Sep 22 2014
I only have one sibling, a brother, four-and-a-half years younger than me. The world of massive families and children born less than two years apart was so foreign to me that I didn’t even know it existed (this was before the days of the Duggars’ show). I don’t remember knowing anyone from a family with more than three children.
And yet, here I am, with children aged 5, 3 and 2, and expecting our fourth, God willing, around Thanksgiving. How did that happen? It all started when I began to become observant, shortly after college. Well, the having babies part didn’t start just then, but that’s when the idea of having a large family took root.
Many of the families I was close to on my journey to becoming Orthodox had at least five kids. Some had eight or 12. I was completely enamored with the idea of having a large family. There was so much that appealed to me, like how the older ones helped with the younger ones, how sharing was not just a value to be taught, but a reality of life with many other siblings, how there were built-in playmates, and always some action in the house. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 8 2014
Family picture par excellence.
About two weeks ago, I came back from a two-week family “vacation” in Europe. Our group was four adults (me, my husband, and my parents) and my five children–three of them aged 3 and under. Nine suitcases, two of them duffel bags full of diapers, wipes, bottles, and baby food. And three strollers.
It was wonderful. And I have only just now recovered from it.
Have you ever fantasized about taking a big trip with your little ones? If so, read on for some unsolicited advice. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 25 2014
I say that I’m the oldest of five. But that’s a lie. I’m actually the second oldest of six. Four months before my life began, my 16-month-old sister’s ended. She’d be 38 this month.
Born with a congenital heart defect, her early death was fated–her life clock rapidly marching towards death with her first breath of life. And although her death was certain–an eventuality that could be prepared for–it was no less tragic. It’s taken me 36 years to fully realize just how much impact my sister’s life–a girl I never knew–had on my own.
I don’t know when I began referring to myself as the oldest of five. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. At some point, you learn that people you’ve just met (or even those you’ve known and befriended) don’t want to hear about your dead sister. So, you remove any possibility that your sixth sister will ever come up in idle conversation. Eventually, denying her existence just became a convenient habit. Read the rest of this entry →
May 19 2014
As a kid, I ate whatever in the world I wanted. Pizza, chips, coke–I never had to think about it, and never experienced weight problems because of it. I loved to dance, but other than that, exercise was not a part of my life. Oh, I walked to and from school and did whatever worked into my day, but it wasn’t a focus. I didn’t understand what calories were and I didn’t care.
I married young and had four kids in my twenties. The weight fell off after each child, though it took some time, which gave me some anxiety, considering my unfamiliarity with being overweight. Further, my eating habits were so haphazard and uneducated, a fact I credit to my natural metabolism.
Then came my thirties. Three more kids came along (thank God!), and for the first time in my life I was overweight. It ate me up more than I cared to admit. In fact, I didn’t admit it at all. I “embraced my body,” wanted to “set a good example for my daughters,” exercised “because it felt good,” and otherwise was in denial about the fact that I really needed to change my eating habits. The problem? I didn’t have the foggiest notion how. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 18 2014
This Will Never End.
I’ve had my fair share of this feeling lately. If you live in the Northeastern United States, you understand. Houses look like they’re auditioning to be an extra in “Frozen” with icicles the size of big foam fingers dangling off every gutter. You can’t so much as drive your car in reverse without hearing the “crunch” sound of car bumper meeting up with mountain-of-aspiring-glacier-that’s-been-plowed-into-tremendous-piles-with-nowhere-to-go.
Between snow days and vacations, it feels like we haven’t had five days of school in a row since the week before Thanksgiving. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 6 2014
Yesterday Kveller contributing editor Jordana Horn wrote about the challenges of raising five children in a two-child world. Jordana’s friend Ruchi, an Orthodox mother of seven, wrote this follow-up piece about raising her own brood in a seven-kid world.
I feel Jordana’s pain. My freakishness, when I venture beyond my little Orthodox Jewish community, or others like it, feels a lot like yours! But it is infinitely easier to have seven kids in a seven-to-ten-kid world than five kids in a two-kid world. See, my whole seven-kid world works perfectly around my seven-kid family. Two or three kids is considered a “small family,” while twelve is considered large. Fortunately for me, expectations in my world fit right in with my family’s lifestyle.
1. Grocery shopping.
In bigger kosher communities (i.e. Israel, New York, Lakewood, NJ) you can call or fax your local kosher store or produce market and have them deliver everything to your door. Here in cute little Cleveland the best option for large-scale shopping is still Costco. True story: I can’t understand why anyone with two kids belongs to Costco. How’s that for reverse-freakishness? Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 5 2014
I am a freak.
Arguably, this was true anyway. But by having a fifth kid (on purpose!) I have pushed myself into the realm of the unfathomable…at least, in the environment where I live.
I live in an area of suburban New Jersey primarily known to most for its mall. It is a bedroom community of Manhattan. It’s where I grew up, and arguably continue to grow up. It’s a well-to-do place where people–to generalize–tend to focus on status symbols like fancy cars and fancy college stickers for said cars. It’s a secular place where, with the exception of attending a friend’s bar or bat mitzvah, people are more likely to be at spin class Saturday morning than Shabbat services.
Having five kids around here is not normal.
I’m not sure what it is about the number five that makes it so different from four. I can name a handful of local peers who have four kids–hey, I was one of them until not so long ago. But for some reason, “five” tips the scales. When people ask you how many kids you have and you say “five,” it’s prone to produce wide eyes and a “Wow!” or “Yikes!” That never happened when I answered “four.”
The fact of the matter is, if you’re not in a religious community in America, more often than not, you live in a one, two, or three kid world. I’m fine with being different, but my experience thus far has made me start to see the ways in which the secular world is not hospitable to families like mine. Read the rest of this entry →