I recently read a post on the blog ValuewIt about how members of the "country club" set are having more and more children. Bitsy, the blog's author, heard a piece on NPR that said affluent families are now having three or more children and referred to the trend as "competitive birthing." The idea is that these women have quit their high-powered, high-paying jobs to be moms and are transferring their competitive, business energy into having children.
The comments on the post were interesting. One woman said that having more children has become acceptable because families are willing to hire "support staff" to help with raising the children and that if she could afford staff, she'd have more. I felt the need to throw my two cents in, which I shouldn't have. I posted that I have three kids, not out of a need for competition, but because I love babies and that if we had a larger house, car and income, I'd be tempted to have more kids.
But then there were other responses that got my hackles up. One said that only wealthy people can afford to put gas in the huge SUVs, so they might as well have lots of kids to fill up the seats. Another said that anyone who has kids as a status symbol has something wrong with them. One other mother adopted a holier-than-thou tone about her one kid and her Prius. Even though I'm neither an SUV driver nor a status-symbol mom, I felt the need to defend myself. But I held off. I worried that if I posted a response, it could start a flame war. I know and like Bitsy, and I didn't want to be the cause of unpleasantness on her blog. However, I feel the need to say something.
So I'm responding here. This is what I almost posted:
I'm not a member of the country club set. Not even close. We don't belong to a country club, never have. We live in a 1600 square-foot house in one of the not-quite-gentrified neighborhoods in north central Austin. We have to rely on our free neighborhood pool for splash time, not the residents-only pool you find in the more exclusive sub-divisions. I drive a Hyundai Tucson, with all three kids crammed in the back seat, not some ginormous SUV with seating for 10. Except for the cleaning lady who comes once every other week, I don't have support staff. It's me and my husband raising our kids, cooking, cleaning and caring for them. We didn't have kids to show off how wealthy we are. Instead, we've deliberately chosen a streamlined and economised lifestyle that allows me to be at home full time. I'm proud that I'm an ordinary mom raising her kids. I enjoy what I do, aside from the occasional temper tantrum, sibling war and long rainy day. I'm sure there are parents out there who have kids to show off, who look at them as status symbols, but please don't lump everyone who has more than two children into that category. Some of us have larger families because we like having kids and being parents.
There, now I feel better.