So I am standing in the lineup at Costco today when an old couple (60ish) I used to know pull in behind me. I start a conversation to renew aquaintance, and of course they ask me about my family.
"I have only eight kids." I say.
"Only eight?!? (chuckle, chuckle). I grew up in a family of eight." says he. "And there were nine in my family!" says she. It was easier back then to raise a big family than it is these days, they agreed.
I'm sure this has been said to me in conversation many times before, but today I stopped and thought about it. Was it really easier back then? I remember growing up in a family of eleven, though there were never more than nine kids home at once. I remember that my dad worked as a logger and that he worked hard. We never went hungry, but the food was pretty plain, and most of it home grown. When I consider how much Dad made as a logger, I am sure that I make a far better living than he did.
We lived way out in the sticks; I now live in town about 5 minutes away from every convenience. He was surrounded by mud; I am surrounded by pavement.
So as far as money and it's accessories go, it is MUCH easier now to raise a large family. One thing I do have to face that dad did not is a culture which loves things more than kids. But it doesn't seem to be too stressful... We faced this anti-child mentality around us up until the 6th one, at which point we became an object of fascination to our neighbors and family. We were at once pitied and looked up to, sometimes by the same people...
Now, when people find out that I have eight kids, I am greeted with open-mouthed astonishment, followed by the exclamation "I don't know how you stand it! I have TWO kids, and they are driving me insane!" I have heard this so many times that I have become convinced that having two children is the hardest job in the world. But I also hear many comments along these lines; "I wish we had more...", and "Good for you!", and especially "My husband doesn't want any more kids..."
So I guess I failed to agree with the old couple. I wondered why they would say such a thing... maybe it is just a politeness to commiserate with your conversation partner about something, to let them know that you feel their pain. But, hey, I love having eight kids, and have no desire whatsoever to return any of them to the manufacturer.