I Didn’t Have My Children to Make the Polar Bears Weep
posted by: gretchen
Once upon a time when my husband and I announced our fifth child was on the way, a friend asked if we knew what caused that. (We now have nine kids).
I told him I suspected it had something to do with my practice of washing my underwear with my husband’s.
I regretted the snarky comeback immediately, but I know why I unleashed my frustration.
The misconceptions, prejudices, and near-constant scrutiny of our choice to have a large family is tiresome and often grounded in ignorance. Only slack-jawed rubes from the sticks, religious zealots, or those taking advantage of the government and natural resources have large families, right? Sometimes, people who see our family assume all of the above. I’m thinking we should start carrying banjos and moonshine jugs around, just to complete the effect.
The questions are relentless:
Are you Mormon/Catholic? Do you take government assistance? Are you rich/What does your husband do? Don’t you know the world’s population is out of control? What do you drive? Do you homeschool? Can you remember all their names? Are they all yours? Do they all have the same father?
We’ve been audibly counted in various languages. One time, when we went to Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, we were the freaks on the corner, garnering more stares than the dude with dreadlocks eating fire off flaming arrows. I almost took off my youngest son’s hat to pass around for spare change.
I don’t mind answering most questions. At this point, I am used to not being able to take our children to buy groceries without being stopped multiple times. But I hate how defensive I can get regarding my family when the questions turn hostile. I love every one of my children and it’s terrible to feel I must defend their very existence on our planet. Some people believe only our first two children have the “right” to be here.
So I find myself breathlessly bragging that on trash day, we have the one of the least amounts on our street—usually one rolling can for eight people. We recycle everything recyclable. We re-use the re-usable. We don’t jet around the world on vacations. In fact, we are respectful of every morsel of food, drop of water, gallon of gas.
The footprints we leave may be a few more than yours.
But they won’t be any deeper.
We are happy to announce our seventh baby is on the way. We anticipate he or she will bring far more to the world than will take from the world.
The greatest resource is human.