Monday, February 16, 2009

Wild And Crazy

Anyone seen this article yet? It's a not-bad piece on the subject of why people have large families and what other people's reactions are to them; but I can't help thinking that the article should have linked to my blog. I'm sure New York Times readers want to be regaled with stories of mice and vomit, don't you?

No? Well, maybe it's easier for journalists these days to throw around high-falutin' theories about families with lots of kids - selfishness, polygamy, fundamentalism - without regard for the facts on the ground, as it were. No wonder print is dead.

[I've said that before, I know; but it's one of my favorite lines from Ghostbusters. So bear with me.]

Let's face it - anyone reading my (numerous) posts about vomit would have to discount the "people with large families are selfish" theory. Selfish people don't willingly put themselves in the position of having to clean up puke for years on end. And Larry's and my unparalleled devotion to one another (ugly chairs notwithstanding) would lay the polygamist stereotype to rest. And religious fundamentalism? Yeah - there are a lot of us Jewish-Catholic fundamentalists around.

So maybe it's simpler than that, why people have large families. Maybe (and I believe, oh august editors at the New York Times, that linking to my humble little blog would have provided ample proof of this theory)...where was I? Oh, yes... maybe we are just a little crazy.

That's it - the insanity defense. I rest my case.

And for a better (i.e., more intelligent) read on the subject, go here.


  1. you know, i had the same thoughts on families with many kids (some sort of weird religion involved and all).

    but reading your (and other) mom's blogs helped me to change my mind! thank you!!


  2. "broods tinier yet more precious"

    Are they saying that if you have fewer children you value them more? 'Cause that's what it sounds like, and HOW DARE THEY IMPLY THAT?? I see from the article that I'm on the borderline: three children, apparently, is not in the land of crazyville (although you wouldn't know it by some of the reactions we got). So I guess I'm protesting their insulting text from my borderline position.

    Honestly. Like you don't love and value the third (or sixth, or eighth) as much as you love and value the first. Hmph.

  3. At some point I hope to have a second child. I'm looking forward to discovering that it's possible to feel an overwhelming sense of love... again. It seems impossible to imagine there's that much love about. But then, I never 'got' the mother/daughter relationship either until I had Peaches.

    Having read both articles, I find it really interesting to think that larger families are likely to be more efficient: less waste, more penny-wise.

    Surely the biggest risk seems to be in crimes against fashion...I've seen some very scary photos of large families in family uniforms. And I'm not talking about the Von Trapps.

  4. Ugh. Even with my two, as they were twins, people always asked how they felt "having to share my love." Whaaaaaa? Really? My love is in such short supply? No, I have plenty of love, my energy is sapped with two, but I can COMPLETELY appreciate (often jealously) families with more numerous kids...the joy must be expontentially wonderful. :)
    (When no one is throwing up! ;) )

  5. I read this and thought it smacked of snottiness and elitism. I didn't really large families offended so many. It must be because we're homeschoolers and run with all kinds.

  6. These days, large families will be the norm with blended families, fertility drugs, etc. If you're a parent, you never run out of love. DUH!

  7. Then we're crazy, too! I told hubby when we got married I wanted a large family. I said I wanted 6 or 7 children, he was thinking about 4 or 5 children. So I said 10 or 12. He thought I was joking. :)

    What else would we spend our money on? Crap that will not be worth what we paid for it in a few years or children? I'd rather have the kids.

  8. My father has one sibling. Between them they have 10 children. My uncle had 4, my father had 6 (3 from each of his 2 marriages). We never felt deprived of love or attention. Being left to our own vices at times, prompted creativity on our part and we happily thought outside the box when playing.
    I happily join the ranks of the insane, but then again, I was already insane from having a pair of teenagers at once. The most difficult transition is going from one child to two. Three and beyond just slide into the mix. To quote my friend "After 3, what's one more?" Apparently it's a reason to gawk and provoke argument.

  9. As a fellow mother of six, I will also join you on the insanity plea.

    Selfish? Selfish. What an ignorant ass. I'm not even going to dignify the article with a click.

    My capacity to love just has expanded with every lovable person who has come into my life: siblings, step-parents, friends, students, teachers, and yep, kids. I can only assume I'll be able to rummage up some love for the grandkids when they come along too.

  10. I thought the article was interesting but the comments were maddening. I have six children, but if there is one thing I am not it's selfish. I dream of being selfish!

    And the reason I have six children? Uh, I don't know. There was some sort of biological force that took over my brain and INSISTED that I absolutely must have six children.

  11. I am the oldest of 5 children. Mostly when we ere all out together I heard "They must be Catholic." We aren't, my parents were just no good at the rhythm method.

    None of us planned - all of us loved and cared for.

  12. I come from a big family and would have had one of my own but we were only able to have two. I have always longed for a big family. Guess I'll just enjoy reading about yours!

  13. Raising and taking care of a lot of kids seems like the opposite of selfish.

  14. I definitely started getting the comments when we hit 4. That's the magic number alright. Three you're a big family, 4 must have been an oops, and now at 5 we're just certifiable. I actually thought that quote, "broods tinier yet more precious" was spot on in this "small family each child is the center of the universe" mentality that seems so rampant. It seems to point at the elitist attitude others have referenced. The implication that larger families don't care as much or they would have stopped sooner and focused all their love and adoration on one child. Anyway, thanks for a good read. The octuplet mom has really got me thinking about society's opinion of large families, and its self-given right to try to force that opinion on others. It's such a personal thing.

  15. Molly, you make a very good point about child centered living. Plenty of people think I'm nuts because I say I live with my children, not FOR them. I brought them into this world but that doesn't require me to lavish them with every whim. I also know someone that thinks *I* am supposed to clean up after those crumb crushers. And this person wonders why their adult children aren't speaking to them?

  16. WE want lots of kids because we like kids and we like being parents. I don't see what makes that hard for some people to grasp - and those studies that came out last year said that having children made parents more unhappy UNLESS they were the kind of parents who had lots of kids. THEN IT MADE THEM HAPPIER. Interesting!

  17. You're right the second article is a lot more informative. Don't people get that it takes all kinds to make this world go round? How boring would it be if everyone actually had 2.1 children or whatever our national average is?

  18. I have an aunt and uncle that have nine. It really really gets my goat when in conversation this comes up and people stand open-mouthed and start asking THE questions...religion, sanity, etc.

    They have nine because they are absolutely in LOVE with their children. I often tell people that their family has such "good" kids (because it's true) because they know how loved they are and how involved their parents are, etc. They help each other and they know the world doesn't revolve around them.

    I just can't get over how people don't get that some people SHOULD have large families because they are SO GOOD at being a family, so happy to be parents. And some people with two or three shouldn't have them at all because they don't even like being parents.

    okay, I'll stop now...

    ugh, can you tell this gets me all worked up? OK, just checking.

    I want another baby :)

  19. One of my co-workers didn't wait for me to have more than three. Because my kids are only 18 months apart, she started hinting that "it doesn't have to be this way" or "there's something you can do about it" when I was pregnant with my second. In her mind, the only reason this could've happened was because I did not know birth control existed.

  20. I think the only time it's wrong to have a big family is when you can't handle it--every family should have the right to stop reproducing when it doesn't suit them to have more kids. We stopped at 3 because that was our limit (actually, MY limit--it was stop having babies or have more babies and commit me to the nearest institution). I have friends who quit at 1 and friends who quit at 10 and they're JUST FINE and their families function beautifully.

  21. Did anyone see last week's Supernanny where the family had 10 kids and the mom wanted two more to make an even 12, even though the dad didn't want more kids and was a closet alcoholic? The family structure had completely collapsed and no one was happy, especially the older kids. It was very sad.

    To be fair, watching Supernanny can completely put you off having kids altogether.

  22. I am new here! What a great blog :)

  23. I'll probably get comment slapped for this, but - I was one of nine and we were all pretty emotionally neglected. My mom was so busy and emotionally drained from caring for all of us that she really only had time to take care of our basic physical needs. She was completely emotionally shut off.

    I understand it now, how draining it must've been, how hard it must have been for her, but I didn't understand it at the time, and I vowed I'd have a small family.

    I think maybe the difference is that my mom didn't really choose to have a large family, she just felt obligated to have a large family. (We're mormon, and this was back when the church was heavy into the "no birth control" stance. Nowadays, they say it's a private matter between the husband and wife, so larger families are truly a matter of choice.)

    I think some people are definitely equipped to have large families, and some people definitely AREN'T. Having a choice in the matter is huge.

  24. Don't worry, Sue - if anyone slaps you, I'll slap her back.

    I think the point here is that you cannot just generalize and say, "It's bad for kids to have a lot of siblings." Sometimes it works really well, sometimes it doesn't. But you can say the same for smaller families, too. There's no hard and fast rule to follow. So we parents of large families resent being stereotyped as either selfish, or "baby-crazy," or religious fundamentalist nutcases (and religious fundamentalists resent being stereotyped as nutcases, but that's a different post).

  25. Interesting post. Interesting articles. For some reason they all stuck in my head and had me up late, thinking deep thoughts. Sadly, I came up with no profound thoughts of my own, but still, the pondering was good.

  26. I would have more but my husband is done and I do believe it needs to be a mutual decision. I will say, though, that I took a parenting class and with, what I view as a meager number, three kids, I had the largest family in the class. The majority of them had only one child and had no plans to have more.

    I also dislike the backlash on the larger families. One of my cousins grew up in a family of 7. I LOVED being at their house. It was fun and always something to do and someone to do it with. I feel like people look at my three and forgive me the motherly need to have "just one more" but wo unto me if we should have a fourth.


    When did it become okay for people to be so up in each other's faces over such a personal matter?

    Perhaps I should just tell them I'm doing it for the welfare check. That they would understand and it would keep their world boundaries in place and secure.

    Sorry for the long rant.