Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Large Families and sustainability

Having 7 kids is not the norm these days and it's amazing how 'not being in the norm' opens you up to people's comments and opinions. Over the years I have heard many such comments, but there is one that I have heard on occasion that is the most insulting. Some people are subtle with their wording, but others come right out and say it... "Don't you think it's selfish in this day and age to have so many children?" With such limited resources on this precious Earth, how can we choose to add to that drain, over and over.

But the funny thing is, every single days I see examples that it is just the opposite. It's vacation week here in Fitzville, and that always means extra kids at the house. The other night, some extras were at the dinner table with us. I noticed several times that non-Fitz kids regularly reached out for 2nd and 3rd helpings without thinking twice. I also noticed the occasional horrified look on a Fitz kid's face. Being one of 7, each of my kids have had it drilled into them that you always ask, always make sure there is enough to go around. Though neither Fitz or I was ever the star math student, our kids' math skills are extraordinary. Put any amount of food on the table, and they will instantly know the number of servings available and how those servings can be equally divided.

And it's not just food. Any resource available will be divided in their heads, making sure everyone gets their fair share. It's an amazing skill in this day and age. As much talk as there is today about sustainability, it seems to contradict the current philosophy of our culture... "as long as I get mine." It's amazing to me to look around America and see that while family sizes have decreased over the years, the size of everything else has increased. Sure our family drives gas guzzlers, and sure we been questioned on how 'eco-friendly' our vehicles are. But you can't just look at MPG. How about the PPMPG... or the persons-per-miles-per-gallon? With 9 of us in our gas-guzzling van we don't look so bad compared to the mom with the one baby seat in the big honking SUV. Then there are houses. We live in a smaller sized cape compared to the houses in our area. All four boys share a bedroom. The girls share as well. But drive down most area streets, and you will see 3000 sq ft houses occupied by 3 or 4 people.

Growing up in a large family naturally trains you to be aware of others, to make sure everyone is taken care of. The greatest factor in sustainability is sharing, and what could ever teach you to share more than growing up in a house with 8 other people? Add to that growing up in a large family living on teacher's salaries, and you've trained 7 kids to make do. I don't feel like we are taking from the worlds' supplies, I feel we are adding 7 people to it who will know how to take care of it more than most.

And here are those 7 kids, sharing a birthday cake for Kaleigh, at the brand new kitchen bar made from the recycled beams of a 200 year old house.