December 1, 2020

The Right To Breed Again and Again and Again…

Me During a Polar Plunge Defending the Right to Birth Control

Me During a Polar Plunge Defending the Right to Birth Control

My friend’s neighborhood is awash in whispering.  The local mothers are passing along word that their neighbor is having – gasp — her tenth child.

“She is a wonderful mother and her kids are all quite lovely and well behaved,” my friend qualifies to me, but adds: “but honestly, what was she thinking, having another child?”

There it is, out in the open:  Mothers chiding mothers for taking things too far.  The local mothers gossip amongst themselves, wondering what would possess an educated 21st century woman in a well-to-do suburb to have so many children?

The answer?  Religion, perhaps.  The woman is apparently devoutly religious.  They mothers settle on religion as the likely overriding push for their friend to continue her own baby boom.  But can her decision to continue the growth of her family at an exponential rate come from some other psychological yearning?  Maybe.

Here’s what I wonder:  If I stand for a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, which I do (see picture above) must I commend a woman no matter her choice – no children or ten?  Shouldn’t a woman have the right to birth control – or not-  if she so chooses?  How many children are too many?  How man children can a family have before it taxes the parents to the point of incompetent parenting or irresponsible civic member?  How many children should one community have to support from one family?  Should public schools impose an extra tax on families with more than a certain number of children in the local system? Moreover, when a woman has ten children (or more – I’m picking a random number here) is it always her choice, or is it sometimes her husband’s or her religion’s or her family’s or culture’s choice?

As always, especially here, I navigate some tricky waters.  Isn’t this all worth some debate though?

I have had many friends from large families (of five or more siblings) and they all defend their experience in a those families as very rewarding.

With fertility treatments on the rise and on a technological fast forward treadmill, should we expect multiple births, or multiple multiple births to be the norm?  Will huge families make a comeback?  Are they already making a comeback?

Okay, I’ll stop asking so many questions.  My take:  This all needs to be discussed and debated.  Public institutions, communities, friends and neighbors should review the merits of very large families (or for that matter, childless families).  More research should be done to understand the physical, emotional, psychological, and civic consequences of multiple offspring.  Only then can parents make informed decisions about the number of children they should (or shouldn’t) have for the benefit of themselves, their offspring, their communities and the world at large.

 

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Forging My Own Kid-less Path

Me with my first dog and only sister

I’ve never been a follower, so it’s not surprising to most who know me that I’m willing to swim against the childbearing current. Or perhaps having children is more like a fashion that never goes out of fashion?

When I was young, my teachers would find me working on a project not related to our assignment, and most of them would surrender to the fact that I flourished more when I did my own thing.

Which one more irreverent?

In my age five ballet photos I’m the tall skinny girl doing the opposite moves from the rest of the class.   When the instructor suggested to my mom that perhaps another kind of class would be more appropriate for my free spirit moves, my mom assured me not to worry about being kicked out and reminded me that there’s nothing wrong with dancing to my own music.

I’ve been dancing ever since, and though my moves are no more graceful than age five I still can’t sit still when music plays.  If you don’t look a little like a fool when you dance, how much fun could you really be having?

In college, my creative writing teacher and advisor would give an assignment and then usually qualify by saying to me: “Susan, you do what you want. It’ll turn out better that way.” He knew that artificial parameters would always limit my creativity.

In the 70’s everyone in my school decided to wear Topsider shoes. I pleaded with my mother to get a pair.

“But Evvv-er-yone has them mom.  Everyone but me.”

“Since when are you such a follower,” she said. “They don’t support your high arches, and for the last time, no.”

Right, I thought, don’t be such a follower. That’s not like you.

I’m proud of myself always dancing and for not blindly following most of my friends into motherdom.

which mom? which non-mom?

For many it’s the right choice.  For me it was not, and thank goodness I took the time to critically analyze my needs and capabilities to make an informed choice.

A look at some of my childhood photos reveals the rebel in me.  Can you tell which one of these girls became a super-mom and which one remained irreverent and childless?

What did your childhood photos reveal about your breeding future?  Do share!

My sister, the super mom

My sister, the super mom