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How many kids?

It's great to see so many of my friends messaging me about how to get started with their New Year's resolution to run, get fit, buy a bike, whatever. It amuses me to think back to 2009 when I first decided to cross "marathon" off my bucket list (I hate that term) and how I had no clue I'd end up in love with endurance sports. I was so ignorant and trying to get my hands on all the information I could. Struggling with my workouts, training schedule, wondering if I was doing it right or could finish the race I'd signed up for. Fast forward to 2013 where I not only have the confidence to say I can run 26.2 miles, but the confidence to not go with conventional wisdom on certain things.

So many people I know are just getting into the marathon and running world. It's so refreshing to see them in that newbie spot with a whole world ahead. It's also a strange feeling to be back in their shoes...but with the stakes a beginning triathlete this season. It's like some sort of karma wheel of destiny. The fitness version of samsara?

And parenting is no different. I have a mix of friends. Couples thinking about kids. Couples who are pregnant and about to have their first. Couples who are about to have their second. Couples who are way ahead of us in the child department.

Lately, the air has had a weird "how many" vibe in it. I've been surrounded by discussions on all sides about how many children to have. The group of moms at our recent playgroup. After grabbing beer with a friend in Lincoln Square the other night. A recent Dad's Roundtable chat. And, in the middle of all this and unintentionally, Kelly and I have been having the discussion, too.

I won't go over all the plus and minus comments I've received--or made myself. That's really not the point of this post. It's more about the bittersweet nature of being a parent. Maybe it's unique to really loving it...I suppose there are probably a great many people out there who knew for sure after the first month of their first child's life that they wouldn't need more. But there's this horrible feeling about the joy and love you feel for your kids but trying to make the rational choice about whether to stop or have more. Not just can you afford it or truly wish to upgrade your SUV to a minivan. There are intangibles, too, that are quite existential and unusually reflective--forcing you to sit down and see your entire life at a glance and analyze who you really are deep down inside. What does the future look like?

You heard it here first though, we're selling our diaper covers to a friend who may be able to put them to use still. The gene pool has two members in it from which future generations can repopulate after the apocalypse. We're gonna call it day. It's not that we don't want more. I think both Kelly and I would keep going if we lived in a 6 bedroom house and we'd met 10 years earlier.

We always tease, however, that 10 years earlier we would have hated each other. Our little family happened at the right time and is complete at 4-plus-hound. No awkward middle child syndrome. No uneven balance of gender in the house.

I have Ironman and Disney World trips I'm looking forward to. Kelly wants to travel the country on one of those old people bus trips where you go to the barbed wire museum. We don't want to be graduating our last from high school when we're ready for a nursing home.

Cole and Leda, if you read this one day, you're fabulous. Look at it this way, nobody has to sit in the middle of the backseat on family car trips. You're welcome.