Alec and Hilaria Baldwin just announced the upcoming birth of their seventh child. And while I don’t pretend to have any insight into their family dynamics, I couldn’t help but wish them well. I understand that children are a great blessing, and those who have the means to raise a large brood have the right to do so.
When my husband and I married in 1977, I had just turned 20 years old. After we both babysat extensively and essentially raised my two younger sisters, I found myself quite overwhelmed with raising children. When the Catholic priest mentioned that during the ceremony he would ask us if we would “welcome children cheerfully,” I told him to please delete that line. I had no intention of procreating, then or ever. My childhood household was a chaotic mess run by two well-meaning but overwhelmed parents. Did I want to continue my life in a place where children throw hairbrushes at each other and sister pulls away sister’s “borrowed” sweater? Under no circumstance! Luckily, Father Ben (who was a novice) agreed to rip those words out of the vows.
Fast forward four years. On October 1, 1981, my middle sister Maureen died in a car accident at the age of 23. This tragedy shook my world and underscored the fragility of life for me. My youngest sister Carolyn and I had to bridge the chasm and cross the void where Mo had been. We panicked at the thought that one or two of us would disappear too.
And so my feelings gradually changed. My husband and I produce children’s theater to make a living, and we watched with growing envy the lovely young families who attended our shows. Her children were clearly the light of her life. I’ve never seen a single hairbrush thrown (though admittedly I’ve never been behind closed doors). By the summer of 1983 we were ready to have a baby and in May 1984 our son Sheridan was born.
Two years later, Evan hit the stage, and for many, that family of four would have sufficed. But that’s not how it felt for us. Although we were on a tight budget, we could afford a larger brood, and over time the idea of a big household began to catch on – definitely more than holidays and dining out. Before long, Rose, Patrick, and Julie showed up. Finally we were complete and so was our joy.
We live in a neighborhood where multiple families number six or more, so we’re not considered bizarre. Our kids have always worn used clothes and have not attended the most expensive summer camps, nor will they go to Harvard or Yale. We never made it to Disney World. Fish fingers and macaroni and cheese were staples when we were young, and yet we held hands at the dining table and said thank you.
We were able to find ways to afford the things that mattered most—like taking music lessons. As a result, our eldest son is a classical composer and some of our other children are accomplished musicians. I’ve never heard them grumble about missing the Magic Kingdom. Our magic kingdom revolved around flutes, pianos and violins.
I remember one woman insulting our large family and sniffling, “I’m only having one child because I care about this planet!” And I understand her reasoning, I do. But here’s the thing: A one-child policy isn’t a panacea for what’s plaguing the Earth. I believe if we recycle, conserve, and tread carefully, we’re not going to make or destroy the future of humanity by having a few more kids. In fact, birth rates have declined, and many couples are choosing to remain happily childless. A balance is established.
In a world spiraling out of control on so many fronts, having children is a huge vote of confidence that things are getting better. We as a species will continue. Our children will have valuable companions on their journey through life.
So congratulations to the Baldwins and everyone who fills their hearts with little ones. There’s no shame in receiving a full house. A world full of beautiful children is a world I love to live in: a world of laughter and happiness and hope against all odds.
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/like-alec-and-hilaria-baldwin-i-have-a-lot-of-kids-this-is-what-its-actually-like-41506308.html Like Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, I have many children. Actually, that’s how it is