Expecting a miracle
We're going to be grandparents, and it hasn't really hit me. It may not sink in until it's time to drive to Utah and see Ross and Kelly and our new granddaughter, Olivia, at the end of this month.
Grandchildren are truly a blessing from above.
They are also not as mathematically likely to occur, especially to me and Beecher.
It's not that our two boys couldn't get a date. Rather, with only two children, our chances are greatly reduced compared to what our chances would have been half a century ago.
The more children, the greater the chance at grandchildren. Especially if the fertility rate doesn't decline.
But since the 1960s, it has steadily declined.
And for a couple of average white parents, our chances are even less than others.
According to the Pew Research Center, since the World War II baby boom, the trend to smaller families has been on the rise.
In the mid-1970s, 40 percent of mothers reaching the end of childbearing years had given birth to at least four children.
My mother, for instance, had eight children. Beecher's mother had five. We didn't think large families were out of the norm.
Now, only 14 percent of mothers have had four or more children. And 40 percent have had just two children.
Of mothers ages 40-44 who have had only one child, that number has doubled since 1976.
When I was growing up, I used to do the math and figure that since my parents had eight children, multiplied by eight children for each, it only stood to reason that my parents would have 64 grandchildren. I needed a calculator to compute the possible great-grandchildren.
Instead, from eight children my parents were blessed with nine grandchildren. On Beecher's side, five children delivered five grandchildren for her parents.
Race is an indicator. The percentage of mothers ages 40-44 who have had three or more children varies when race is considered. Only 27 percent of Asian mothers fit this profile, 33 percent of white mothers, 40 percent of black mothers and 50 percent of Hispanic mothers have had three or more children.
That's another indicator that Olivia is going to be a blessing.
And Ross and Kelly, both in their mid-20s, definitely fit the bill when it comes to age and education trends related to parents.
The average age of a new mother in 1970 was 21 years old. Now, the average age is 26 years. Pew credits the increase in age to the decline in teen births, as today only 7 percent of all births occur to women under the age of 20. In 1990, that share was 13 percent.
And mothers are better educated these days. In 1960, only 18 percent of mothers of infants had any college whatsoever. Today, 67 percent of mothers of infants in the home have had at least some college experience.
Of course, women seek higher education these days much more so than in the 1960s. Then, 49 percent of women ages 15-44 didn't have a high school diploma. Today, only 19 percent in that age group lack a high school diploma, and 61 percent have at least some college experience.
All this is to say, Beecher and I are just average people, from average backgrounds, with average family sizes who are about to have one remarkable miracle come into our lives.
We can't wait, Olivia.
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-325-2838.