Mattress Surfing and the More is Better Mentality
No one is quite sure who suggested the slip-and-slide that we graduated to, but before we knew it there were thirty kids in the yard, alternately standing in a foot of soap bubbles and surfing a 48 foot mattress slide.
My mom had six kids in six years— I am the oldest, and at the time of this particular adventure I was twelve. My mom asked us to take our mattresses outside to beat them out. Accordingly, we hauled our beds out to the lawn for a Spring cleaning session.
I remember telling my co-conspirator sister Natosha that it would be better if we rinsed them off with the hose. The thing about big groups is that things always escalate, and with that many kids we were always in a big group. We quickly decided that it would be even better if we used Dawn soap on the mattresses. Eventually, we lined up our mattresses for their scrubbing along the lawn.
And it was literally down hill from there. We used the sloping trajectory of our yard for extra velocity as we slipped and slid our way down the mattresses.
My mother came out in the climax of this extravaganza we were hosting and calmly remarked, “this is not what I had in mind.” Then, she went back inside.
We slept on the ground for six months before my parents could afford to replace our mattresses.
We once had a club where the six of us broke the ice on a pond and swam across it to get in. We grew up hiking in every mountain chain in the US and listening to my dad read hundreds of books as we fell asleep.
There’s a disturbing attitude about having children in this country. The word irresponsible gets used, but it’s the voids, the families that are quiet and withering that make this propaganda detrimental.
I know personally, they always told my parents that they were doing it wrong. They had kids too early (that’s me—I’m the baby they had right off.) They said they had kids too close together. They always said they had too many kids. (Sorry, Alex, Anna, Nick)
To make ends meet, my dad would buy from discount bins that resulted in lunches so bizarre that they got passed around the lunchroom for sampling. Pear potatoes was one of the biggest hits.
However, who would we choose to lose in order to do things “right?” At the risk of being in very bad taste I will say my family is fabulous.
Natosha is an award winning author and deeply empathetic crusader for the weak: most recently, caring for refugees in below zero temperatures and working for peace in the Middle East. She once did 6 continents in 6 months, and is the funniest person anyone knows.
Tessa is also an award winning essayist, and a mischievous, elf of a human being. She is on the fast track with a fortune five hundred company because of her integrity and drive.
Alexander was once asked to perform for 3,000 people; he taught himself guitar that day and performed that night. He once carried a Nepalese orphan 10 miles at the base of Everest to get them medical help. He has a 166 IQ making him literally one of the smartest people on the planet.
Anna has summited Mt. Rainier and is finishing a cross nation bike/run for the equal rights for the unborn. She’s a seasoned public speaker that founded her own non-profit as a sophomore in college.
Nick has also summited Mt. Rainier, taught himself German, and biked from the Colorado Rockies to Santa Monica Beach California. The family’s only perfectionist and a deep risk taker, he climbed North America’s most difficult indoor rock climbing route in a single attempt as a lark.
The six of us are a team careening toward the next grand adventure, but that team was only made possible because my parents have the wisdom and guts to know that saying children are a burden is bunk.
Being from a large family means more fun. It means I can’t think clearly without a certain decibel of noise. It means odd traditions like Moroccan food on the floor, dancing to Irish music after Sunday brunch, Lord of the Rings parties until dawn, and forty gallons of cinnamon roll dough every Christmas.
One of the most ridiculous things people say to me is that they only want one child because they want to give that child enough love. I have my parents, but I also have five people that would die for me. I have five people that hear my stories and take my side, for whom my friends are their friends, my enemies their enemies. I hate seeing people robbed of what I have.
Mostly, being from a family with more people means that life is an adventure with people that get all of your jokes and will take you down a peg… and it humanizes you.
Because what is truly inhumane is telling families they are better off without some of their members. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, once said, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
Today, Planned Parenthood has the same rhetoric. They claim the environment would benefit from parents choosing a child not to have.
Practicing eugenics has real world consequences. So, whom of my family should we pick?