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How Many Kids Should You Have?


"We just never thought it was the right time for another."
Jenni Bowring and Tim McDonough, St. Paul, MN

Jenni's story: Tim, Henry, and I are a happy threesome — even though my husband and I didn't set out to have only one kid. When I was pregnant, I said I wanted to have another baby. But we just never thought it was the right time. We had conversations about having another, but we eventually agreed that Henry was it for us. We figured we would have more time and more money with just one child.

When family members say Henry is alone in the world, I get defensive. People say the stigma of the only child has faded, but sometimes I don't think that's true at all. Friends and family — and people we've just met — remark about families "not being complete with only one child" or tell us, "I don't understand how any kid could grow up properly without any siblings." Henry has asked if we could adopt an older brother for him, because he admires and looks up to his older male cousins. It's hard to answer him when he asks this, but I'll say, "Sweetheart, we're not going to add to our family," and he usually accepts that.

We're happy, we feel in control, and we haven't been sleep-deprived since Henry was a baby. The only thing I wish I could do is go back in time and be pregnant with Henry again. I wish I had savored that time more, relaxed more, and written a journal so I could recall what I was thinking, since that was my only time being pregnant. Still, life today feels really sane. Henry has started making his own breakfast on weekends; in the evening, we put a bowl of cereal on his place mat and a cup of milk in the fridge at his eye level. I don't mean to sound selfish, but it's nice to be able to sleep until 7 a.m. on the weekends. It's great that Henry can finally do things for himself and that he's starting to discover his independence. We gave him those wings and are letting him fly.

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