The Struggle For Three {Insurance In Kids}

My friend Beth has five kids, ages 1 through 9, averaging out to a new family addition every 18-24 months.  Behind her back I call her a chia pet.  In front of her face I simply fall to my knees in adoration of her tenacious reproductive system.

Typically when I imagine what life with five children would look like I find myself sending a steady stream of e-mails like this one I sent to both Jake and my Mom, December 13th, 2012:

If you come over tonight only to find the car parked in the garage, both girls locked in their respective bedrooms with only candy & tylenol at their fingertips and I am no where to be found – fear not. Everything is okay.

Most likely I’ve locked myself in the root cellar with a loaf of bread and am eating my way into mothering oblivion. It’s what has to happen at the hands of parenting self-preservation sometimes.

I don’t even know why I’m taking the time to write this e-mail considering I got NOTHING done this morning and I have two trillion things to complete within the next couple hours.

Sorry to the both of you – you will most likely be coming home/over to a disaster zone.

That is, unless the preceding scenario happens to occur.

Which it may if these two precious little girls continue in their crying, teething, fussing ways.

Dear God! Why am I still sitting?

Except, in my imagination this really happens and is not simply a potential of events to describe how horrid my day must have been.  It was only in recent weeks that my mom sent this e-mail back to me, reminding me that not all days are lemon poppyseed muffins and Good Earth tea.  Some days simply are a disaster and this is part of my everyday story with two kids.

Beth’s home, with five kids, ages 1 through 9?  If she were asked about the state of her home she may share the story of her 4th whom she found one afternoon hiding in the pantry, sitting in a bowl she recently peed in, eating away at the bag of chocolate chips (Never let anything get in between you and chocolate my love.  Never!).

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I would share that this woman reads scripture to her children each and every morning as they, as a family, eat oatmeal around the kitchen table.  I would share with you the music, holy chords, she plays for her children each morning before the day begins and school starts and practice gets going and friends stop over.  I would whisper in your ears to watch and pay attention to the way in which she listens, disciplines, honors the individual soul each one of her children carries.  This woman’s home is a home of chaotic loving peace and settled constant activity.

If there is anyone on the face of this planet that is going to sway me into the world of three children, it’s going to be her.  It’s going to be the example of her home and the way in which she and her husband, Brian, love, respect, communicate and recognize the life of each of their children.  They are the example Jake and I look to as we learn to parent our girls and consider a number three.

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So when, a few weeks ago, Beth shared with me out in the garden as we watched our girls eat dirt that two children simply wasn’t enough of an insurance to be assured that I would be taken care of when I grow old, I was floored.

She doesn’t solely look at her children as potential primary caretakers, does she?

No, she doesn’t.

Still, I couldn’t shake the thought though.  Who is going to care for me after Jake dies?

Jake shares often that I think about grief and death more than the average mid-30’s woman and most often I consent to his observation.  I can’t hide the evidence.  As a young girl I was reading Lurlene McDaniel with other girls were reading the Babysitter Club.

And this statistic – seven out of eight men die before their wives, bring new light to the charge for me, as a follower of Jesus, to care for the widow.

Seven out of eight.  

Maybe Beth is on to something.  Maybe two isn’t enough?

When I think back to the last ten years there were seasons when my three sisters and I lived no closer than 700 miles from our parents.  At one time as my parents were living in Michigan, I was overseas and my sisters lived in Kansas City, Seattle and Mexico.

I can’t help but wonder, if my parents were aging, dying, what would have changed in that season?  Who would have come home to care for them?  Would anyone?  If so, how long?  The questions, potential circumstances ruminate in my mind like a raging knitter manipulating her needles.  Up, over, in, out, under, her fingers never stopping move the needles.  They just keep going and moving, operating and rolling over and over again.

Where will Little Tomato and Sweet Basil be when we grow old?  Will they be able, willing, to care for my aging mind when Jake is gone and on any given day I could be found outfitting purple hose and rain boots to bed, unable to bathe myself, leaving half sliced sleeping pills lying next to the lazy-boy for mice to take to their rave parties in the basement?

Shouldn’t I take advantage of these bursting fertile ovaries while they’re still working and increase my chances that I will be cared for by our children and not left to fend for myself under the neglectful guise of Medicare?

I’m not the only one concerned.

NPR recently shared (okay, NPR’s not off all the time) a story (Boomer Housemates Have More Fun) about baby boomer aged women who are finding themselves unmarried, divorced or widowed as they mature in age.  Their story is a story of hope.  A story of community and a willingness to bend the traditional arch of care taking.  Their story got me thinking.

Although the idea of living with a number of like-aged women appeals to me on some level and I’m filled with hope in the idea of having the flexibility to adapt to a community based life, the hope of our children caring for me/us is a bit more appealing(ish).  A bit more like home, perhaps.

The conversation continues.

Have thoughts or ideas of your future (specifically who will care for you when you’re old and gray) influenced your choice to have more children or not?

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Epilogue:  Jake has just shared he’s making his way toward bed for the evening.  I still have another 20 minutes in me.  A quick edit, an e-mail or two.  I told him I was writing about who is going to take care of me when I get old.  His response:  “Good luck with that.”  It presents as though I may need a caretaker when I get older regardless if Jake is alive or not.  Maybe it is time for number three?

Previous posts on The Struggle For Three:
The Struggle For Three {Discerning whether or not to keep makin’ babies}
The Struggle for Three {Beginning A Courageous Conversation}

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7 thoughts on “The Struggle For Three {Insurance In Kids}

  1. Haha….I hadn’t even thought of it. A valid argument, although it could also be said the more people there are, the more fingerpointing may go on. With one child, there’d be no question who’s responsibility it was to help take care of mom. With more….well…..someone else will probably do it….right? 🙂

  2. My great “aunt” Frances passed away a few months ago. She and my biological great aunt (who passed away in 1999) paired up in the late 50’s after the war. They were both veterans. Neither had kids. They lived long, good lives in their Methodist retirement home in OKC. My mom visited about twice a year and flew out after Frances’ death to sort out her affairs. Frances, though she had no kids other than her dogs, was never alone and never suffering right up until the end. Her community was there. And she had settled into a place that could help care for her medical needs, which were minimal. She had lots of awesome friends and extended family that loved her and was around her.

    Have more kids if you want. Or don’t. But not because you think there won’t be anyone to care for you when you’re old.

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