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a small family

V told me the other day that i should have three more boys so that H wouldn’t bother her. then she thought a moment and threw in two girls to the mix so she would have sisters. i laughed. but it was an empty laugh.

i always shuffle around the question of kids. it’s not that i ever imagined that i would be driving around a special van with twelve little munchkins in the back, but i admit i imagined a family more like the one i grew up in: as in, more kids than two.

i’m definitely not claiming to know how it would feel to want children and have none because i wanted children and got some. but sometimes i feel like the universe lied to me a little bit. i had postpartum depression with H and then postpartum psychosis with V and so there was never a whole lot of holding and loving babies for me. i held them, and i loved them, but it was all under an umbrella of panic so fierce i couldn’t see the sun. (we were in cleveland, so there wasn’t much sun to begin with…. ) having babies is really hard on me physically, emotionally, mentally.

from where i sit now, i know i could never have another baby. it would take as many people as staff downtown abbey to get me through it and even then, i might not make it. my doctors have all advised against it. my own logic and reason center sees that having another baby would put me over the edge and it would be a fall so fast, i might not ever climb back up.

but even so, i watch my friends having babies. i see the tiny fingers, the eyelashes, the squishy faces and i wonder why my family got stopped at four. i try to tell myself that i’m glad i’m not changing diapers or getting up at night or bouncing back and forth in the kitchen. but am i? my mormon culture comes with an unspoken (so far, in my experience) pressure to have children. and sometimes i can’t separate it out. am i sad i don’t have more children because of me? because of what i see around me? i don’t really know.

my inventive little people still manage to have all sorts of shenanigans together even though they’re only two of them. they play duck, duck, goose with two. they play musical chairs with two. they build forts. they lay on their backs and listen to ramona quimby on tape. they build legos. they fight. they scream and hit each other. they write each other notes not to enter their respective rooms. in short, they manage all the same sorts of things me and my siblings did, on a slightly smaller scale.

i suppose, in the end, it’s a matter of coming to terms with an adulthood that doesn’t look the way you dreamed it when you were dreaming it. and that’s something we all have to get used to, one way or another.

8 comments to a small family

  • Suzanne

    So true you adapt to what is and leave behind what we wished. Everyone has to do it in a different way. I love what you are saying here and I love you Suzanne

  • Kate

    I hear you. My reasons for stopping at two are different, but for a long time I mourned, and I was never sure if it was because I really did want a quiver full of children or if it was just the vision of a righteous life I grew up with. And you imagine that people are looking at you wondering when you’ll announce your next pregnancy. But it passed, and although I have occasional twinges, I feel mostly peace. I think part of the trick for me is owning it and not inwardly apologizing, even to myself. Ahhh, being Mormon…

  • Rebecca

    I always wish it didn’t feel like people in my “mormon culture” cared whether or not I had two kids or four kids or more. I am proud of you for doing what’s right for you!

  • Becky

    This post is fabulous as usual and interesting to me. I am on the other end of the spectrum with five kids and plans for one more and I feel like in culture – and even if not especially in Mormon culture – I get the reaction of having “too many” kids. I guess I expect those reactions from mainstream society, but I get it from inside as well. Anyway, I always love reason what you write and you express it so beautifully.

  • other jessie

    I love your two babies.

  • Tiff

    I am feeling the same things, since I have realized that I am not to have a larger family and will likely stop at two. I haven’t even gotten #2 here yet, so sometimes I wonder if I will even be given that blessing or if I even deserve it. But yeah, being 33 and only having 1 kid feels really weird in a Mormon ward. I feel like maybe I’m not even supposed to make friends with those other families (meaning nearly all the other families) or something.

  • Paige Puntso

    Yup yup yup! That is the key – managing expectations and Not falling into the habit of comparing ourselves with others in an attempt to evaluate the success of our own lives.
    And, to quote pres. Uchtdorf’s remarks: “god is fully aware that you and I are not perfect. Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not. And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others — usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations of ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.”
    Mark Twain put it more succinctly: “Comparison is the death of joy.”
    You are who you are meant to be, Jessie. The burdens that you carry known to The Lord, and I remain your steadfast comrade in arms, Forever and Always. You are a real-life hero to me, and I treasure our friendship! Love n hugs, Paige

  • annie

    how did i JUST see this? thanks for writing, again. every post is like a little gift that i treasure. i think letting go of childhood perceptions and dreams is a difficult, but important task. and yes, mormon culture is a strange creature.

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