small children, the elderly or pregnant women.

My daughter is small and I am trying to get pregnant, so I went to the doctor. Thankfully, I have a boss who understands that and doesn't think I am a slacker.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 3:41 PM

Chris, good one! Though I think you mean...you know what? I am NOT going there. It's just too crude. Yours was good enough. ;-)

Posted by: Mona | February 27, 2007 3:41 PM

My daughter is an only and will stay an only. As one of three children, and as someone who is very close to my siblings, I ALWAYS thought I'd have more than one child. We started trying to get pregnant again when dd was almost two, although I admit the decision was based more on the theory that siblings are important than an overwhelming desire to have another child. When she was 5 and we still hadn't conceived, we visited my doctor. Both of us had our plumbing checked out and nothing was found wanting. She suggested we see a fertility specialist.

With the referral in hand, we sat down for a heart-to-heart, and found to our mutual relief that we BOTH were having second thoughts about that second child. We decided to skip seeing a specilist and continue trying the natural way, and never got pregnant. A couple of years ago, we decided to make it "official" and my husband had a vasectomy. By then, both of us were firmly in the one-child camp and neither of us wanted to take a chance getting pregnant at our ages (mid-40s).

Our little family works for us, especially since my husband is self-employed and has NO schedule. We live day-to-day (sometimes hour-to-hour). It's not the right decision for everyone and I would never dream to criticize the choices of those who have large families (and there are LOTS of those in our Mormon-centric neighborhood). I loved what SAHMbacktowork said about not being haunted by that ghost-child. I felt the same way, and that feeling got stronger the older DD got.

Foamgnome, I always like your contributions to our discussion and I'm glad you weighed in here.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | February 27, 2007 3:42 PM

Scarry is right: "I actually don't have sick days. All mine is lumped together under vacation, but I suppose you get the point."

Anonymous at 3:34 PM snarked: "here's the sort of employee that makes the US the land of opportunity."

Days off, leave, vacation -- whatever they call it, it's part of an employee's job compensation package. Employers offer this sort of time off presumably on the assumption that employees will take it. So it's NOT cheating the employer to take the allotted time off. If you don't use all of your time off (and it doesn't roll over for future possible use), it's the equivalent of taking a voluntary pay cut, or making a non-tax-free charitable donation to your employer.

Posted by: catlady | February 27, 2007 3:42 PM

Here's an interesting note on how family size can affect society. If Italy's low birth rate remains constant for the next 2 generations, then almost 60% of that nation's children will have no siblings, no cousins, no aunts or uncles. Except for grandparents, the extended family will disappear.

Posted by: RockvilleDad | February 27, 2007 3:44 PM

Is it worse (ethically) to start having kids when both parents are over 40 guaranteeing they'll have to "take care" of their parents when they themselves are under 40, or having an only child and making them the sole responsible dependent for aged/aging parents? I myself have no idea, but think it's an interesting philosophical question.

Posted by: Arrrrrgh | February 27, 2007 3:44 PM

This is a very interesting topic. I think partly you just know. We've got one and want more, and have actually been TTC for a while now with no luck (which is ironic since the first one came immediately). The experience, though, has actually shown me how much I want two, and, really, DH and I both think we want three altogether. We'll see what happens, but I just know in my heart I want more than one. That's all I've got for logic. :) Still, the one we have is a terrific blessing, and, if she's it, then I still think I'm the luckiest Mom around.

Posted by: VAMom | February 27, 2007 3:47 PM

"Don't quite understand your comment, but I assume that it is snarky. I'll also assume that you don't use your vacation time that is given to you? Right!"

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 03:38 PM

There is a difference between taking a planned vacation where everyone in the workplace knows that you intend to be out, and taking a spontaneous, unplanned, mental health day, just because you've earned it. and you wonder why employers cut benefits.

This is the sort of employee who makes it difficult for other employee moms and dads to achieve balance, the one parent in the group that creates drama for everyone else (who has to pick up the slack) by taking unplanned absences here and there not because her child is sick or because she is sick but just because it's part of her benefits package. pretty juvenile.

Lousy work ethic + burdens the other employees = do us all a favor and leave the workforce.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:47 PM

My husband and I planned on having 2 kids. However, job situations kept delaying implementation of this plan. So, our first child became our only child. In retrospect, I'm glad to have only wonderful, well adjusted son. He is now a freshman at Penn State, which we would not have been able to afford had there been a second child. I understand some people's view that having more than one child will help spread the burden of caring for aging parents, but that is flawed. It makes the assumption that all siblings will assist in caring for aging parents! I am one of five children and am essentially the only one caring for my Alzheimer's stricken mother who lives with my family. My "only" child, when he is home, is quite helpful to me in caring for his grandmother and giving me a bit of respite. I don't think I would have it any other way!

Posted by: Shar | February 27, 2007 3:50 PM

taking unplanned absences here and there not because her child is sick or because she is sick but just because it's part of her benefits package. pretty juvenile.

Oh, yeah, it's pretty juvenile for an employee or a child to have an unplanned illness. Somebody needs to talk to those uppity cold germs.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:52 PM

Who said that they were taking a day off that would burden other employees. Maybe it's a day where no meetings are scheduled, deadlines are due, etc. I'd rather a crabby co-worker not come in if it allows them to come back to work with more gusto.

Posted by: New Poster | February 27, 2007 3:52 PM

"There is a difference between taking a planned vacation where everyone in the workplace knows that you intend to be out, and taking a spontaneous, unplanned, mental health day, just because you've earned it. and you wonder why employers cut benefits."

I never said this? Are you smoking crack?

ha, and who said my soap opera day was unplanned! You are calling me juvenile and saying that I have a lousy work ethic when you can't even read.

I think you need a mental health day. Just be sure to schedule it in advance!

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 3:53 PM

My DH and I do not have children yet, but discuss it often. He is the oldest of 3 (sister then a brother), and I am basically the youngest of 3 girls (2 half brothers outside the household). We both absolutely agree that we should not have 3 children. Both our middle sisters felt left out of everything and are still very angry. When we married 3 years ago we were sure we would have only 2 children (we didn't want to be outnumbered in case of a coup), but now we are almost sure we want 4. Even though we can both make more money if we stay in our current city, we are relocating to a more cost effective area to ensure we do not have to raise our kids in daycare. It all depends on what you really want in life and what sacrifices you are willing to make. We are leaving the rat race so we can raise our kids one day.

Posted by: sc | February 27, 2007 3:54 PM

John @ 3:22pm, I am that baby cousin! I have a cousin with a daughter who's 14 months younger than I am (making her my first cousin once removed?), and we were close growing up - probably because we were the only little kids at family functions. But we grew up to be very different people, and I haven't spoken to her in years... For me, it's always been a bit strange, being the youngest of the cousins by at least a decade, but the larger family dynamic is such that I'm not especially close to any of my blood relatives, regardless of relationship. Different family drama and I might be closer to them, but such is life. Oh, almost needless to say, I'm an only since the 'rents got started so late.

Posted by: BxNY | February 27, 2007 3:55 PM

I think you need a mental health day. Just be sure to schedule it in advance!

ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 3:56 PM

I think long term care insurance is important. I wonder at what age should we be getting that. I heard in your 50s. Does that sound right to you guys?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 3:56 PM

Is it worse (ethically) to start having kids when both parents are over 40 guaranteeing they'll have to "take care" of their parents when they themselves are under 40, or having an only child and making them the sole responsible dependent for aged/aging parents? I myself have no idea, but think it's an interesting philosophical question.

Posted by: Arrrrrgh | February 27, 2007 03:44 PM

If you can afford good life insurance and long-term care insurance, I don't see anything unethical in having, loving and raising children at any age.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:02 PM

I actually schedule some mental health days into my vacation schedule. Especially between MLK's b-day and Memorial day, which is a long stretch with no days off. I will use them to veg, watch movies, clean the house, or have my hair done.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 4:04 PM

Good for you Emily and just for the record everyone who has ever worked with me knows I don't work on, near or around St. Patrick's Day, so all my work will be done and no other employee will have the burden of my work while I celebrate my favorite holiday with my family.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 4:07 PM

"Maybe it's a day where no meetings are scheduled, deadlines are due, etc. I'd rather a crabby co-worker not come in if it allows them to come back to work with more gusto."

Amen to that. I love how everyone assumes that everyone is essential every day of their job. Lots of us have jobs where we operate fairly independently and our absence does not send everyone else into a flutter. If one of my colleagues has a slow day and no pressing deadlines coming up, by all means, they should take advantage of it. We all work hard when the deadlines are there, we all need a break sometimes too.

Posted by: MEgan | February 27, 2007 4:09 PM

"You're not ENTITLED to guilt-trip a guest blogger because you're having a bad day as a manager. Those who express differences of opinion on this blog in a reasonably civil manner, and foamgnome is one of the best at this, don't get the reaction you got. Look in the mirror and figure out why or get on with your entitled self."

If she feels guilty, that is her problem--I cannot make anyone feel anything. I am entitled to my opinions without being called snarky--especially since I am not snarky at all. I've been exceedingly polite and FYI--I am not having a "bad day" as a manager. I believe just as some of the anonymous posters above, that those workers who anticipate predictable problems are the more responsible workers. Evidence is one of the posters who suggested a back-up plan. Very responsible and thoughtful. So it is possible. I never accused foamgnome of anything--I was making generalizations about being a parent of a child in daycare.

Why would anyone want to participate in these discussions where there are a few of you who call anyone with an alternate opinion names--it's like we're on a fascist list.

Posted by: working mother | February 27, 2007 4:09 PM

Is it ever unethical to have more kids? What does long term care insurance have to do with it?

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 4:10 PM

My husband and I just wrote a check for $26,000 for tuition next year for 1st grade. There is another family at the same school with 3 boys. I estimate that they are spending nearly $100K for elementary education. Critics out there would say move to a jurisdiction with good public schools. I dare you to name 1 jurisdiction with a reasonable commute to DC with good public elementary through high school ed. I am the youngest of 6 children. Husband is an only child. I am on speaking terms with all my siblings and at least 1/2 of us managed to pay or nearly pay for a college education. With college averaging in the low $40k these day, try multiplying that by 2 or 3. I always wanted at least one more child, but the financial and time management stress is prohibitive. Beyond the money, my husband and I both work - he with a private entity and me at a multilateral with generous leave allowances. We still find it a challenge to cover all the days off in the school calendar plus sick days. I know that having children is not all about money, but it sure helps, especially inside the Beltway. Did you know that the US is only 1 of 5 countries that does not have paid maternity leave - one of the others is Papua New Guinea. There is still a long way to go before this country learns that child care is not only a woman's job. Our 6 year old is exceptional and very outgoing, not having a sibling may mean - not having a built in play mate, but it also means that we won't be mortgaging her future along with her sibling's as well.

Posted by: MoRunner66 | February 27, 2007 4:12 PM

Just a comment on long-term-care insurance: buy it before anything turns up that could even remotely be considered a pre-existing condition.

My father didn't and now has Alzheimer's, and it's just a nightmare. Do not do this to your spouse and kid(s).

Posted by: BxNY | February 27, 2007 4:13 PM

I agree with Megan. Not all of us are crucial players at work every single day of the week. On days when I have to chair a meeting or participate in some other crucial way, I would rearrange almost anything to come in and work, even if only for a few hours to get the crucial thing done (and have often come in sick in order not to inconvenience other people). But on days that nothing special is going on, I see nothing wrong for calling in sick if you are feeling poorly or if your child is sick.

I also work for the feds, and we get a fair amount of vacation and sick leave. I try to hoard my sick leave for emergencies (or future maternity leave), so I don't use my sick days unless I have no choice. But I see no reason for people to use them when they need them.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 4:13 PM

I don't know about ethics, but I do think it is unwise to have more kids when you know you can't possibly afford them. I am not talking about affording extras or even college. I am talking about being able to give them a roof over their heads, food, and clothing. I have met a couple of people who were on the verge of homelessness and still having children. Unbelievably stupid.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 4:16 PM

Next time I get listeria I will use my back up body!

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 4:17 PM

"I dare you to name 1 jurisdiction with a reasonable commute to DC with good public elementary through high school ed."

Montgomery County and Fairfax County have excellent public schools and they are not that far from DC.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 4:18 PM

Emily,
I agree with you about using your sick days when you need them, that's what they're there for. Also if an employee is not doing anything "mission critical" and there is a sick child or the employee is sick, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using sick days. It is when an employee has a PREDICTABLE issue (e.g. snow days, sick kid in daycare during winter) and it imposes on their fellow employees or the supervisor, that it can be an issue. Stuff happens in life and it can happen to anyone, not just parents so that is why we have sick days (not everyone does, many employees don't). Obviously from some of the comments, there are employees that abuse this benefit (those that take sick days for "mental health days"). And parents that abuse this give the rest of us a bad name.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:18 PM

I earned my vacation and sick days and I will take them when she is sick or when I am sick, or for St. Patrick's day or just because I want to watch soap opera day!


Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 03:30 PM

Using sick days for when you're sick , as Emily describes, is not the problem. If you're sick stay home and don't infect everyone else. Taking sick leave to watch soap operas drives up the cost of benefits for everyone, is abuse of the system, and employers use this kind of behavior to justify reducing benefits.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:20 PM

But some people have their sick and vacation all lumped into one, so if they want to use one of those days to watch soaps, it is not unethical for them to do so, and is in fact NOT abuse of the system. Of course it helps if these days are scheduled, and scarry did say that they are.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 4:22 PM

Is it ever unethical to have more kids?

Guess we'll be calling you Fof5 before long.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:23 PM

The way I figure it, I have a chronic illness, so any day could be a sick day.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 4:23 PM

And I could never call in with a mental health day, because my boss would only point out that to cure that condition, I would need a lot more than just one day.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 4:24 PM

Taking sick leave to watch soap operas drives up the cost of benefits for everyone, is abuse of the system, and employers use this kind of behavior to justify reducing benefits.

Only if you take more days than you're allowed. Like Scarry says, it's best to plan them ahead so as not to leave co-wokers in a tough spot.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:27 PM

Where I work, sick leave is a benefit, not an entitlement. There are clearly defined rules for the use of sick leave. Using sick leave for other than its intended purposes is grounds for disciplinary action.

Many people think they've earned it, and they can use it any way they choose. some managers address this and others don't, so I believe that some people think the misuse is OK.

In reality, it's not OK. If you don't like the policy, work to change it, don't misuse it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:29 PM

My husband and I just wrote a check for $26,000 for tuition next year for 1st grade. . . . I dare you to name 1 jurisdiction with a reasonable commute to DC with good public elementary through high school ed. . . . I always wanted at least one more child, but the financial and time management stress is prohibitive. . . . We still find it a challenge to cover all the days off in the school calendar plus sick days. I know that having children is not all about money, but it sure helps, especially inside the Beltway. Did you know that the US is only 1 of 5 countries that does not have paid maternity leave - one of the others is Papua New Guinea. There is still a long way to go before this country learns that child care is not only a woman's job.

Posted by: MoRunner66 | February 27, 2007 04:12 PM

this is a spoof post, right? no real person would whine about the lack of government paid maternity leave in the same breath as she mentions writing a check for $26,000 for private elementary school tuition.

for some people, there is NEVER enough money.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:29 PM

I have an aunt six weeks older than I am.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:30 PM

"In reality, it's not OK. If you don't like the policy, work to change it, don't misuse it."

That is absolutely correct. When it is used for childcare issues, it gives parents a bad name. Could this contribute to businesses discriminating against parents?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:30 PM

Using sick days for when you're sick , as Emily describes, is not the problem. If you're sick stay home and don't infect everyone else. Taking sick leave to watch soap operas drives .........

For god's sake, get a grip. My days are all vacation days and I have never really taken a day to watch soap operas. All of my days, except for listeria day, have been planned.

The real problems in the work place occur when people can't take a joke, don't think people are allowed to take their own vacation days, work from 7 in the morning to 10 at night, take work home with them, come into work sick infecting all their co-workers, and in general have an over inflated sense of their own importance.

Really though feel free to spin my comment defending the right to take care of yourself and your sick kid into your own useful propaganda on why employers take away benefits.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 4:32 PM

"I dare you to name 1 jurisdiction with a reasonable commute to DC with good public elementary through high school ed."

Montgomery County and Fairfax County have excellent public schools and they are not that far from DC.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 04:18

Emily I'll add to that with Arlington County.

Montgomery, Fairfax, and Arlington are minutes from DC. Of the above (and including DC) there are 10 high schools in the top 100 high schools published in us news and world report.

Before you start bashing, do some research!

Washington DC is the 2nd most educated city in the country (right behind Seattle) All of those educated people have kids and then send their kids to GOOD SCHOOLS.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:32 PM

Where I work, leave is part of my COMPENSATION package... that means I'm entitled to it. Sick leave and vacation time are all bunched into one... so what qualifies as misuse? If I want to take a day off, I let my manager know and make sure it is okay... I don't tell them why unless it is last minute, i.e. that morning. Most personal days are just that, personal

Posted by: entitled | February 27, 2007 4:33 PM

"Where I work, sick leave is a benefit, not an entitlement. There are clearly defined rules for the use of sick leave. Using sick leave for other than its intended purposes is grounds for disciplinary action."

Two thoughts. First, this isn't true everywhere - many places simply give a lump amount of leave for vacation and sick days that can be used for whatever purpose. So employees are perfectly entitled to use it that way; you can't assume that someone taking a day off for mental health or whatever at a different work place is not following the rules.

Second, a benefit IS part of your compensation package, and you are entitled to use it so long as you are in accordance with the rules. People negotiate for benefits (not everyone has this chance, I know, but it is still considered part of compensation), they are part of the agreement between employer and employee, and employees are entitled to use them in accordance with that agreement.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 4:34 PM

"Where I work, sick leave is a benefit, not an entitlement."

So employees are not entitled to their benefits? That doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 27, 2007 4:35 PM

"In reality, it's not OK. If you don't like the policy, work to change it, don't misuse it."

That is absolutely correct. When it is used for childcare issues, it gives parents a bad name. Could this contribute to businesses discriminating against parents?


SOME workplaces do allow leave to be used for childcare issues. Don't generalize from your workplace to ALL workplaces!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:36 PM

I don't even watch soap operas. I was just using to illustrate the point that your vacation is your vacation.

By the way, I have like 30 of them this year; I suppose I shouldn't use them though.

Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 4:37 PM

"If one of my colleagues has a slow day and no pressing deadlines coming up, by all means, they should take advantage of it. We all work hard when the deadlines are there, we all need a break sometimes too."

I agree -- but the implementation of this typically depends on the management culture. In a previous company, I had to provide answers to any individual whose sick leave [which is different from vacation] hit a high watermark -- even if it was allowable leave. Invariably I would go down a list of a couple of names and most would have obvious reasons: currently pregnant, surgery, extended illness, sick family member -- all of these were reasonable and easy from a management point-of-view. Occassionally you would have people that had high leave usage that was very spotty -- as a manager I had to talk with them to get background. In general I would indicate that I saw they had been out a good deal and ask if there was anything wrong. In one case, the individual was dealing with a health issue that they hadn't wanted to be made known -- and we were able to make his schedule more flexible. In another case an individual in his mid-20's saw the need for periodic mental health days [exclusively on Fridays and Mondays] -- his sick leave usage definitely affected his annual review.

In my current company, I have 25 people that I don't even require to track their time -- they are professionals and I know that they will get the job done [and that I can take steps if they don't].

It all depends on corporate culture and expectations.

Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 4:38 PM

"Emily, your punishment should be to display that pink flamingo in your front yard until somebody steals it from you."

Bwahaha. :)

"The Pope/church does not tell you that you should have as many children as possible. Birth control - natural family planning - is generally taught, and is encouraged."

...and don't forget that celibacy option the Vatican recommends too. For example, don't nuns and monks tend to prevent births more than they have children?

"Please if the church had their way they'd have as many little catholics as they could get their hands on."

If every Catholic adult was busy making as many little Catholics as they could, there would be no Catholic adults left to be the Catholic clergy.

Maybe part of the anti-contraceptive attitude is actually competition between fans of different birth control methods (a la "oh no, if women who don't want to be moms can take the Pill then fewer of them will join our convents")?

"----I've always heard you'll never regret the kids you have, only the ones you didn't have .----

"I keep hearing this too and it's terrible, untrue advice. I've lived all over the US and overseas and met many people who have regretted having some or all of their children."

The flip side isn't true either. I bet nearly all of us don't regret at least some of the kids we didn't have. I sure don't regret staying a virgin instead of having kids at 12, 13, 14, etc. ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:38 PM

"I dare you to name 1 jurisdiction with a reasonable commute to DC with good public elementary through high school ed."

Howard County -- even better schools but a litle longer commute. :-)

Posted by: A Dad | February 27, 2007 4:40 PM

I just started lying to my boss. If my daughter is sick and I need to stay home- I just tell him I'm sick. If she has a dr appointment i just say it's MY dr appointment.

He hasn't said a word. Before I started doing this I got the eye rolling, huffing and puffing. Now nothing.He's always at the dr for something or other, but gosh forbid my child needs a dr every once in awhile.

Thankfully I never need those days for myself!

Posted by: SOLUTION | February 27, 2007 4:40 PM

"In my current company, I have 25 people that I don't even require to track their time -- they are professionals and I know that they will get the job done [and that I can take steps if they don't]."

Yes, thank you a dad, I called into work sick as a dog yesterday to attend a meeting because I needed to be there.


Posted by: scarry | February 27, 2007 4:42 PM

There's a lot being talked about today, so I'll just address one thing....

Foamgnome - you mentioned in one of your posts being concerned about how you would afford more than one child - things like entertainment, vacations, etc. I think the answer is that you would likely change the types of things you do as a family. For instance, instead of taking your children to see Go Diego Go, you go to a children's play put on the community college theater program - or to a free puppet show at the library and a picnic in the park. Instead of a Disney cruise, you drive to a national park and camp for a week. When your child is grown, they will likely not remember the expensive Nick show they saw or the cruise they took at age 3 - what they will remember is the overall experience of being a member of their family and the simple things their family did together.

Posted by: momof4 | February 27, 2007 4:44 PM

You are exactly right. When people behave like professionals, do the work, don't impose unnecessarily on their colleagues, then your approach is appropriate. Too many people abuse their employers. And I'm not an employer--I'm an employee and parent who has been imposed upon by people who abuse the system.

Posted by: To A Dad | February 27, 2007 4:45 PM

26K a year for a kid's elementary education? You people must be pooping money!! That's ridiculous. And thinking that there are no good public schools close to dc (as others have said, Mont. Co., Fairfax, Arlington, and Howard) is just wrong. Not everyone has money to throw away.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:46 PM

Using sick days for when you're sick , as Emily describes, is not the problem. If you're sick stay home and don't infect everyone else......


what about people who blog on the company's dime? Kettle meet pot.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 4:47 PM

"It all depends on corporate culture and expectations"

Very true, A Dad, and if you work in one of those places where it's a big deal to actually use your vacation or sick time, you gotta do what you gotta do. But personally, I hope we can contain the spread of that culture :) I'm much happier working in a place where I can take the time off that I've earned and that I need to remain sane.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 4:50 PM

I lied....one more thing

On the subject of handmedowns and younger children resenting them - as long as you don't make an issue of it, they won't. An infant obviously doesn't know that they're sleeping in the same crib their older brother did. A 2 year old doesn't know that the new dress she loves was worn by her older sister 3 years earlier. And even if a 6 year old is aware that her clothes used to belong to her sister she won't think it's a problem if you don't make it into one because to her, a new pair of cool jeans is a new pair of cool jeans.


Posted by: momof4 | February 27, 2007 4:51 PM

One upside to having more than one I don't think anyone has mentioned - both my grandparents got very close to their siblings as they got older (much older, i.e. 65+) and my grandfather even more so after he was widowed. He told me he spent so much time with his sister because she was the only person alive who had known him when he was a young man, not only as dad or grandpa. I was very touched by this and it remains one of the main reasons I will have more than one myself. Someday parents and even spouses may be gone but a sibling is a physical reminder of one's youth - a precious thing, I am sure.

Posted by: NewMom | February 27, 2007 4:59 PM

"If you're going to let global environmental policy influence your family decisions, isn't it just as good to plant more trees on the back forty as to forgo having children?"

I think that Greenie raised an excellent point which was dismissed too early and harshly in this blog. Some people's decisions to have children or more than one child ARE influenced by factors outside of their own small, little self-reflecting world. Instead of thinking about their immediate wants and needs ("I WANT to have 3, or 6, or 10 kids," "I WANT my daughter to have a sibling," etc.), they are thinking of larger-picture issues and a greater good outside of themselves. Believe it or not, this sort of thinking (deemed by some on this blog to be "environmental nazism") DOES influence some people's decisions regarding the size of their family, and I think that such persons are responsible and self-less by thinking of a greater good for us all. I hardly think that planting a few trees in the backyard can compensate for the environmental impact that a person, over their lifespan (as well as the impact of future generations spawned by that one person), would make. Some people really do think, and act, on broader issues beyond their own selves.

Posted by: In Support of Greenie | February 27, 2007 5:06 PM

I'm all for private school, but 26K for first grade? Take the 26K - invest it and your child will have quite a nest egg for college by the time they are 18.

I have 2 friends that send their kids to private and it is about $500/month for the first kid, discounts on additional kids - roughly 4500/year. What are you getting for 26K? Do they feed and clothe them?

Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 5:08 PM

what about people who blog on the company's dime? Kettle meet pot.

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 04:47 PM

many of us are paid by production. it doesn't cost my employer one penny when I blog. it wouldn't surprise me if one or more of you don't believe you're ENTITLED to BLOG, as well as take off for Arbor Day.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 5:16 PM

I can't believe people are arguing that a child getting sick is "predictable" and therefore one can plan ahead for care. My daughter had several back-to-back ear infections in her first year at daycare. This year she has not been sick at all (she is 3). How is this predictable?

On topic, I am one of those only children, who wanted a sibling. My parents live on a different continet altogether and I shudder to think what I would have to do should they get sick. There is NO ONE else to help me out.

My husband is one of six siblings and when his parents passed away within 2.5 months of each other it was a tremendous relief that someone was there to take care of the immediate arrangements (my husband is from Europe, too). We flew the next day, but meanwhile the other siblings were able to shoulder some of the tasks. They all shared the cost of the arrangements. When it comes to my parents. I won't have any of that support network or cost-sharing. I come from a culture that considers it a stigma to put one's parents in care and my parents would be very angry with me if I did that. I do wish they had had one more child just for this reason.

This is definitely one of the reasons I am having a second child. Not to specifically take care of me and my husband (we have planned well for that), but so they can have each other when we are gone and support each other. Plus, my daughter so wants a sibling and is so happy that a baby is coming.....

Posted by: Chantilly mom | February 27, 2007 5:21 PM

Before too many of our cohort have logged off for the day, I'd like invite you all to join me in congratulating our fellow-poster Foamgnome on an outstanding blog -- not to mention the courage to risk a few snarks -- which provoked (in the best sense) lots of great input from the board.

(stands, applauds and cheers!)

Posted by: catlady | February 27, 2007 5:21 PM

"Some people's decisions to have children or more than one child ARE influenced by factors outside of their own small, little self-reflecting world. "

I agree. However, I think the planting more trees poster brings up a good point as well...that an extra person on the planet doesn't automatically have a negative effect on the planet - how that person lives is more important. Think about the statistics that say what a inproportionate amount of natural resources Americans used compared to the rest of the world.

A vegetarian, recyling, Goodwill shopping family of 5 living in a 1500 sq. ft. house using a Prius and bicycles as their modes of transportation and going on camping trips for their vacations is going to have a smaller footprint than a meat eating, throw it in the garbage, everything must be new, family of 3 living in a 4000 sq. ft. house driving an Expedition and a Hummer and taking vacations using air transport.

Posted by: momof4 | February 27, 2007 5:24 PM

"Some people really do think, and act, on broader issues beyond their own selves."

I've seen the zero-pop websites which attempt to reduce every justification for having a child to selfish desires, but the fact is, some people genuinely do view bringing new life into the world as a greater good and an act that goes beyond themselves. Fine if you're not one of them (I think environmental impact's an important consideration myself), but you're not going to increase civil debate any with that attitude.

Posted by: in defense of avoiding generalizations | February 27, 2007 5:25 PM

well said catlady...

foamgnome, you did it!

Posted by: dotted | February 27, 2007 5:26 PM

"handmedowns."

It's all in how you characterize pre-loved clothing. We don't use the word handmedowns at our house. We use "pre-loved", and it applies to every member of our family. It's not some sort of punishment, it's a way for us to economize. I bow to the gods of eBay. I daresay it's probably been the only way we could afford the cost of our son's soccer club dues. If you create a culture that "this is what our family does", your kids are fine with participating in anything that the entire family does, and that is not apparent to outsiders. If it's torn, or got holes or stains or is what some parents describe as "play" quality, it gets donated. Pre-loved clothing doesn't work if Mom, Dad and Older Brother shop for new clothes at the mall and Younger Brother only gets Older Brother's . . . pre-loved garments.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 27, 2007 5:28 PM

(stands, applauds and cheers!)

Posted by: catlady | February 27, 2007 05:21 PM


I'm so bummed to have missed so much of this today. Great job foamgnome. If you ever want to stage a bloodless coup to take over the blog I'm on your side! haha. So refreshing to have a "new" topic. Good luck with your decision - whatever you do, I'm sure it will be made with love which is what you will be able to tell your kid(s) later if they ask. I only wish Britney had put this much thought into her reproductive decisions. Now that I think about it, maybe you should have another just to offset the Britney/K-Fed genes out there!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 27, 2007 5:29 PM

"What are you getting for 26K?"

I went to such a school for high school (back then (about 25 years ago), tuition was about $5,000 a year, and you are getting a great education in a very academically enriched environment where all the kids are focused on school and learning. Everyone in my school went to college, many to Ivy Leagues, others to elite private colleges. Not many state schools were represented although UVA was considered a good back-up.

This said, my siblings went to Montgomery County public schools and did just fine. But in the DC area, in some circles, these independent private schools are considered very much of a status symbol. They are the places where politically connected people go, where the kids of wealthy doctors and lawyers go. That sort of thing. I just went on scholarship, my parents were just looking for a good education for me. And I loved it. It was an amazing school and I got an amazing education there. But you can certainly do fine in the public school system also.

Posted by: Emily | February 27, 2007 5:30 PM

I am betting that the guidance counselors at the high school at the end of the $26K first grade rainbow are a bit more informed and helpful than the guidance counselors at Montgomery Blair.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 5:33 PM

Quick note on the female "onlys" who have mentioned that when they wished for a sibling they specifically wanted an older brother:

Werid, I was an "only" until I was 5 and my sister came along. I actually still feel like I've experienced both--only child-dom and siblinghood (I have a long memory). Anyway, when I wished for a sibling, I wished for an older brother too. Around age 4 or so I realized that it didn't work that way.

Personally, I love big families (parents both have siblings in numbers in the double digits!), and I'd love to have 4 or 5, but I'm also no where near the family planning stage of my life so it's easy to say that now. If I'm lucky enough to have any, it will probably be 1 or 2.

Posted by: Cate | February 27, 2007 5:34 PM

^ So much for critical reading skills. (I wish this blog had a delete function.)

Posted by: gah | February 27, 2007 5:34 PM

A vegetarian, recyling, Goodwill shopping family of 5 living in a 1500 sq. ft. house using a Prius and bicycles as their modes of transportation and going on camping trips for their vacations is going to have a smaller footprint than a meat eating, throw it in the garbage, everything must be new, family of 3 living in a 4000 sq. ft. house driving an Expedition and a Hummer and taking vacations using air transport.

Posted by: momof4 | February 27, 2007 05:24 PM

I'd say momof4 increased civic debate exponentially with this comment.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 5:35 PM

I'm the happy mom of one. We have lots of only-child role models, including my father. I think parents of an only have to be able to play with their child sometimes, and be willing to push them out of the nest, send them to friends houses, etc.

My mom friends say you just know when your family is complete. Mine is. I've known that since my son was about four months old (he was an itty-bitty preemie, so that helped our decision). Maybe yours isn't--but it's a gut decision, not an economic or environmental one.

Posted by: dynagirl | February 27, 2007 5:36 PM

Coming in late here- past 5pm Eastern.

Its so hard to decide whether or not to have another child. For me, my vision of my family involves more than one child-- I don't know what we would have done if we couldn't have conceived a second child, but I would never have planned to just have one, any more than I would plan to remain childless (or have ten kids). But we are very much on the fence about having a 4th child-- the idea of going through the tiny baby stuff again, and making sure no one gets lost in the shuffle are both causing me to hesitate.

How money plays into the decision for me is that it doesn't. We moved away from DC to a cheaper area to ease our budget, but I think siblings enrich each other's lives in ways that money can't. We would like to provide significant college savings for each of our kids, and to be able to support their interests as they grow, but I'm much more concerned about emotional resources than financial ones. Money would come into play if paying for food and medical care were an issue, but I don't get the impression that people here are talking about that when they talk about affording another child.

I'm a little shocked to hear people who regret having siblings-- my siblings are some of the most important people in my life. I don't know how you grow up with someone without developing a special connection, even if they are very different.

I can't comment on the daycare issue, because we don't use daycare-- I'm sure that does make things more complicated, but it's just for the first few years, right?

I don't mean to knock single child families-- if that works for you great!

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | February 27, 2007 5:41 PM

i think relying on a sibling to help take care of a parent is a crapshoot like anything else. my brother stole money from money mother & didn't do jack squat while she was ill. he did show up for her funeral. in a way it was nice that he didn't do anything while she was ill. i could make all the decisions without having to bicker over each detail.

Posted by: arlington, va | February 27, 2007 5:44 PM

I can't comment on the daycare issue, because we don't use daycare-- I'm sure that does make things more complicated, but it's just for the first few years, right?

no. after-school and sick care take over as issues.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 5:45 PM

The best thing about the 26K school is when you get to middle and high school, the parents are never around and there are plenty of places to party and lotsa $$ for drugs and booze!

Posted by: The best thing | February 27, 2007 5:47 PM

How do you think ideas of how many children to have influence when you start your family? My husband and I are trying to decide whether to have a child in our last year of professional school, or wait until we're a few years into our careers, when it might be easier (although I'm not sure that's even true). But then we'd be in our early 30s when we have our first, and if we want to have 3 (which we think right now, although that is open to change), we'll be pretty old by the third, and worry that we might lose the opportunity/ability. But also, if we wait, we'll have some time with decent incomes to pay down some debt, develop savings, before taking on all the child-related costs.

what do people think? did you start early to be sure you could have more, or are we crazy to even contemplate this before getting our careers started?

Posted by: MWA | February 27, 2007 5:55 PM

I still stand behind what I said. How many comments on this blog today have you seen that said "I want to bring another child into the world for the greater good?" There have been a few comments along those lines (having more kids to benefit societies with low birth rates, for example), but most have been along the lines of "I always WANTED a big family," or "We're having another kid for the much more selfish reason that the first one is the best thing that ever happenend to us, and we want to repeat the experience," (as Rock Creek Mama posted this morning).

I'm not advocating that people don't have kids altogether. I am simply stating that the environment, and similar broader issues, DO have a place for some people in their decisions regarding the size of their family.

As for this comment:

..."A vegetarian, recyling, Goodwill shopping family of 5 living in a 1500 sq. ft. house using a Prius and bicycles as their modes of transportation and going on camping trips for their vacations."...

that would be GREAT. I wonder how many people in this country actually adhere to such practices (some DO, the majority don't). Perhaps those people who think of the environment when considering the size of their families are the ones more likely to adhere to such environmentally-friendlier lifestyles like the one you just mentioned once they make the decision to have children/more than one child.

Posted by: In support of Greenie | February 27, 2007 6:00 PM

To "in support of Greenie"

My feelings about the environment affect how I'm raising my kids, but I think it's absurd to try to predict the ecological impact of my child. We have a lot of childless adults in our family-- we're reproducing for all of them, LOL!

Arguing that all the people who agree with you should have only one or no children has always struck me as a poor plan for the longterm (though kids don't always grow up to agree with their parents).

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | February 27, 2007 6:15 PM

"On the subject of handmedowns and younger children resenting them - as long as you don't make an issue of it, they won't."

...but when they're older their classmates and neighbors might make an issue of it. I'm glad my parents didn't make my little brother wear my old dresses, skirts, pink sweaters, etc. to school because he would have had a much harder time learning those social skills you learn by having friends if they did. Remember, there's no guarantee that kid #2 will be the same sex as kid #1 (unless you adopt or are ready to selectively abort).

"Pre-loved clothing doesn't work if Mom, Dad and Older Brother shop for new clothes at the mall and Younger Brother only gets Older Brother's . . . pre-loved garments."

Great point. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 6:20 PM

"I am simply stating that the environment, and similar broader issues, DO have a place for some people in their decisions regarding the size of their family."

I didn't read the original post, but I don't see anything wrong with this. I've thought about environmental and population-related issues when I think about whether to have another one as well as in my decisions as a parent, and I know other people who have done the same. But like you said, it's one among many considerations and I think for most people, the ultimate decision comes from the heart.

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 6:35 PM

Or on second thought, for most people, the ultimate decision probably comes from the pituitary gland...

Posted by: Megan | February 27, 2007 6:41 PM

"A vegetarian, recyling, Goodwill shopping family of 5 living in a 1500 sq. ft. house using a Prius and bicycles as their modes of transportation and going on camping trips for their vacations is going to have a smaller footprint than a meat eating, throw it in the garbage, everything must be new, family of 3 living in a 4000 sq. ft. house driving an Expedition and a Hummer and taking vacations using air transport.

Posted by: momof4 | February 27, 2007 05:24 PM"

Did you see Al Gore's electric bill in TN - 15,000$ a year - 20 times the average houeshold annually. His natural gas consumption is equally as high and he travels in private jets almost exclusively.

His footprint is going to be much bigger than my meat-eating, SUV driving family of 4.


Posted by: cmac | February 27, 2007 6:42 PM

Foamgnome,
Do not wait until you are 50 to get lTC insurance. The older you are the more expensive it gets. Plus, you can be injured at any age - it isn't only for nursing homes for the elderly. It is for rehab, etc.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 27, 2007 6:43 PM

Thanks guys. Momof4, that was a good point about the free puppet shows at the park. We took DD to one last year and her attention was for all about 3 minutes because the play ground was in eye shot. I am hoping to try that again this year. We don't care for camping. So we will need to think a little more about an alternative for that. I have to admit we are not at all enviromentalists. Because the truth of the matter lifestyles affect the planet just as much as people. And we are typical American consumers. We should work on conservation better. I agree with the whole family needs to wear pre loved clothing. I had just heard from others that hand me downs suck. I was the only girl, so I don't really know this first hand. I always thought it kind of sucked to be the one who always had to wear hand me downs when the older child got all brand new. I will talk to all of you tonight. And thanks for such a great guest blog day. I hope we are all as nice to next Tuesdays guest.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 27, 2007 8:02 PM

Today's blog has been the lamest in recent memory---were some of you just joking about it being so great?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 8:12 PM

Wow, foamgnome, from reading your posts, it's clear that you have every intention of spoiling the heck of your kid. No wonder you feel as though you wouldn't have the money for a second kid. I mean, a down payment for your kid's house? Wouldn't it be better if you taught your kid self-reliance? Wouldn't it be OK if they "only" had two extracurriculars? What, are you expecting your child(ren) to have 4 or 5 extracurriculars? When does your kid get to sleep?

Seriously, you're a little obsessed with your kid. I said that before, but for some reason, you don't see how this is a problem. You're going to be one of those awful helicopter parents who drive all the normal people crazy. You scare me.

Posted by: Ryan | February 27, 2007 8:15 PM

Seriously, you're a little obsessed with your kid. I said that before, but for some reason, you don't see how this is a problem. You're going to be one of those awful helicopter parents who drive all the normal people crazy. You scare me.

What are you teaching your kid? How to be judgemental?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 8:28 PM

Ryan,

There's no suggestion of helicoptering either in today's guest blog or foamgnome's many, many posts.

You started your day around 9 a.m. slamming foamgnome for living in Springfield -- a bizarre nit. Now you are ending your day pick, pick, picking away again at foamgnome. YOU scare me.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 8:30 PM

Did you see Al Gore's electric bill in TN - 15,000$ a year - 20 times the average houeshold annually. His natural gas consumption is equally as high and he travels in private jets almost exclusively.

His footprint is going to be much bigger than my meat-eating, SUV driving family of 4.

CMAC, they should update the dictionary to put this in for the perfect straw man argument.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 8:52 PM

Well, you all know I live in an unusual neighborhood, but my older daughter is thrilled to get handmedowns from her neighbor, who's a little older and a little glamorous. It's funny though when she still refers to it as "Ellie's underwear" 6 months later.

We had a little Passing of the Coats ceremony earlier this month when we realized DD1's coat now fit DD2 better. The little one felt so proud, and the older one felt magnanimous. Of course, they're only almost-3 and 5-- we'll see how long that lasts.

Posted by: Neighbor | February 27, 2007 8:57 PM

My 2 cents... As many others have said - there is no right answer. But I think two things are most important to me when it comes to this choice (of how many children you decide to have):

1. Make sure you and your spouse understand your choice and why it is right for you (sounds simple, but Foamgnome's post on the topic was very thought provoking for a reason - it's not easy to do)

2. You can influence how your choice plays out - I firmly believe this although even though there are no guarantees.

As far as understanding our choices - We are shaped by our experiences into wanting what we want. I am an only child who lost my father when I was young, who is now caring for both my mom and daughter (and have a 2nd child on the way). I have always wished for a sibling for many reasons - for the relationship; for the 2nd outlet for my mom's attention; for more extended family. These factors drive my desire for more than one child. My wife definitely wanted 1... 2 was a bigger stretch for her but in the end she decided she wanted it also (at least in the long term :) ).

The next thing I have to say will piss some folks off - but I think that parents have a lot to do with how their children internalize what it means to have siblings.
More often than not, I think siblings have a better shot at getting along if their parents are a good role model and expectations setter. No family always gets along - but I would say that some parents expect more sibling cooperation than others. And conversely - you can make having one child a wonderful thing in all the ways others spoke of, too.

So... I say... make your choice with thoughtfulness, and figure out how to make it work for you - you can influence the outcome whatever the choice you make.

Posted by: BaltoDad | February 27, 2007 9:11 PM

Neighbor, There was this really popular girl in our neighbohood when I was growing up, & we all vied to get her hand-me-downs when she outgrew them. We felt so cool in her clothes, because she had nice stuff & also because they'd been hers.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 9:22 PM

I'm 54, still married to #1, and have two sons 17 and 20. You have a lot of comments to sort through! I think two is better than one. Keep in mind our culture and work is generally anti-children, platitudes to the contrary... you will have to fight for their mental health often. Trust your instincts and God Bless!

Posted by: meadows | February 27, 2007 9:28 PM

I have two children, a 21-month-old and a 4-month-old. I was an only child and usually bored out of my mind. My husband has a sister who is ten years younger. He might as well have been an only child. We knew from the get-go that we wanted 2 or 3 children. Now that we have two, we're pretty sure we're done.
Before we had children, we put money aside every month so that I could stay home for a year. My husband stays home with the kids now and I work. Having a second child hasn't impacted our finances that much so far, but that's mainly because both kids stay home right now. Going from 2 salaries and no kids to one salary, however, was certainly a big difference. We don't go out, we buy what's on sale, we buy second-hand clothes for the kids, watch every penny we spend, and are racking our brains as to how we will pay for part-time preschool for our oldest next year (we think it'd be good for him). We've been able to put money aside for their college education thanks to an inheritance.
Unlike you, I work 3 miles from home, which only takes me about 15 minutes each way, and my boss has been great (I took an 8-month maternity leave with my first and hadn't even been with the company for a year). My boss has 3 young children himself, so I think he knows what it's like.
I've been able to balance work & life by not taking work as seriously as I used to. I still do my job and all that is required, but am not as gung-ho about it as I used to be. I don't take a lunch break so I can go home earlier. I'm lucky in that I don't have to travel too much, and when I do, I have a very understanding husband.
I think the main reason for me not to have a third child at this point is that I don't want to go through the sleepless nights one more time. Of course, that might all change when he gets a little older and the memory of the sleepless nights fades away... Additional reasons include the money aspect and wanting my body back (selfish, I know).
I have to say, however, that it's great to see the two boys together. They're starting to be very interested in each other, even at such a young age. We're hoping they'll be very good friends growing up and that they'll always have each other to play with.

Posted by: Marianne | February 27, 2007 10:14 PM

Dear Foamgnome:

In the moments you are not feeling overwhelmed, what would you like to do in terms of having more children?

I have two, and regret not having a third. I let my job, parent's illness, and a layoff throw me off track.

My kids are nearly 8 years apart, and I love them both more than I ever thought possible.

I was fired and got pregnant with my second within months. I didn't plan it that way, but that's the way it worked out.

There's no right or wrong way to have a family, but do try to listen to your heart.

Best of luck to you.

Posted by: Kate | February 27, 2007 10:21 PM

About once a week, I say to my husband, "Why did we think we needed more than one?" After 24 years of parenting and four children; it's a little late. But the first one was soooo perfect. My friends warned me that we had an anomaly for a daughter. Honor student. Athlete. Exceedingly polite. College of her choice. Has a great job and never asks for anything. NEVER A MOMENT'S TROUBLE. (I can't say that loud enough.) And even at age 24, her parents are her best friends and she is likewise to us.

The other three? They're not bad kids and they're probably more the norm than their sister. Two were born 15 months apart and have spent the last 18 years battling to be top dog. Two years ago, we stopped taking family vacations because the two adolescents would spend the first four days of the week-long trip jockeying for position; trying to instill their will on all of us. With only two weeks of vacation a year; it wasn't worth it. I'd just as soon save the money and spend my precious downtime sitting by the pool at the country club. Hey, I deserve a vacation, too!

Then there's the caboose kid. The baby, now 11, around whom our lives revolve. His brother and sisters hang on his every basket and base hit. How did his class project go? A girl gave him money for Valentine's Day? Nothing goes unnoticed or left without comment. Everyone loves Mikey. That's why he has what one of our former babysitters pegged his "look at me" personality. He's the smartest and most athletic kid in the class. Just ask him. Isn't it great to not have a worry about the self esteem of at least one kid?

When I was a newlywed, I used to puzzle at a family in our neighborhood. Same parents with two kids different beyond belief. Older son was the honor student, star athlete, school president, med school, yada, yada, yada. Second son might have been the most endearing youngster I've ever met but became a teenager who was often in trouble, eschewed sports, never went to college, finally joined the military, and is just now at almost 30 finding his way.

Point is; it's a crap shoot. Parenting has no best laid plans. You don't know what you're in for when you decide to either have or delay the second or third or fourth child. My best judgment might have been to stop at one and while four has had its tribulations; each child has brought me something unique and wonderful. The best advice I can give is for you to throw your plan out the window along with your birth control. I used to worry when I had one child. I loved her so much I worried I wouldn't have enough love for a second child. But it's like work that expands to fit the time allotted. I had a huge untapped reserve of love that gave me enough to love the other three every bit as much. You'll find the love as well as the time and energy for another child. Parenting is doing what you have to do. Your best offense is a good defense such as a chilled-out commitment to roll with the punches, let your children revel in their uniqueness, and for you to recognize and appreciate the rewarding moments when they present themselves. It will be over before you know it. I know it's hard to believe when you're knee deep in toddlers.

I was sitting with the other moms at a high school basketball game last week. And another mother of one of the senior boys (we get very nostalgic when our kids are seniors) said she wished she'd had more than two children. I rolled my eyes (see above: "Why did we think we needed more than one?"} Then a mother of four said, "Yeah, I wish I'd had more, too." Now there's an endorsement!

Posted by: mom24 | February 27, 2007 11:48 PM

CMAC, they should update the dictionary to put this in for the perfect straw man argument.

Posted by: | February 27, 2007 08:52 PM

Perhaps his picture under "Hypocrite?"

General FYI: My kids LOVE hand-me-downs. They have always been special because cousin so-and-so wore them.

Posted by: cmac | February 28, 2007 6:52 AM

Perhaps his picture under "Hypocrite?"

General FYI: My kids LOVE hand-me-downs. They have always been special because cousin so-and-so wore them.

You sound like Ann Coulter.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2007 8:22 AM

"Second, a benefit IS part of your compensation package, and you are entitled to use it so long as you are in accordance with the rules"

As I said earlier, the rules are clearly defined for the use of sick leave. There is other leave that can be used any way you wish, for vacation, school field trips, shopping days, soap opera or whatever.

What I meant is that if you are lucky enough to be basically healthy and have no family situations that would require the legitimate use of your sick leave, then you can build a large sick leave balance. Some people feel that this is "their leave" and they are entitled to it and they will use it rather than lose it. They are the ones who take sick leave for the purposes for which other leave is designated.

And in some places, the compensation package is not negotiable. There are benefits and policies that have been clearly established. pay may be negotiable, and there is flexibility because the established policy includes flexible schedules, but earned sick leave and personal leave are not negotiable.

Not everyone is a lawyer on this board. Workplace rules are not the same everywhere. BTW, the sick leave policy is actually very generous with allowances for use due to illness of worker and family members as well as medical appointements. For example, you can use sick leave to take elderly parents to their regular appointments if they are no longer able to drive.

Posted by: to Megan | February 28, 2007 8:35 AM

Why is that directed to Megan? She didn't say you couldn't or shouldn't take your sick leave.

Posted by: to to megan | February 28, 2007 8:38 AM

directed to Megan because of her 4:34 post which seemed to imply that i was wrong when I said it was a benefit and not an entitlement. I was only trying to say that you are not entitled to use sick leave just because you have it. you may only use it under established rules, even if you have accumulated large amounts of sick leave.

Not picking on Megan, just trying to clarify earlier statements.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2007 8:56 AM

"The best advice I can give is for you to throw your plan out the window along with your birth control."

That's about the worst advice I've ever heard. How stupid.

Posted by: Unbelievable | February 28, 2007 10:21 AM

"Did you see Al Gore's electric bill in TN - 15,000$ a year - 20 times the average houeshold annually. His natural gas consumption is equally as high and he travels in private jets almost exclusively. "

Oh, I definitely don't think Al Gore is the poster child for environmental responsibility that people make him out to be.

I went to see a film last week about a man who swam the length of the Columbia River (over 1200 miles) to raise awareness for the environmental issues surrounding the river. His producer was there afterwards and he mentioned how when Al promoted his film he took private jets and stayed in 5 star hotels, and that he himself was taking Greyhound and sleeping on people's couches.


Posted by: momof4 | February 28, 2007 10:48 AM

"you may only use it under established rules, even if you have accumulated large amounts of sick leave."

I think that we are basically saying the same thing - you are entitled to use your benefits, so long as you are in accordance with the rules. If sick leave is restricted to certain situations, you are only entitled to use it in those situations.

But since the rules differ from workplace to workplace, what may not be acceptable where you work may be perfectly acceptable where someone else works. So nobody can really tell from someone's post whether they are "abusing the system" because you don't know what the rules are in their workplace.

My only other point about it being part of your compensation is that I think most people consider benefits along with salary when deciding whether to take a job, even if they can't actually negotiate the terms of the benefits. For example, with some jobs I've had I've accepted a lower salary because the benefits were excellent (more vacation and excellent health insurance); in other jobs I've negotiated for a higher salary because the benefits were crappy - for example, in my current position, when I asked about health insurance and realized it was going to cost a fortune under their plan, I pushed harder for a higher salary to make up for that. So even if it's not something you can negotiate specifically, it's part of the overall agreement.

Posted by: Megan | February 28, 2007 11:28 AM

"So nobody can really tell from someone's post whether they are "abusing the system" because you don't know what the rules are in their workplace."

I agree, but I was only saying what it was like in MY workplace and that people here do feel entitled to use sick leave for other than established purposes just because they have a balance on the books. I was really only speaking to my situation, but it seems that others feel like I was commenting on their situations.

Posted by: to Megan | February 28, 2007 11:48 AM

yes, one child is easier than two, not to mention less expensive. but no child is easier than one too.

clearly, we don't do this for how easy it is.

more than one child is good for the kids AND the parents. it's certainly made me less obsessive, now that I have two completely different children.

But more than that, I think the worst thing is being an adult, with parents gone and no siblings. That is NO fun. I am more thankful to have my sister now in my thirties than ever before. no one else quite knows where exactly you're coming from, including your spouse.

Posted by: rockville mama | February 28, 2007 12:37 PM

I am 8 and my mom showed this to me. I ask everyday for a brother or sister. She told me she waited until she was too old to have me and I am her gift. I am alone. I wish my mom made better choices so I am not alone. I will be very alone when I get older. I am saving my money for college.

Posted by: Only child | February 28, 2007 2:46 PM

As the mom of a 13 year-old girl and a soon-to-be 17 year-old son, I think I can add some longer-term perspective to the discussion. There is of course no right or wrong answer to the question of whether to have another child. My husband and I always knew we wanted to have two children, so in that respect, we may be different from you. Our reasons for wanting a second child were myriad, but the most significant for motivation for us came from the fact that we both have siblings, two in my case, three in his, and we cherish our relationships with them. We don't always agree with them but we are glad to have them in our lives.

Life with two children is definitely more complicated (and expensive) than life with one, but we haven't regretted it. Yes, a lot of juggling is required with two. For some reason, kids never get sick at the same time! An understanding employer is important, and it really helps if you and your husband can take turns to stay home with sick children - for instance you do a day, he does a day, etc. Not always possible, I know, but it helps. We always communicated clearly with our employers about the situation, emphasizing that we were committed to the job, too. Another observation - as they get older (starting in later elementary school for mine), kids tend to get sick less often.

One of the things my husband and I started to do while the children were in daycare was juggle our schedules so that he went to work quite early, but was able to pick up the children at about 4pm, while I did the morning routine with the kids, dropped them off at day care or school around 8:00am, worked later in the day and came home in time for dinner, which my husband took care of. That way we cut back on the number of hours the kids were in daycare and after school care, yet we both could work full time. We still work a similar schedule now that the kids are teens, so that they can count on having a parent around in the morning before school and for part of the afternoon after school. We both work about 45 minutes (in rush hour) from home, which, while certainly not ideal, is ok for us. For the occasional "sick child" call from daycare or school during non- rush hour, we are able to reach them in about 30 minutes from the office, which has been satisfactory for all concerned. I just had to make one of those runs last month for my son, who came down with a stomach bug at his high school about 11am; he was amazed that I got to school so quickly. By the way, that was the first such "sick child" run I'd made in about four or five years.

As far as activities, we found that limiting them each to one, maybe two, at a time was best for our sanity and theirs. That usually meant a sport and either Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. We were flexible about this "rule" at times, but we always took into consideration the amount of time an activity took and when it occurred. Having most dinners together has always been a priority for us.

Lastly, I'll point out the obvious. As they get older, children can do more on their own and will become more independent, and this should be encouraged! Parental guidance and vigilance is always needed, of course, but kids can clean up after themselves, be responsible for their own homework, keep track of activities, etc.

I have no regrets about having two children. Sure, there have been many days when my husband and I have felt like tearing our hair out, but on the whole it has been very manageable for us, particularly in the last few years. What's right for us may not be right for you, obviously, but perhaps my experience will be of value to you.

Posted by: rockville mom | February 28, 2007 4:44 PM

Given your situation, why on earth would you even consider having more kids? Why do you want more kids when you admit that you struggle so much to deal with the one you have? Why bring another life into this already overcrowded world when you know you will provide it with no better than a mediocre childhood? I'm not beating you up. I just don't even see how this issue is even on your table. In my view, the world would be a lot better place if everyone in your position decided that the number of kids they have already is plenty.

Posted by: No More Gnomes | February 28, 2007 5:24 PM

"I was really only speaking to my situation, but it seems that others feel like I was commenting on their situations."

I gotcha. You're probably not still reading this, but just in case, I think probably I (and maybe others) got your comments and those of another anonymous poster confused.

Posted by: Megan | February 28, 2007 5:27 PM

Nomore Gnomes: What situation are you exactly referring to? Family Unfriendly job, working mother, long commute, child with a learning disability, husband with long commute and occassional travel. I just want to hear what you mean people in my situation should not have any more children.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 28, 2007 7:11 PM

I read your column and can sympathize. Regarding the job, you may want to spend some time to look for a new one --do informational interviews---talk to people about their work situations (bosses and company attitudes) and try to keep the commute reasonable. I can't do more than 25 minutes ---and we have stayed in our smaller house to accomodate that. You don't necessarily have to go back to the government(and 2 grades lower?!) to find a reasonable employer. There are others out there --but you have to look for them, I think.

Regarding the second child. I couldn't imagine life without him. He is the best gift we could have ever given my older child. It keeps it all in perspective and to some extent, they keep each other occupied. It is very hard ---very hard to keep it in perspective. We both work and to boot, my husband started a new company last year. I had a very abusive boss (at a government agency) that made any semblence of work life balance impossible ---so I understand how you feel. I would say that having reasonable commutes and flexible schedules makes it much more manageable.

Posted by: npe | February 28, 2007 8:43 PM

Perhaps his picture under "Hypocrite?"

General FYI: My kids LOVE hand-me-downs. They have always been special because cousin so-and-so wore them.

You sound like Ann Coulter.

Posted by: | February 28, 2007 08:22 AM

Ann Coulter is hot.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2007 8:48 PM

How many kids should you have? Ultimately, it's up to you. Don't let hostile bosses or anyone else make the decision for you.
Personally, I'm all for siblings. I'm the product of a big family, and my brothers and sisters are my best friends. But things don't always work out this way for everyone.

Posted by: anon mom | February 28, 2007 9:03 PM

Just in case anyone is wondering, the 4:44 posting is a different rockville mom. I hope she doesn't steal my name. :)

We currently have three kids, 4, 2, and 4 months. I say currently because we haven't absolutely decided about a fourth. It is not under discussion at this time because if it were, it would SO not be happening. I didn't originally think to have three. Two seemed the more natural number. Although I'm technically one of three, there's a 10-year age gap between my oldest brother and me and only two between my other brother and me. So in a lot of ways, I felt more like there were just two of us. I would never have had any intention of having just one. It feels too unbalanced. Of course, now we have three so maybe we're still unbalanced. Oh well.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 28, 2007 11:12 PM

Wow - Foamgnome - you should be commended for your thoughtfulness. You are thinking this through carefully, and it seems you'll make the best of whatever choice you make. If it is one child, I'm sure you'll take the advice of those who gave their only's plenty of playmates, cousins, good godparents, a bigger college fund, and such. If you have two or more, you'll treasure it for what it is - a way to enrich your life and theirs. Hopefully, in that case, you'll teach your children how important a sibling can be, and role model for them through your behaviors.

Given that so many people in this world don't know where their next meal is coming from, I personally think it is a blessing what most of us can offer one (or more) child(ren). If that comes with compromises about jobs, no million dollar retirement savings, and less savings for kids' college, that's ok with me (most days), whether we make that choice for 1 or 5 kids.

I fully admit to wanting to keep up with the Joneses sometimes. We're human and can't help it. I used to own neater cars and eat out more, but those days are done for now. I fully admit that there are challenging days, too much to do, and such. But my wife and I have chosen slower career progression and other compromises so that our daughter knows us well and we have more balance. It's worth it, to us, as we (try to) work to live, not vice versa.

My toddler daughter doesn't care if my day at work was awful or amazing, or if I drive a BMW or Toyota (at this point, anyway). She loves me either way and is such a blessing and more joy than I ever get at work on the best days (I hear that might change someday :) ). And with another child on the way, it will be what it will be. Missed days for sick kids, snow days, and such are unavoidable. If that doesn't come with an annoying boss or any challenges bigger than the occasional stomach bug, that's a blessing to be sure. If such things are the worst of it, I will try to cope.

No "holier than thou" intended by this vs. anyone who has written on this subject - I am not saying for a second that anyone else has to make the same choice my family has made, or that it has been obvious and easy - there is no right or wrong, or better or worse, ONLY right or wrong, or better or worse for you. Figure out what YOU want, be true to yourself, and make the best of it.

Posted by: Use Your Heart | March 1, 2007 10:57 PM

I am an only child, and so is my fiance. We both enjoyed it, and grew up to be sociable and well-adjusted adults. We are also successful in our careers and have strong senses of identity. I cannot say whether or not I will have more than one kid at this point. I will have to decide that after having the first one, based upon how I react to the pregnancy and childbirth, caring for an infant, etc. However, I will say that nothing in my experience (or my fiance's) makes me against having an only child.

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