“You’re having ANOTHER baby?”, “You’re having another one, so soooooooon?”, “Jeez you guys don’t waste any time hey?”, “Wow you started having kids so young, do you regret it? Don’t you wish you waited?” “You really look like you have your hands full with all them, it must be super tough!”, “Your career must have gone down the toilet on number three hey? There’s really no way back for you from here then is there?”, “Don’t you guys have a TV?” – sound familiar?
Of course it’s always said with an underlying hint of distain and pity. Like, who are you even?
We live in such a planned and regimented society. We plan everything from what we are going to study to our occupations to where we see ourselves in 10 years and right down to how many children we are going to have. We plan and we plan and we plan. Because planning is good right? It gives us a clear vision of where we want to be and helps us achieve the goals we set out to accomplish. Without planning, businesses wouldn’t succeed and things just wouldn’t happen. Flip i would still be in bed and my kids wouldn’t have eaten their breakfast. (Because you see, I planned to go to the shops and buy cereal over the weekend! Go me!)
I’m an avid planner for the most part too – I love to have direction and something to focus on. Without it I can feel a little aimless and lost, like I’ve got nothing to keep my heels in the sand. But I wonder, is that just a bi product of the times we are living in? Are we becoming so good at planning that we can no longer just go with the flow?
Even when we go on holiday, a time where everything should slow down, we drag this kind of mentality along with us. We have conditioned our brains and our bodies to think that they always need to be busy doing something. So instead of just going with the flow and seeing where the days take us, we make mental lists of things to do. We plan. Even though we have no time restraints or urgent deadlines, we move at a frantic pace as though our lives depend on it. I realise that with kids it sometimes makes sense to have an itinerary of things to do over the holidays but my point is merely that we have lost the ability to switch off and not think so hard about every little detail of our lives. To not always have a plan or live in the confinements of that plan.
And the saddest part for me is that we have become the same way when it comes to growing our families. We plan it down to the very last detail, “We will have two kids, one of each, and 1 year and 11 months apart.” We make it sound as simple as putting in an order at our local Mac Donald’s Drive-through. We plan our kids to fit into our perfectly regimented lives. And society backs us all the way.
Which brings me to this story, the reason why I’m writing this post. The other night I met my Italian friend’s mom who is here visiting from Italy. Her name is one of those beautiful long Italian names that’s too hard to say so we were asked to call her Maria (You have to say it with the Italian accent for full effect…. Ma Rria!) I had some very interesting conversations with her regarding her views on family and it made me see how much of a role modern-day society and culture play when making these choices.
Maria was one of 10 children and she herself had 6 kids! I know for some of you that’s your own worst nightmare, but equally so, for many of us it’s a dream. I told her how I desperately wanted another baby (Or 5) and she frankly asked “Well what are you waiting for?’ Of course I, like many of you would have, told her how we planned to have a bigger gap and planned to pay off our renovations and a bit more of our bond. I told her how we planned to get on top of our businesses and get them better established.
And she just had to smile for me to know what she was really thinking. She said,
“Babies are a miracle and so precious. (She kept saying this at different intervals) These things cannot always be the reason you put off making more. You can’t plan everything, sometimes you just need to jump in and do it! Because you will never regret having them – they will only give back to you.”
The way she expressed this was just so beautiful because she made me see how we have become so fixated of the mentality of wanting to have all our ducks in a row and have this picture perfect and neat little life – both before kids and after kids. We plan their futures before we even know our own, we tell ourselves we want to give them the best, that having more children will take away from their privileged and comfortable lives.
I’m all for giving my kids the best life and giving them what we can, but the way she explained growing up with such a big family sounds like an incredible life to me. I’m sure there were some tough times and days where her parents wondered if they would make it to the end of the month. But the way she talks about her own childhood and her own children now and the early years of raising them, made me realise that she has zero regrets and loved being a mom to so many children. It also made me realise that it’s ok for some women to still want that.
If you can afford it (even at a stretch) then what is stopping you from having more kids? There is more to life than private education, brand new designer clothes, a perfectly styled home and a full bank account. Embracing the joys of a larger than average family offers you a different kind of wealth: The bond of sibling love (and rivalry), a connection to a big and diverse family, festive christmases spent together around a gigantic rowdy table, happy noise filling your beautifully chaotic home, a sense of knowing you have a tribe to support you. It’s so many memories and special moments shared between each other, ones that money and a perfect life of comfort could never replace. I get kids are expensive and there will always be sacrifices, but at what “cost” are you saying “no more”?
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t plan their children and be irresponsible – thats not what I’m saying at all. I’m just saying that we mustn’t be too quick to follow the norms of modern day culture where two kids, with a neat little house and white picket fence is considered the thing to do. Don’t be put off because you are scared people will judge you for wanting a fourth or fifth kid or because last week Sally looked at the new pregnant mom at Moms group with four kids in tow and snidely whispered to the other moms ” She has her hands full, I don’t know how on earth she does it? She always looks so stressed!” or “How on earth does she even take care of all of them?” And we shouldn’t let the mentality that you will never be good at anything beside being a mother ever again sneak in and hinder your desire for more kids either. Society tells woman they have to choose, that having more than two kids will effect their careers and their roles in the work place. I say prove them the hell wrong and show people you don’t have to choose, that you are the queen of your own castle and you call the shots.
Agata, Marie’s daughter (last child) says it saddens her to think how the numbers have literally halved with each generation. Maria’s mother had 10 children, Maria had 6 and Agata has had 3.
I realise that many people have the notion that the planet is already overcrowded so we needn’t bring more people into the world. Or that the world is such a horrible place to bring more children in to. But I don’t see those as valid reasons. And if they are valid reasons to you, then adopt a beautiful baby that has already entered the world but has no family. Grow your family however and which ever way you want, just don’t let society tells you how and when to do it.
Children should not be considered a liability or something that holds you back and if you want to have more than the average 1.5 children and can make some sacrifices in order for that to happen, then I say do it. Because if there is one thing we can’t plan or ever really prepare for, it’s the love that floods our hearts each time we welcome a new life into our hearts, becoming a mother again and again and again.