When I was small the thought of having one child and one child only was rare. A woman only “settled” for this if she was physically unable to bear more. Other women, the ones with broods of 3 or 5 or more felt sorry for such a creature, whose husband surely bemoaned his fate with his pallies at the local bar sloshing down a nightly brew. She was in a way, damaged goods and likely spent her lifetime wondering what was wrong with her anyway.
Families bulged with tots, all of whom were the spitting image of mom or dad. Somehow the decision to reproduce was never based in finance, only in procreation and pride of same. Siblings were everywhere and I mean, everywhere. You shared not only a room, but many times a bed with them. It is no wonder baby boomers have made the world of therapy flourish!
This is not to say it was all horrendous for it was not. Family was your root and there was something to be said for having built-in playmates. Even being sick was a shared experience. The dinner table was a world unto itself. Whose fork was that anyway? You had to be quick to snag that second helping of dinner rolls or chicken, especially if you weren’t seated near enough to the platter. Many of my memories are cherished for having had two siblings and some are nightmarish for the same reason. That was life for most of us in those days.
Fast forward to a different stage of life, when making money and holding onto some of it was considered vogue. Yuppism taught us the value of things and cash. Thinking about the finances of your future was a must, because just letting it happen to you was no way to build a better mousetrap. The idea and time of large families was put in the past, along with bunkbeds and huge pots of pasta for dinner.
Many of us who grew up with numerous brothers and sisters decided to have only one child and to shower that baby with all the things we could not have as children because we had to share. Now if a woman’s womb could only accommodate one baby it was perfectly fine and dandy. She fit the mold. I did just this and felt I had lived to my potential as a female. Our single servings of motherhood were much more common and acceptable.
We planned and had babies according to our pocketbooks as this was the sensible way to ensure both parent and child would live a happy and financially sound existence. In China it is the law to have just one child due to over-population, right? Well if a government restricts this function, there must be something profoundly sound about the decision.
My daughter always wanted a sibling. “My children will not have aunts and uncles”, she bemoaned her fate. Still she loved having 45 different baby dolls, dollhouses to put them in, and most all of the things she deemed essential to a happy existence. Yes, she was spoiled rotten. This is not to say all parents of my ilk spoiled their kids, but I am sure a large portion of us have. Have I raised the real material girl? Probably so. She is now a young adult and I am still waiting for the aliens who took her brain in her teens to bring it back. Do not get me wrong as there is a great deal of inherent good in this child and thus her dad and I did succeed in many ways. However, in hindsight I find myself mulling that there is something to be said for growing up in a wild bunch and learning to be self-sufficient because if you snoozed you lost.
Cycles being what they are, I see many young and larger families out there now, just as was commonplace in my youth. One of my neighbors, a women in her early twenties recently had to move back in with her mother because she and her husband had fallen on hard times. They have 4 little girls. Sweet tiny little things who haven’t a clue as to the hardships they face, for they are happy as clams having each other to play with and to love. Who is to say that the old adages which speak of having no money but standing alongside each other in a family way are politically incorrect? Not I,that is for sure. If the bottom line is happiness, then perhaps bookkeeping goes out the window. However, in this day and age if you cannot keep the books balanced, can you still be happy?