My 7-year-old always wants more.
He wants more toys, even though he doesn’t play with half the ones he has. He wants more dessert, even when he can barely ask for it because his mouth is already full of dessert. He wants more time before bed, which he usually gets by tortuously extending the bedtime routine. All this demand for more makes me want less — less whining, less stress, less kids!
Of course, children aren’t the only ones who want more. Adults have the same obsession, especially parents.
Kids require just about everything we’ve got. And when you have kids, you often find yourself wanting more to accommodate both their lives and yours. We want more free time. We want more money (who doesn’t?). We want more sleep, more booze, more babysitters. But, perhaps most of all, we want more space.
Everything diminishes when you have children — except your happiness, of course! And your laundry. Your bank account dwindles, your patience disappears, and your house seems to literally shrink. Not only are you suddenly sharing space with more people, those people require a shitload of stuff!
Before you have kids, you were probably happy with a relatively small living space — a studio, a one-bedroom apartment, a small house. Then you got married, and you combined your life with your spouse’s, and things got bigger, but still, not that much bigger. You still only needed the one bedroom! Then you got pregnant, and you filled out the gift registry for your baby shower, and you mentally assembled a crib, and you panicked.
So you got yourself some more space. Then you got pregnant again. And you panicked again. Because now, having lived through it once, you knew that it wasn’t just a crib that was coming with the baby, it was clothes, and diapers, and books, and toys, and more clothes, and more books, and more toys. And lots and lots of poop.
You need even more space!
But do you really? Unless you have 100 kids — shout out to the Duggar family! — I bet you don’t. Not that it stopped me.
Before The Hammer was born, we moved into a larger apartment. We got the extra space we needed to accommodate Baby No. 2, and then we promptly filled every nook and cranny with stuff, and now we still don’t have enough space.
But I don’t think we need more. At some point, we need to stop. Otherwise it will never be enough!
Sometimes you’re better off making do with what you have, because the more you get, the more you want, and the more you get and the more you want. It’s the disease of more, and it’s contagious. Infecting our kids with a constant need for stuff, with the idea that having more is necessary for happiness and fulfillment, is dangerous — much more so than having a bowling ball fall on your head because it’s shoved up at the top of a jammed closet!
Kids don’t need nearly as much as we think they do. Many of us get so caught up in making sure our children have everything, and in some cases making sure they have everything we didn’t have, that we forget how little they actually need. We forget how resourceful and imaginative they are. They need our attention and our affection far more than they need the newest gadget or the next action figure.
So the next time you get jealous of someone with a bigger house, or wonder if you need the latest gadget, step back and look around. Chances are you don’t. Chances are you already have everything you need.
We should stop worrying about expanding the size of our space and focus on maximizing what we have instead. Besides, the smaller your space, the easier it is to wrap your arms around it.
A slightly modified version of this post originally ran on Scary Mommy.