One month ago (or ten, if you want to measure from conception), I became a father to yet another child. When I run through the names of my children, it seems pretty natural, but when somebody asks me how many this makes, and I have to say the number, “Eight,” it suddenly turns into a brood. I’m not sure why that is.
I am fortunate to live in an area where eight is not so far out beyond the statistical mean that people gasp in shock. I am also fortunate that those who welcome many children into their family are not, for the most part, socially irresponsible and dependent upon government support. I have received no negative comments (at least not to my face) following the announcement of our latest addition. Nevertheless, I am aware that there is a prevailing cultural bias against large families, and I try to nip those discussions in the bud.
One gentleman at work asked how many this made, and I replied, “Eight,” and then added, “spread out over nineteen years.” He arched an eyebrow and queried (as if it was any of his business) whether this child was a “mistake.” I just grinned sheepishly and said, “No, not really. We know what causes it.”
I recently went to the hospital, where my 86 year-old father was being treated for a heart ailment. A high school classmate of my wife took my dad’s EKG. We chatted a bit about the new baby, then she noted that my dad is 43 years older than I am and assured me that I need not worry about having a child in my forties. So I asked my dad how old my grandfather was when he got married. He was 43. My dad was the fifth of ten children. Granted, my grandfather died when my dad was still young, but I didn’t share that. I intend to live a longer life than both my grandfather and my dad (I’m looking forward to celebrating my eleventy-first birthday by quoting Bilbo Baggins).
I might feel old many days, but I have plenty of years left to raise this child (and any more that might come our way) to adulthood.