Jewish World Review May 3, 2001 / 9 Iyar, 5761
To some folks having four little ones is just so, well, gauche. To them one or two is fine (and in fact more people are choosing to stop at those numbers). Three is getting real close to the edge but polite society gives you a bit of a pass there, perhaps rationalizing that the last must have been an "accident."
But with four, I've crossed into new territory. I guess it's clear I really wanted to do this.
Now, I know there are a lot of people who have smaller or much smaller families for a host of reasons from simply being happy with one or two kids, to fertility problems, a special needs child, financial or other considerations. I'm not talking about such families, only about the people - and apparently there are a lot of them - who look with disapproval, outright disdain, or just plain pity on my husband and me for having our little bunch.
First, there are the environmental wackos who think that people suck up resources. They see each new child as an additional drain on the world. The opposite, of course, is true - in a free society people are free to be resources, to create resources, or as the late economist Julian Simon put it in the title of one of his books, the human mind is "The Ultimate Resource." Still these folks gripe, sometimes directly to me, that I'm having too many kids. I wonder which one they think I should return? Funny, I don't see them volunteering to exit to make room for a new kid on the block.
Then there are the folks who object to larger families because a) they have one or two kids whom they've allowed to get so out of control, everybody in the household is miserable and they can't imagine themselves, or anyone, having more children. Or b) they don't think any parents can possibly give more than one or two kids "enough attention" - which suggests their kids are getting way too much attention. In any event it's the peaceful, ordered home where children are cherished but not made into icons which is most inviting to everyone, including more kids.
Apparently four children also seems like a few too many to those who think there are other things I could, and really should, be doing. To these folks, it's o.k. for an educated, (part-time) professional woman to have one or two kids as long as they are quickly put into day-care before full-time nursery school etc. "But really, dear," you can almost hear them thinking in my case "don't you want to get onto more important things?"
Such people only pay lip service to valuing children. Several years ago, when I was obviously pregnant with my second child, I was on a panel seated next to a "child-advocate." She asked about the baby and knowing a little something about such "advocates" I told her it was my second little one and (jokingly?) that my husband and I were thus about one-third of the way to our goal. She was horrified, and let me know it. Yes, I had correctly figured she didn't much advocate kids.
A few months ago, before it was obvious to the world that I was pregnant, I had my two youngest at the mall with me. An older, well-dressed woman looked at the girls and said accusingly "my, they are awfully close in age, aren't they?" What, did she want me to go back and time their births differently? Anyway, I watched her shocked face as I confidently explained that their older brother and little sibling on the way were all similarly spaced and I didn't think it was "too close" at all - only wonderful.
And it is wonderful. There is nothing else I would rather be doing then raising these precious little ones. It's not always easy (and no I don't have regular child-care help.) But my husband and I just think having a bunch, even a little bunch of four, is really, really fun - for both the kids and us - and incredibly rewarding too.
I don't know what the future will bring, whether we'll have or adopt more
children. But I do know that I'm sorry for those in this world who for
whatever misguided reason look with disdain or pity upon my already so-called
"large" family. Because such thinking says far more about them than