Accident. Nope, just kidding! My wife and I actually did want 4 kids. I always wanted a large family because I enjoyed playing with and taking care of kids. I think being one of the older cousins in my family contributed to that since we older ones had to take care of the younger ones at family gatherings. My wife was the opposite, she was on the younger end of her cousin chain so she didn’t have much experience. In fact, I used to rib her lack of babysitting skills.
Somehow I must have rubbed off on her because she decided on a big family too. She told me one day while she was waiting to pick me up at the airport she saw a family with 4 kids. The sight of each child, their heads step laddering down in height from oldest to youngest was too cute. That did it for her, 4 was the magic number so our plan was 2 boys and 2 girls.
I admit I was relieved that the first was a boy (the “Heir”), if just to placate the more traditional elements in our families. So we were ready for number 2 to be a girl but the ancestors must have been pleased to have another boy (the “Spare”). Now we really wanted a girl so much that my wife got some book on strategies for gender selection and it must have worked because my wife finally got her “Barbie Doll” to play with. But ancestors got the last laugh because we got lazy on #4 and another bouncing baby boy arrived.
Am I crazy for wanting 4? I don’t think I am. I mean, most Asian families used to have many kids, my Ma-Ma (paternal grandmother) was youngest of 13. When I grow old and look back on things, am I going to regret not spending more hours at work or having the family we always wanted? So I just smile and tell people 4 is just a small family.
I admit it drives me crazy when people discuss having children as a material tradeoff. Sure I can understand if it is about lack of time, but most people seem to view kids as a cost forcing them to lose out on a better car, a fancier house, etc. (I remember one person who basically said they bought a new house so they can’t afford another kid and because they wanted a lot of upgrades…) Ugh, kids are not UPGRADES to attach price tags to! If you and your spouse really want “X” number of kids, I say just do it. Affordability is all relative; look I am just as poor with four kids as I was with one! And your child won’t miss a few less toys when the best toy he/she could ever have is a sibling. But the person that really drives me crazy about this is…
my very own mother!
She is absolutely obsessed about the costs of raising our kids (and she raised 3). How could we afford this or that she would constantly ask. And how could we pay for 4 college educations? (To me, it isn’t about raising the funds for good colleges, it’s about raising good kids.) While she thinks of herself as very traditional (and once wanted 10 grandchildren) what’s with the Material Girl routine now? Seems she isn’t alone, Asian families across the world are shrinking in size despite greater prosperity.
I have a suspicion that whereas my grandparents generation prided themselves on large families and would expect their children to care for them, my mother has decided that the almighty dollar is more reliable. I remember since I was little she would keep asking me (and my siblings) if I would care for her in her old age over and over again, which I thought was silly but maybe that is just her insecurity. And yet she really enjoys the grandkids immensely.
I guess I subscribe to the traditional view that family is wealth. We seem to having a good time and I don't miss the better car or fancy house.