Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Days of our lives - Part I: Family

Hey there People of the Journal. No, I haven’t forgotten your name, in fact I kind of missed saying it.

It’s Tuesday and Tuesdays are the days in between where we’re not in the beginning nor in the middle and surely not at the end of the week. But we’re still keeping a positive eye on things right? What’s on the agenda today? A few observations over some worldly issues that I was reading about the other day. Religion, gender issues and family. As I said, worldly issues, haha. Not the most simple ones by far, but surely some of the hottest topics out there.

So, you’re probably wondering: do you really want to get into this? It’s like walking around with a sack of hay in one hand and a lit match in the other ready for arson. Oh well, what can I say? We all tackle these problems one way or another, so weather we do it in a group of 3 people or I write about it on a blog read by 20 people (hopefully!!! haha), it is all the same.

Now. Let’s start with my favorite subject: Family. The aspect that I wanted to discuss is children and how many of “those” we should have/plan for. I read the blog of a young mom of three and her description of the society judging and commenting on couples who decide to have more kids than the “social norm” prescribes. We’re talking 5 to 10 kids here. I know your heart already skipped a beat right there, admit it. Your face translates a slight trace of horror, thinking “Geez. Five kids when I can barely manage with one!” I know the feeling. I want two kids myself. Three if a “mistake” happens, a mistake that I will happily accept in my life. But anything beyond that frightens me. Why? It’s not the child that frightens me. The screams, the crying, the pooping and whatnot. It is my lack of time and attention that those children deserve and that I will not be able to provide that scares me.

But before we go on, here is the link to her blog, read it and then we can continue:
http://sylcell.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/to-the-lady-ashamed-of-being-pregnant-with-her-fourth/

I have been an only child and I have lavished on mom’s 24/7 attention, care and love. And because it was just the two of us she could observe every little detail about my personality, pretty much anticipate what I want, what I’m good at, what upsets me and what makes me happy. She could mould and halt and jump and run at the same rhythm with me. How do you do that with 10 children, with 5, with 7? How do you have the patience to listen to all of them, to play with each of them, to observe the needy gritty details about their personalities to know who they are and what bothers them in relation to you, as parents, their siblings and then the rest of the world? I am thinking from my little observation of families who have many kids, responsibility is passed on from one older sibling to another as they grow to watch the younger ones and thus help the parents. I doubt you can calmly resolve any conflict. Even mom would raise her voice and go nuts over some of the stupid things I did. You must be yelling and punishing left to right your many kids in order to keep the situation under control. I too got punished and I was very disobedient and stubborn considering my tomboy character. But mom always explained why I was punished, it never happened just because she decided it as an adult and I had no right to know why. I am not saying this happens with bigger families. But I guess if one messes up, all of them are prone to be punished for either encouraging, observing or not doing anything about it, etc. But if they all get punished and one of them had nothing to do with the whole prank, how would he/she feel about it? At a young age it’s easy to build resentments. I’ve seen grownups still childishly upset, so to say, on their siblings because as children they had to suffer the same fate as everyone else in the household when they were innocent. But parents simply didn’t have the time or patience to dissect the situation and see who shared or not the blame.

Ok. Also, from my point of view, it’s unfair, to put it in a very plane manner, to have your older children take the responsibility and supervision job of their many younger siblings. Of course they naturally do that, as they love their smaller brothers and sisters. But ultimately they are children and by definition they are inclined to escape responsibilities of all kinds, because childhood is supposed to be the most worry free time of our lives. When you tell your older daughter, “I’m gonnna be in the kitchen watch your little sisters and brothers in the garden while they play”, she will probably take it as something she normally is supposed to do. But if something happened to one of the siblings I believe she would feel ten times guiltier than in a situation where she would have looked after them from her instinct than from parental instructions. I know I would. “God, mom is gonna kill me now!” I am not sure how to explain this properly, but there is a thin line in between their instinct to protect and our expectations of them to do so. Older siblings in situations like these seem to me to have matured much faster as they really feel responsible for the younger ones. Is this bad? Not necessarily. It’s just something I would not like to do with my children. But it’s just another way of raising your kids I guess and it may or may not happen in all larger families.

Leaving aside the emotional part. What happens when they grow up? Of course when they’re little they share clothes and toys and whatnot. But we, at least here in Romania are seriously terrified at the idea of paying for schools and nannies and God knows what else shows on the way. Parents save all their lives to be able to cover tuition, pay for a wedding, have a decent pension so they can retire earlier to help their kids raise their own children if they can’t afford a nanny and have to go back to work after only 6 months or a year (which, sadly, happens very often now as jobs could potentially be lost if you’re missing two years from your job!)

I am thinking, how could I pay for two kids who will probably be in college at pretty much the same time? What if both of them are really good students and they get an opportunity abroad. Can I deny them a life they have earned and that they deserve? No! I’ve seen my mom struggle in ways - many of you who are parents know, understand and sympathize with! – that I do not even want to remember, to get the money to help me study abroad. There was a time when she considered selling her house with everything in it just to see my hard work pay off. And I’m just one child. What if she had two? You give the chance to one but can’t help the other? Surely times change and today’s tuitions might vary, but essentially education will always be rather expensive. I worry to the bone when it comes to this because I was there and I know how it feels to see your parent fight until she bled to make it happen. I know how much I suffered when it didn’t happen. I would not want to see myself in that situation where I cannot provide for my kids when they have worked hard for their success; because I did not think of this before I had too many to be able to provide for them. It would make me feel selfish. I love children more than anything and I do believe life is barren without them. But as much as I love them I would not have more than I can handle because the quality of their life and future counts just as much as they count for my heart and peace of mind.

Maybe it’s in our culture here to be so weary and thoughtful at materialistic aspects such as this. Perhaps in other countries where the government offers better opportunities for children, scholarships are granted in larger numbers and the system in itself allows for an individual to develop without the continuous help of parents from high school all the way into adulthood, then yes, maybe the idea of having more than 3 children is not such a tragedy. Ten years ago I met a couple in France with three small children (under the age of 7), she was a painter, he was a driver and they own a huge house with a garden. That¸ ladies and gents, would not happen here. People with such jobs in Romania would wait for years before even having a child, probably live with rent and still get some sort of help from their parents. This is the sad reality of our lives so no wonder having children is if not frustrating, definitely a strategic plan that must happen at the right precise time and God have mercy if you get to have twins.

As for the blog I read and families with many children, let me just say, I admire them. I admire what for me seems to be courage. I can understand, mentally and emotionally where they come from and it excites me and it makes me happy to see couples have that strength, love and dedication to form such a solid foundation to raise so many children. Secretly, I admire them because in my heart I wish I wasn’t so frightened at the prospect of one day finding out I’m pregnant when I already have let’s say 3 kids and instead of rejoicing it, I would feel the world is at an end. Isn’t that how you’d feel? Even families who afford it financially, here in Romania, stick to the norm, because they’re too busy to raise so many kids. Either because they have an image to keep to or because they have to make more money and maintain a high level standard. Let’s not forget, status in Romania is highly important. And as this mom says in her blog, having a boy and a girl makes up for the perfect family.

Well you know what? Congratulations to those who can provide for their children, who wake up in the morning not because of the alarm but because of 4 kids rushing in bed to cuddle with them. If you can manage to raise healthy, beautiful children with wonderful personalities, who love their siblings and feel they have enjoyed their childhoods to the max, you should be awarded a prize for most diplomatic, patient and loving parents. I know it is hard to contain our amazement when encountering a large family and that the first thing that comes to our minds is if it was a mistake or simply what the hell they were thinking. But, we must remember we are all built differently and so our beliefs. Maybe a large family is not what we’re after, because of economic, financial reasons or simply because it would be too much as we’re into the more peaceful two kids kind of life. It doesn’t mean this is what other people want. So do not judge and do not make mean comments. Instead be kind and try to rejoice their happiness and learn from their devotion to create life and further, to their immense responsibility to take care of it. I know we all have seen our share of irresponsible parents who sink their feet into a situation like this and are afterwards overwhelmed and the children suffer the consequences which leads us to look even at successful couples with resentment. That’s why I say, don’t judge before you know and don’t judge through your own eyes. Indeed, objectivity is a bitch in all circumstances of our life, but once achieved it makes us better people in as much as possible.

Well, I wrote so damn much on this that I’ll probably have to discuss religion and gender issues in some other blog. No worries. As I said, these subjects never go cold.

So take care, have a wonderful week even though it’s pretty cloudy and rainy and we’ll catch you guys later.
MUAH
Mela