As I sit here writing this, my eldest daughter (the heir) is away at Kindy, most likely playing “mummies” and telling all the “daddies” what to do. My second daughter (the spare) is sitting on the toilet “toot-tooting” on an empty toilet roll and my youngest daughter (the third wheel) is putting herself to sleep with a bottle of milk.
Here is my thought for today…
I was in my early twenties when Treasurer Peter Costello put out the edict that families should have three children – one for mum, one for dad and one for the country.
At the time, there was a concern about the low fertility rate and the knock on effect it would have on an ageing population.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the total fertility rate reached a 30 year high in 2008 (thanks Baby Bonus) before dropping slightly in 2012 (thanks GFC).
Despite the (minute) ebbs and flows of the data, it does seem that families on average are sticking close to the number 2 when it comes to deciding how many times to procreate.
It is with this in mind that I reflect on why I would like to buck the trend of Australian families and head towards 4 children – one for mum, one for dad, one for the country and one for…let’s say New Zealand.
Here are my reasons for wanting more than my fair share of offspring (in no particular order):
1) There will be more people to take care of us when we are older
There is a lot of concern about the ageing population and how the country is going to afford to look after the elderly in years to come.
I figure, if I have four children, they can take it in turns to look after my husband and I when we are sliding down the slippery slope to dependence.
If you do the maths and divide the 12 months of the year by the 4 children I plan to have, they would only have to care for us 3 months. That fits nicely with the ATO if the kids do their tax quarterly and even nicer for the financial year – no one would have to split any eligible claims over two separate tax returns.
2) There will be better odds that one will end up liking me when they grow up
I have already made peace with the fact that in the future; my children will more than likely blame me (and my husband) for messing up their lives one way or the other.
I am sure that by the time they are teenagers, some (or more) of their afflictions will be attributed to the fact that I didn’t let them have an iPod for their 5th birthday or forced them to eat one measly green bean at dinner.
My firstborn will most likely complain that she had it tougher than her siblings because mummy and daddy had to practice being parents on her; my second born will complain that she was in the shadow of her sister and my third born will complain because EVERYthing she had was a hand-me-down.
I have already written the girls a letter (albeit in my head) stating that they just need to let me know what time I have to be in the therapist’s office.
I figure, if I have a fourth child, then I am increasing the odds of one of my children liking me (and wanting to spend time with me) when they are adults.
Furthermore, I figure the more children I have, the better the odds that I will enjoy the company of at least one pair of future in-laws. It would make weddings, Christmas and grandchildren’s birthdays a lot more fun.
3) I am breeding friends
I was doing the housework one weekday and my eldest daughter came and stood beside me, threw her hands down and lamented, “Mummy, what can I do? There’s nothing to do. I’m boooring (sic).”
I turned the vacuum cleaner off to give her my full attention and this was my reply. “You cannot be bored. I bred you a sister, now go and play with her. Look,” I pointed to my pregnant belly, “I am breeding you another friend. You have plenty of people to play with. Off you go.”
4) No one wants to be a third wheel
With three children, two can always gang up on one. At this point in time, the eldest two are forever running away from their baby sister.
Truth be told, they could walk away slowly (or even backwards) because the baby is only crawling but it’s the thought that counts.
Poor Number 3 doesn’t even get a chance to see which direction they went because her head is down. I see her look up searching for her sisters but to find that she is alone.
As a third child myself, I hated feeling like the third wheel. If I go ahead with baby Number 4, then things are even and each child will have a playmate. Plus, a car really needs four wheels to run.
5) More work (wo)men
I live on a cattle property with my husband and it is very hard to get workmen. Even when you do hire someone, you have to deal with payroll, super, leave – the list is endless.
I figure the more children I have, the more jackaroos (scratch that, jillaroos) we will have.
A few bucks into their piggy banks and a week’s family holiday should keep them satisfied.
6) The family name is coming to an end
At my bridal shower, there was talk about my future children. There was plenty of discussion (and I don’t believe much of it was coming from my direction).
I do remember, however, that an order was put in for 10 sons in order to solidify the family name for generations to come. So far, I have had 3 daughters.
I am fairly certain that I wasn’t ever going to fill this order to its specifications and there is a real risk that the family name (our section of it, anyway) will die out with my husband.
Despite what anyone says, I would like another opportunity to try for a son. I figure that my husband has been blessed with daddy’s girls and I would love a mummy’s boy.
FYI, the factory stops manufacturing after 4.
Having said all of this, however, I did just change (what feels like) the 45th dirty nappy for the day; I had to, once again, spend 10 minutes after lunch scrubbing the highchair and floor after my youngest threw most of her food around her and I spent 30 minutes yesterday watching my teething baby writhing in pain as I waited for the medication to kick in.
I am also really enjoying my glass(es) of wine each evening, being able to fit into my clothes and sleeping through the night.
So…maybe, I might take another month to make my final decision on my fourth daughter (I’m realistic). New Zealand isn’t that big anyway.
How did you decide on how many children to have?