Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

What would you do if someone offered you a million dollars, no strings attached?

You'd take it, right? Don't worry, I have a point. Keep reading.

I met another Jewish family yesterday, making three in Yakima if you want to include the mixed-faith homes. (lol--we're taking over) We all have one thing in common: a whole lotta kids and no regrets. This seems common among Jewish households.

Throughout history, Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs prayed for children. These were hardly comfortable times, but when God wanted to bless them, he did so with another wailing mouth to feed. And they were happy for each one. While infanticide was de rigeur in most communities, Jews wanted nothing more than a substantial genetic legacy. This attitude has survived millennia in the Jewish community. Even Jewish women who choose to have smaller families seem to understand why others have so many.

I've never had a Jewish woman ask me why I have so many children or otherwise comment negatively on the size of my family. I get a lot of that attitude, but never yet from a Jew. And here's why:

If you had 'enough' money, if you didn't need to work, you wouldn't turn down more, right? Because even if you'd had 'enough', you can always find something to do with a surplus. Money is a good thing; more money is a better thing. Theoretically, you could have too much money, but it's hard to imagine. It would have to be a whole lot.

And consider:

  • Money is precious. But my kids are even more so. Especially when they're sleeping. ;-)
  • Money requires work. Even if you have already earned it, wealth management is an enormous task with its own industry.
  • Money is insurance against old age and hard times. So are large families. If Social Security goes the way of glasnost and my retirement account gets shredded by some random stock crash, at least one of my little burdens will make sure someone feeds Grandma.
  • Money can change the world--just ask an African kid who didn't die in their village plague because of immunizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Raising solid citizens is also a form of philanthropy. Did you know one of my step-kids went to the Gulf Coast after Katrina to clean up the mess? Being raised in a large family gives you a sense of community and responsibility for others that is hard to duplicate in the typical two adult/1.5 kid household.
And, unless you're some crazy soccer mom, loving your children isn't the root of all evil.

Sure, there are financial and ecological costs, but these can be minimized, and in our case, they have been. The last time I checked, our household of seven's carbon footprint was about half that of the typical American home. We're a lean, green, not-so-mean, child-raising machine. So when people ask me if we're having any more and I act like I don't care either way, it's because, honestly, I don't. We have a bumper crop as it is, but what's another? I'm not planning anything, but if something happens, I'm not going to be wailing and pulling out hair.