The Tragic Optimist

my library degree is useless to me here

A co-worker stopped in today with her 3 week old baby.  She thought she’d be able to just stop in and see a few people and escape.  Hah.  No such luck, as she and her baby were immediately surrounded by a throng of adoring colleagues.  As we were talking, two different co-workers turned to me and said something to the effect of “doesn’t seeing the little baby make you want to just go out and have another?”  Unprepared for the question, and unprepared to give anything like a reasonable answer, I pleaded no comment both times.

This evening, Chris and Zoe and I were walking out in the park and I related the story to Chris.  “Well,” he said, “does it make you want to have another?”  I keep thinking this question will get easier and the answer will become clear, but that’s not the case.  On the one hand, newborns are sweet and cuddly and their poop doesn’t smell all that bad, but on the other hand, Zoe is so much more fun now, I wonder if I really want to go through the newborn stage again.  But it’s not like it lasts all that long.  Chris answered that he didn’t think he wanted another baby just right now and I agree.  But that’s part of my concern, if we wait until we think we’d like a baby, will we have waited too long, effectively making the decision for us? I feel a little silly dwelling on this so much, I fear it’s becoming tiresome, but it just keeps nagging at me, and then something like this afternoon happens and I’m face to face with the questions again.

If only the library subscribed to the Database of What the Future Holds, but I think that’s outside our budget.  Heck, I’d settle for a subscription to Journal of Should Chris and Ann Try to Reproduce Again.  Or maybe I don’t actually want to read any articles that they would publish.



  1. As someone without a small one, I am often faced with the questions of “are you and Doug planning on having kids?” or “do you want to have kids?” Like you, I have no idea what the right answer is. I generally plead the case “well…we’re not in a place financially or logistically right now…” but that’s really just a cop-out. Like you, I don’t know the answer, and frankly I have been avoiding the issue by using external situations as my crutch. Cause really…at what point are all the externalities really going to align perfectly to have a kid? Guess I’ve just never been one to always know I wanted children, and have mainly felt I really don’t want to chance screwing a kid up, so I have used whatever I can to not think about it.

    We all want that crystal ball…I guess we’ve got to go with our heart (whatever that means 🙂 )

  2. Oh Ann – I think we all feel this way at one point or another – I have two and many many many times want more…I have always wanted a big family of my very own ~ four kids sounds about perfect. But then, like you – I am totally enjoying this stage of life and do I really want to start over with a newborn? Even if it does go by much too quickly? Is it fair to my other two to add another little one to our lives, financially, emotionally, etc etc.
    Now that I think I’m finally becoming ok with having just two kids – I SWEAR everywhere I look I see people with at least 3! I keep telling my husband three is the new two! It’s hard not to dwell on it isn’t it? Especially when there is no right answer for any one of us…
    If you get a copy of the book of What the Future holds – I’ll be in for my turn to read it!

  3. Sarah

    Pros and cons of children will always abound I think. The fear of having it be as difficult to get pregnant as it was the first time must plague you. I can’t relate to wanting more, as I never wanted children to begin with. But as I get a little older and the circle of life begins to show itself more to me I wonder. Add the pressure of doctors saying I’m already past my prime, and being in a new relationship where talking about babies seems a little premature… I don’t even know if I could get pregnant, let alone if I wanted to. So through all this muddled confusion I know only one thing for sure, and you can take it for what it is… just my feeling on the matter…

    Babies are never a mistake, and in a way I am counting on you two to help straighten out the gene pool. Thank you for Z. If you crank out more we’d all cheer.

  4. I *so* dislike that question, on a number of levels. (Primarily because I think it’s completely presumptuous…) Luckily for us, we have an easy stock answer, usually in the form of “we used up our healthy kid karma on the one that we’ve got.” and the story is shocking enough that people shut up.

    The long answer for me is that I was *never* sure I wanted more than one, and the circumstances of getting that one didn’t really do much to change my mind. Unfortunately, the people least likely to accept that answer are ones like, say, the grandparental folks who can be quite persistent and opinionated about such things.

    But that leaves us with the question… Why is it not OK to only want one kid?

  5. May

    Still in the ‘I’d settle for one’ phase, myself. I can’t see myself ever wanting two, it seems obscenely greedy considering how hard it is to get the one. That said, I am astonished by the amount of people who seem to think it’s OK to ask colleagues and aquaintances about their family plans. It is NOT POLITE, people! You’re basically asking how often a couple is planning on having sex!

  6. I don’t know when the right time is to have another baby, but I think you guys will know when it is right, and I am sure it won’t be too late. hugs

  7. Kacia

    I get the “How long have you been married? And when are you going to have kids?” questions ALL the time. Some of my co-workers were actually astonished when I told them that I didn’t think I ever wanted to have kids (but those particular co-workers are barely out of their teens themselves, so it’s not surprising that the varying approaches people take to life haven’t really occurred to them yet). But sometimes I wonder if maybe I *do* want to have kids someday. Those wonderings have been a little more frequent lately, probably because I have an astonishing number of pregnant friends at the moment. Since I’m hoping to start med school in a year, it doesn’t seem like kids would be a good idea anytime soon, especially if I’m not certain that I want them. But I have this little nagging worry that if I wait too long to decide–or if I do decide I want them but that I should wait for another *nine years* until I’m done with med school and residency–it will be too late.

  8. Isn’t it amazing that the questions others pose are so invasive? The most personal decisions we ever make in our lives are focused on relationships and family. On one hand, I believe these are areas that are no one’s business unless we choose to make it so and I set boundaries when it comes to discussing my intimate affairs with others in my twenties. I won’t do it. However, it never ceases to amaze me that family, friends, co-workers and even casual acquaintances are eager to pop such rude questions. Suffice to say they don’t cotton to my responses.

    Question: You would be such wonderful parents. Why don’t you have kids like us?
    Answer: Every living thing or being including, bacteria has an innate drive to reproduction and it doesn’t take any talent at all to produce offspring. We are happy with our choice to remain childfree. We don’t need children to make us feel complete or whole.

    My husband and I have endured almost 30 years of rude questions being put to us. We have had it and we no longer pull our punches. The presumption that every couple wants to have children is erroneous. Many couples choose not to have children and their choice should be respected, rather than challenged.

    Whether you two choose to have another child or not, the decision is yours alone and the reasoning you use to reach it is your own personal business.

    Best wishes for a happy and healthy life,

  9. I should be surprised at all the comments that people get questioning their choice to parent / not parent / parent only 1 child / etc. I’m not. I don’t know why people seem to think that those choices are open to discussion and debate, but it really seems to be the case. I very much sympathize with anyone who’s being challenged and judged on your choices, regardless of what that choice is.

    Sarah, I’ve had people actually tell me that having only one child is selfish and unfair to your (hypothetical you, not you know, actually you) child, who deserves to have at least one sibling. I completely disagree with that. My dad is an only child, he somehow turned out ok and doesn’t feel deprived (as least, he’s never mentioned it).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: