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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Growing up in a large family (Guest contributor Dave Taylor)

There has been a lot of talk of late about the women who after having 6 children found herself pregnant and giving birth to octuplets. That’s 8 more children. I am not here to debate or to judge the woman for her decision to have a total of 14 children. Whether or not she or her fertility doctor is to blame is of no consequence to me. Her reasons and/or intentions that she decided to have these children are hers and hers alone. After all the hoopla and attention that is being showered upon her either wanted or unwanted is over, she and whomever she can find to help her will have a large family to rear. The larger issue to me is how the public seems to perceive larger families.

It is rare today that you find more than two maybe three children in most families. I don’t know the exact statistics so maybe I am just full of beans. This is an issue close to my heart because I come from a large family. There are twelve of us and I am number 5 - the first born son after 4 girls. The mix was uneven at 9 girls and 3 boys. Growing up in a family so large definitely had its challenges. Mom didn’t work outside the home for obvious reasons. Dad wasn’t around for a lot of my childhood because he was a Navy man and was overseas a lot when I was young. We always felt safe and secure. We would have been considered poor by anyone’s standards even mine. I don’t recall ever going to bed hungry but there were some creative meals that came out of the kitchen. Mom had more ways to cook beans and rice that anyone I have ever met. We used to buy rice and beans in 25# sacks at the commissary.

Hand me down clothes were just a fact of life. We wore jeans to school many times with holes in them. It’s hard to imagine something like that being fashionable today. I would have been so cool. School lunches were always a surprise. If it could be put between two slices of bread Mom would make a sandwich out of it. Ever hear of a spaghetti sandwich? Neither did my friends. The first day of school was nothing like kids of today where Mom and maybe Dad walks you to the bus stop and waits with you and takes your picture when you get on the bus. My mom would stand at the door with a child on each hip and wait for a group of kids that looked about my age to come walking down the street. When they got close enough Mom would would kiss me goodbye and tell me to follow them to the bus stop.

We had a good life. We moved around a lot because Dad would get transferred. We would go to church on Sunday and take up a whole pew. We got some funny looks. I don’t remember ever going out with the entire family to eat. It was just too much trouble to keep us all in line. We did al lot of things together that didn’t cost much. Dad would dig a big hole out in the backyard and build a fire in it and we would roast hotdogs at night. We caught fireflies in the summer and played tag and hide and go seek until it was time to come in. Although there were a lot of things we didn’t have there were more things that we did have. We had each other. The house was always full of life and we found creative ways to keep ourselves amused. Today our family is still very close. None of us are or ever have been in jail for any reason and we are all productive and contributing what we can to make this world a better place. Thanks for letting me reminisce.

I am sure that Mom was looked down upon quite a bit for her decision to have such a large family. Mom called us her “Happy dozen”. I think though that maybe she knew what she was doing all along and now her kids are reaping the benefits. I know I am. By the way I count myself among the number of parents scared to death to have more than a few children. We have three. The thought of having anymore gives me a pit in my stomach and makes me lightheaded. We like most of you thought it best to have fewer and give them more. I still wonder what life would have been like with my own Happy dozen or maybe Happy half-dozen. I guess I will never know but I am sure not going to stare or judge anyone that has. I might even be a little envious.

3 comments:

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