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Why You Should Go Ahead And Have That Fourth Baby

You’ll be surprised how that last one will be the one to bring you together.

I am one of three children, the oldest. My brothers, the other two, were born 18 months apart and three years after me, and If you met me you would see I have both strong oldest daughter and only child energy because that was how it felt. If my mom had just gone ahead and had that fourth kid, I could have had a sister, or at the very least a much younger brother who I could bend more easily to my will.

What I’m telling you is, if you already have three kids, go ahead and have that fourth. I did, so I know. Which is sort of the best thing about that fourth kid, the knowing. Still, the benefits are manifold:

1. People will think you know everything.

Not your children, obviously. They know you don’t know anything. But if you have four kids and you’re sitting around with a group of parents and someone says, “Does anyone have any thoughts on blah blah blah babies?” You always get to answer. Sometimes this can backfire. Like when someone needs a specific answer to a problem like how to know if your child is teething or how to get your child to sleep through the night. I can tell you that after four kids I really still don’t know. But if you meet me, you will think I know. Which I appreciate.

2. You’ll have on-site, built-in play dates.

This is better than it sounds because the worst thing about play dates is organizing them and, with only the rarest of exceptions, trying to find some sort of common ground with the other parent. In an ideal world you would each have a perfectly behaved child who was desperate, simply desperate, to decoupage self-portraits onto hand-thrown pottery mugs while you ate chocolate cake and half-watched, but this does not happen. If you have ready-made friends for your kids in your house, aka your other kids, you really don’t even have to plan anything. You can let them dump a box of LEGO on the living room floor, say “have at ‘er” and make yourself a cup of coffee.

3. Avoid the triangle of sadness.

When I was in school I had two best friends. Actually this is a lie. I had two girls I sometimes played with and one week we would be best friends and the next week it would be my turn to be left out. Whose turn it was was decided for us by the Apex predator of our group, the Supreme Ruler with her doe eyes and ruthless social judgments at the ready. It was the same for me at home in many ways. Two little brothers, two best friends. Two votes against one. What I wouldn’t have given to have a backup to tag in.

When my four kids fight, there is no tie breaker. No Supreme Ruler. It is true that allegiances shift on a regular basis but I have yet to see one person be left out in the cold. Because someone always has a backup. And now that I think on it, I have four.

4. Skip lines!

When you have four kids you stand out, and if they start fighting or acting up or being generally a nuisance all anyone wants to do is get rid of you. So say hello to the express check-in at the airport. Grocery store customers nervously passing you through and saying, “No please, I insist you go first.” The sheer number of you is enough to part the waters, trust me.

5. Get out of anything.

Don’t want to sign up for extra volunteer time at school? Sorry, four kids. Too tired to go out for drinks/dinner/that new spin class everyone swears is going to change your life? Sorry, four kids. Want compliments just for getting your hair kind of combed in the morning? Four kids.

Yes, it sucks having to find a car with third-row seating when you feel more like a Mini Cooper kind of girl. And you will never feel more outnumbered than the night your kids all get the stomach flu from the same “Kids Eat Free” night at the local roadhouse that suddenly feels like it was not worth the $15 in savings. But I’m going to let you in on one final secret. It was better than it looked every time.

Our kids help each other. They occupy each other’s spaces in ways that are separate from me. Once a friend dropped by on a whim for a surprise visit and over our tea she noted that my house was quieter than she expected. None of us wanted to live in chaos, though — not my four kids and not me. We had never talked about it but I guess we must have all agreed to be in it together — the shared project of our family.

And this is the main reason to have that fourth kid. You’ll be surprised how that last one will be the one to bring you together.