I’m pregnant with kid number six–a girl, due in June.
If you think that being pregnant made people say weird things to you, I promise you that telling them that the fetus gestating inside you will be your sixth child is a whole new ball o’ wax. “Are you/were you trying for a boy?” (No.) “Are you…ORTHODOX?” (Yes, I’ve belonged to Conservative and Reform synagogues in order to hide that fact for all these years.) “Maybe it’s TWINS!” (The ultrasounds say there’s just the one kid in there, but seriously–do you want me to be on a reality show?) “When do you even find time to have sex?” (While I’m making dinner. Usually in the pantry. KIDDING.) “Are you CRAZY?” (Obviously.) “Are you DONE?” (Do I ask you that when I see you drinking at a party, however much I may want to?)
And the question that I get the most: “WHY???”
I’m doing it for you so that I have more material with which to entertain you. And no, Kveller gives me no subsidy for churning out all these Jewish kids and experiences (feel free to revisit that, guys).
Seriously, though. This “Why?” question comes from people who are, themselves, parents (people who aren’t usually say something closer to “Wow” or “Yikes.”). On some levels, the question–with its undertones of, “You’re a total freak show,”–is understandable. As one of my friends said to me, “I am going crazy with two kids; even the idea of six is unimaginable.” It’s not cheap, either in terms of money (maybe we will draw straws to see who gets sent to college? Anyway, college is no guarantee of success. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg) or its attendant physical/emotional toll (“Never a dull moment!” was probably not meant to be interpreted so literally).
I’m one of four siblings, so the idea of a big family always held appeal for me. Growing up, my siblings were a constant source of both support and comic relief; they still are. I wanted, if I could, to recreate that positive experience for my own children. Yeah, it’s hard, exhausting, and time consuming. For me, a person who thrives on chaos, it’s worth it.
But it’s important for me to acknowledge a more fundamental, definitional fact: There is an extra, deliberate motivational edge to my procreation, and it’s rooted in the fact that I am a strongly identifying Jew. I’m not referring to the Biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply”–some would contend that my husband and I have not yet fulfilled that commandment, as we have “only” had three, soon to be four, girls together, and not a girl and a boy (my two boys are from my first marriage). Am I Orthodox? No, I’m not–but I am a Jew. And as a Jew, it’s really important to me that there are more of us.
Concerns about overpopulation, in my mind, are overshadowed by the words of the Haggadah–that in every generation, enemies have risen up whose intent is to obliterate the Jewish people.
Well, not if I can help it, bad guys.
Procreating and creating more little Jews is my flag in the sand saying, “I’m part of an amazing people, and we’re not going anywhere if I can help it.” It’s my way of saying that I want to devote my existence to raising more Jewish children, who hopefully in turn will become people for whom Judaism is a positive, enriching element of their lives.
I feel truly blessed to have been raised in a family where Judaism was a cornerstone of life. And so, it is exhausting, but truly a blessing to have the ability to have children, to bring more into the world, and, in doing so, to create Jewish life.
This, of course, is all too long an answer. So generally, I just reply, “My husband and I really like having sex.”