Sunday, August 19, 2007

Three (or four) is the New Two

I really enjoy listening to NPR Story of the Day podcasts. They are a bit of interesting, wide-ranging newsworthy or just interesting topics that are relatively short. Short being the key word as my time during the day is still broken up into small chucks where I’m lucky if I have a sense of accomplishment for any reason.

Anyway, in listening to my beloved podcast, I just learned that I have the Ultimate Status Symbol. I am so excited! I wasn’t aware that by having three children, I have catapulted myself into the ultra-elite. Because three (or four) children is the new two. Yes, didn’t you know? Check out the podcast (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12513004).

It turns out that we are in the midst of a social status change. It used to be that only poor families had three or more children. Now, it turns out, large families are a trait of “serious money.” In going from career to “Momzilla,” those of us former career moms have traded in our 9-to-5s for competitive birthing. We have more kids because we can afford to, and it helps us feel better about our decision not to work. Some of us with three or more children apparently hire potty training coaches and when our children get lice we hire Nit Pickers (Time Magazine article?)

At first, I felt insulted by this article, until I realized that it does in fact articulate a trend that I had failed to notice. When I think about my friends that have three or more children, it is a status symbol of sorts. These friends have been (or are) career women; an attorney, a model, a photographer, a teacher, a high-tech saleswoman, an interior designer, an engineer, a nurse, a doctor, a CEO of a high tech company. I have one friend with four kids; she is a former figure skater and current writer, academic, and activist. They are achievers who have decided to do the mom thing in a big way. Let’s face it, it really does take a lot of financial resources to have three or more children in a major metropolitan area with a high cost of living. In the area I live in, competition is a way of life. I wouldn’t put it past people to participate in competitive birthing.

Some of us have a nanny (or two), housecleaners, people to do our laundry and cook for us. But some of us choose not to have these added luxuries. I’ve always said that if I worked outside my home, I would not have had a third child. That special child number three was, for my husband and myself, a bonus of sorts that we felt we could handle because I was no longer working. I come from a family of three children and so does my husband. I remember my parents reminiscing about deciding between getting a dog or having another baby. My youngest sister doesn’t much like that story, but I think this trend started way back then: my parents felt they had enough resources to go for the longer-term, higher-cost option.

So I have to remember to thank that wonderful third child, in all his wackiness, for catapulting me into the realm of the elite. He really is more fun than a designer handbag.

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