Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fifteen and counting......

Having a family can be likened to an abstract work of art. It takes work and guts to create, no one can ever fully understand it , its perfected with dedication and careful editing  and is only appreciated once time has passed and you’re pushing up the daisies!

Whilst family advocates lament falling birth rates it appears that a few brave or foolhardy men and women have pledged themselves to career procreation. They’re professional baby-makers and are parents to broods of up to fifteen, claiming that they’d like to keep on going as long as the fertility clock ticks on. These women are prepared to risk their health even after they’ve suffered a series of miscarriages and endured difficult pregnancies. The age gap between each of their children is not more than 12 months so there is a steady line of mouths to feed.
 It’s a conveyor belt of chaos, conundrums, joy and sorrow.

Feeding is an issue since it takes a king’s ransom to nourish and clothe fifteen little people. Individuals they cannot be since there’s no time for Mum or Dad to make them feel special. The elder children play mother to the younger ones whilst Mum busies herself with four under the age of 4!

These women state that they simply love babies and one is so addicted to buying prams that she has 14 stashed away in her basement. I can’t imagine what it would be like to bring up so many and meet each of their needs. Women who use their lady parts to produce in such numbers can also be seeking love. A love that has eluded them all their life. They’ve not received it from their own parents and, in their damaged way, they see sex as a trade off for love. Relationships built on such shaky foundations are prone to subsidence and complete collapse so it might be the case that you’re left holding the baby-ies (all fifteen of them!).

To my mind, producing children in these large numbers and caring for them becomes an onerous task. Even a simple outing has to be planned with military precision. Going to the shops let alone a holiday turns out to be a nightmare unless you have fifteen pairs of eyes trained on little ones who dart around like torpedos.

Fertility drugs are also the cause of larger families. Couples on IVF programmes often produce children in multiples – twins, triplets, quads, quintets, sextuplets, septuplets and octuplets.

Anyone who has seen Octomum, Nadya Suleyman, interviewed will sympathise with the trials of caring for 8 little demanding people. She’s a feisty woman and has my admiration for going it alone but would you really want to?

Of course there’s love and laughter but there’s also resentment and frustration. My grandmother gave birth to fourteen and was a lone parent due to the early demise of my grandfather. Lack of electronic entertainment in the early part of the 20th century was a mitigating factor. 
 One had to keep oneself amused! Large families  were then the norm as women had no other role than to be a wife and mother. In European societies women who had more than 4 children received a commendation from the government. After the war, the State was keen to replenish its human capital.

Legislation will not curb this penchant for procreation and it can’t – it’s a human right to go forth and multiply. You’ll notice that the less well off always have more offspring and perhaps this is a match to their intellectual capabilities. 
 Insecurity,  romanticism and clever marketing is to blame for the urge to replicate a string of mini-me’s.  Don’t you just love those ads for diapers with a bunch of little cuties parading around -aaahh?!  

Childlessness is seen as a blight on your emotional landscape. Friends and family will be aghast if you were to intimate that you don't want children and your life’s already full. 
It takes wisdom and  knowledge to be an effective parent and there's no manual to refer to.
 On my parenting journey both of these faculties have been severely challenged. If children are your greatest teachers then I’ve a long way to go in my education! Its ironic that you often acquire knowledge, wisdom and more than a little courage once you set sail on the rough seas of parenting but it’s not for the faint hearted!

Modern women have choice and that comes with a heavy price - career or motherhood? They are more educated and have a greater degree of financial independence. Having children is now an option not a rule. I welcome that and believe that being the creator of your destiny is far nobler than just bringing forth children. Motherhood is a royal undertaking and should be reserved for the discerning and those who seek adventure on the domestic front.

Women today have a mind and can use it. Birth control allows then to choose when to have a family. When you have fifteen to care for you’ll never have the time to think or get past the daily mountain of laundry.

Motherhood is more than mere biology and I don’t want to be negative about a natural process. A parent is a work in progress, no doubt.  Small is beautiful and big is not any worse but let’s choose well-being and a quality of life before a quantity of children.



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