Column: We know, another kid is not what you expectedAugust 26, 2016
By JASON RECKER
Three years ago, I wrote the following statement on the future of my family: My wife and I are done having children. She could go for four. I preferred two. We settled on three. Compromise, the foundation of marriage. Low on patience and high on blood pressure, it’s not safe for me to father more offspring.
Yeah, so, my wife is pregnant.
I know what you’re thinking.
I’m still beyond the medical standards on systolic and diastolic, and patience was long ago shredded. But things change. We’re not done.
And yeah, we know how this works. Remember, I previously fathered three children. If in life I have no other skill, I am quite adept at producing offspring and my wife, she’s no slacker. I shoot like Larry Bird and she catches like Johnny Bench. Jason and Abby Recker are fertile, like a springtime pasture that’s been misted with liquefied manure. We know this. So we don’t carelessly dare physiology.
In this case, let’s just say the third base coach sent the runners and we were comfortable be they safe or out at home.
Now we brace ourselves for the most daunting task: which of our already-born three children to sell before the next edition arrives in late January. A neighbor has already offered assistance with whatever we might need; when a fourth-grader tugs her homework, a suitcase and a mattress across the street, he’ll regret being so cordial, but that’ll be his problem.
I’ll have enough of my own.
While my mother was one of eight children and my father one of six, families with more than three children these days are shrinking. In 1976, Pew Research tells us, 40 percent of mothers ages 40 to 44 had four or more children. In 2014, the number of mothers in the same age bracket with four or more kids dipped to 14 percent.
Most people settle on two kids. One in four expands to three. One in four families stops at one.
I am an only child, and it can be glorious. Two is manageable; it’s man-to-man defense. Three requires zone coverage; unattended children are the worst. Four? Goes something like this: Right after we confirmed the pregnancy, my boss told stories about how he, more than once, lost his fourth child — once at a museum in Indianapolis, once at the Strassenfest; losing the straggler, he laughed, it’s fairly common. Something to look forward to!
I already expect that people will gaze upon our family of six and suspect a) we are Amish or b) do the math and wonder how much wine she had one night in May.
I used to see four-children families and feel overwhelmed just standing next to them. How do they keep the house clean? When is the last time they went on a date? Do they ever leave the youth soccer complex on Sundays?
When we made the grand announcement last month on Facebook (because, duh), more than 300 people “liked” the news (personal record!). Some even picked that red heart to let us know they loved us, which, at least to me, means they are probably more than likely willing to baby-sit our children — the whole dang lot of them — several times a year (scratch that) month (wait, no) week.
Eight people were more honest. They’re the ones who clicked that open-mouth emoji that is intended to reflect a feeling of surprise but instead looks like the expression of a jogger who strolled upon a sidewalk littered with human torsos.
Not what I expected! As if the chili soup you ordered tasted a bit too spicy. What you meant was: Well, that had to be an accident!
You’re kidding me! Really, you’re serious? As if the spam email from a Nigerian king promising to fork over $500,000 is legit. What you meant was: You work for a newspaper. You can’t afford that!
Good luck! As if we were preparing for a softball game. What you meant was: Snip it already, big guy.
And then the worst one: Had to try for that boy, didn’t you? I suspect folks presume we kept fertilizing because we have three daughters and I just had to try for a boy. No. Stop it. While girls will become (major) problems later in life, boys pee in the driveway and Google things that should not be Googled; dolls are nicer.
Anyway, we already have girls clothes. They’re stuffed into boxes erroneously marked “DONE.”
I’ll get those out of the attic soon.
Bring on the expansion. Patience and blood pressure are overrated. Family is not.
Jason Recker is the news editor at The Herald. He’s at 220 over 140 and holding steady. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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