Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On My Soapbox: Larger Families

I read an article that was posted on February 8, NY Times article "And Baby Makes How Many?" I am just getting to it, but I have the benefit that all comments are now closed, so I was able to print them all out. I was going to wait to blog about this until I had read through all the comments, but 1/3 of the way through, I get the gist of what they all say and am too disgusted to wait any longer.

Since having the triplets, we have gotten a LOT of comments about having a lot of kids. Because we have the extra freak show of having triplets along with the fact that we have six (gasp!) children total, people are sometimes too in awe to be too rude.

I am blessed to live in an area where larger families are not uncommon. I have a friend who has seven - she had her sixth and seventh a few months before we had the triplets. I know another mom who has six boys. I know many, many women with three or more children. It's actually pretty common in this area. Thankfully. Because I do not hear the comments that I read this afternoon.

I am appalled that people honestly think that because we are a larger family, we are a "drain" on social welfare programs and the environment. One person actually had the gall to say that "unless you lived on a farm, have "Oprah money" or have a former nun as a governess, then you have no right" to have more than two children because you can't possibly afford them. What?!?! These people consider themselves educated, but they know nothing about the financial state of most larger families. Unfortunately, Nadya Suleman has done a lot to perpetuate those beliefs (and I am not going to get into her - that woman needs a whole lot of prayers and that's all I'll say on the subject) and nothing to help people see that families who choose to have more than two children are normal, hard working people.

Steve and I both were floored that the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi - a mother of five) made the comment that we should have condoms in the stimulus package to "help reduce government spending." Know what that means??? Population control for "poorer" families...they shouldn't be blessed with children because they can't afford them.

Here's a few interesting facts about our family to debunk some of the myths.

As for the environmental impact:

We recycle everything we possibly can - and have since long before it became the "popular"thing to do or we had this many children. I was a member of S.A.V.E. in high school and feel very passionate about doing my part to reduce our carbon footprint.

We cloth diaper Hannah full time and cloth diaper the triplets part time and are working on building up enough stock to do it full time. I am concerned about the amount of diapers I have put into landfills and am working at reducing it greatly. Aidan was the only child of mine that was not cloth diapered at all...and I am ashamed to admit that.

We compost all scraps that are compostable - and use our compost in our garden. My kids love helping with it.

We garage sale and use hand me downs for our children. Not because we can't afford to clothe them in new clothing - we can. I feel passionately that we live in a highly wasteful society and my garage sale bargains are proof of it. I find almost new (and sometimes new) clothing at sales all the time. By using hand me downs until they are at the point that noone can use them anymore, I am reducing the amount that gets thrown away. Oh, and when they aren't wearable anymore? They make excellent rags for cleaning.

I use natural cleaning products (Simple Green, Green Works, and homemade with vinegar, baking soda, etc) whenever possible - including in my laundry. I also have learned to dilute many cleaners - they are just as effective, less harsh, last longer, and have a less toxic effect on the earth.

Yes, we drive Bertha and she is huge and a gas hog. However, she sits in the driveway if we are not full. We do not go about with Bertha without having a full load because that's just silly and wasteful. Many people choose to drive SUV's with only one or two children - or none at all. (Case in point, we bought Bertha from a family with two children.)

My children share bedrooms (another gasp!). This means we do not live in a huge house with unused rooms - we use every square inch of our home.

As for our finances:

We are not on any type of assistance. We do not receive welfare, we do not receive food stamps, we do not receive WIC, we do not receive housing assistance (we own our home), we do not receive any state health insurance (we have our own health insurance that we pay), we do not receive free/reduced lunches. Not only do we not receive any of this, we do not qualify. That would mean, for those unable to infer, that we can afford the six children we have. We also do not have any debt, minus our home. We have no credit card debt, no furniture debt, no vehicle debt - nothing except our mortgage.

Our children get to participate in other activities just like children with one or two children. Aidan is in baseball this year, Austin has gone to camp multiple times through our church and Boy Scouts, Austin went to Acquire the Fire, they do not miss out on opportunities just because we have six children. If something comes up that they really want to do, we do everything possible to make sure they can do it.

As for our time constraints:

My children are well loved. Many commenters felt that families with more than two children never got one on one time. We are in a unique situation (triplets) and I can still say my children get one on one time. I take one to the store with me. I make dates with my children for different things. I take one to a movie. I take one to the library. I read one a book. And beyond that, I spend a lot of time with my children as a family, also. I read to them, I tuck them in at naptime and bedtime, I pray with them (also whenever they are stressed or need extra prayers - I set aside time to do that), I get down on the floor and play with them, we eat all meals as at least a partial family, we nightly have supper together as a whole family, we play games, we go on walks, the list goes on and on...my husband and I spend more time with our children than most families with one child do. We take vacations together, we go places - I do not sit at home and quarantine my children 24/7.

My children know they are loved and know they are taken care of.

Education:

I am not uneducated, as many people believe to be the case in larger families. I am not "stupid" or ignorant. I am of slightly above average intelligence. I am a homemaker and I am very proud of that fact. My husband is a professional with a great job in a field he loves and has a college education. He is brilliant and by no means could ever be mistaken as "ignorant."

I believe that people today are very selfish and have been conditioned to think that if you do not have the newest, biggest, best whatever, then you just do not matter. I pray my children never have views like that on life. It's an empty existence, that's for sure.

To close, I am quoting on the of the comments from the article because I completely agree:

"Societal norms of today have lost the family friendly foundation that built our great nation. Our kids are suffering and our society has lost it's way because of it." (made by a mother of one)

5 comments:

Ash said...

yeah for you Trista!!! I always wanted to have four children, and now haivng just one I am realizing I am too selfish to have any more at this point. The life you live is amazing to me and when I finally get to a point of selflessness then maybe our family can grow and be as healthy as yours. I feel like people who have 2 kids probably are saying they could not afford 6 children because they already live above their means and do have to have the biggest newest etc like you said and would not be able to do what you are doing because they are poor managers of money, time, household etc. You keep on preaching it sista! And keep reminding other "normal" families how they can help with the environmental impact by following your lead!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice article Trista!!

Love,
Mom

Becky DeMent said...

AWESOme article! WOMAN! can i copy it???? i want to post it :)....i LOVED your outlook and your ability to put it all down for those of us 'larger families" that dont' deserve the bad rap we get . And by the way.....we are expecting #8 in June! LOL........love ya!

Gina said...

AMEN!

Love,
Gina

Brandi said...

I admit I tend to stare at large families, but not in judgment - more in awe! I have trouble making it through the day with just my two so large families amaze me (in a good way).

I'm sorry you've felt put into the position of having to defend your lifestyle. People suck.