Friday, September 11, 2009

Idle chatter

Recently at one of the *many* soccer events baby and I attend, I chatted briefly with two women sitting in front of me. Then, they continued talking to each other: "My neighbor has six kids and is pregnant with number seven, the poor thing. And they're all, like, under the age of nine." Her voice was heavy with disapproval.

Therein lies the difference between women who should and should not have large families. I have never, ever, considered my children a burden. They are all gifts beyond measure to me, and because of them I am the luckiest person I know. Sometimes I feel overworked, but never, ever EVER have I wished them not here. To me they are jewels of the universe. I cannot overstate this -- I. Cherish. Each.

I visit Rabbi Schmuley's website now and then. In his writings about his large family he refers to the dismissive attitude he and his wife encountered with the birth of their eighth child. He poses the question: why is it acceptable and enviable to own boats, jets, take extensive and expensive vacations, drape oneself in costly dress, and essentially display conspicuous consumption, yet to channel one's resources into the creation and raising of children is frowned on? How did having money become more socially important than raising children?

Is it a knee jerk reaction to climate change? Maybe, but most larger sized families I know live pretty austere lives by sheer financial necessity. It's true we use up more oxygen than smaller families, but we also recycle our possessions until they can be used no more, take fewer airplane rides, consume less commercially prepared foods, and in our case, live in smaller homes. It is extremely difficult to accurately assess a single person's impact on the environment since we all live differently. Will Emmeline leave a bigger mark on the earth than someone who came from a small family? I don't know. But I know she is supposed to be here, and I know she is deeply loved.

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