Sunday, January 01, 2006

Cheaper by the dozen?

Everyone knows the saying "cheaper by the dozen." There's a movie by the same name playing in theaters now. It happens in real life, too, and the effect on everyone involved is something worth exploring.

I met a sweet woman recently with five young children and another on the way. I know a young newlywed woman who wants to have 10 children.

Here I am fretting over my two, struggling to balance family and work and maintain my sanity. I feel silly for this when they can handle so many more, and want to.

I have an interesting perspective on their burgeoning families, and it's not just that I feel overloaded with two most of the time. It's that I'm a child of a very large family.

There are 10 of us, 18 years apart, born to loving parents who provided food, clothing, shelter and love. All 10 of us weren't home together for a whole year, as the second child married while the 10th was still being carried around in our mother's arms.

Now that I have my own two, one might think I would naturally admire my parents for taking such good care of all of us. Look at how we've all grown, married, and had children of our own.

That's true, but all I can think of is how can two parents manage that many children, here when I can barely handle two? The truth is, we the children took care of each other. The older ones of us pretty much raised the younger ones. All the loving intentions in the world can't spread two parents out over that many children with near enough to go around.

That's what I think of now that I am a parent. I wish that I could have a closer relationship with my beloved parents, but the reality is that so do several other people, all clamoring for the attention any child would want.

I do not set out to say how many children a family should and should not have, only to say that from my perspective, two well-meaning parents can be greatly outnumbered.

The saying "cheaper by the dozen" may be true, but at whose expense?

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