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You Don’t Have To Be Ryan Fitzpatrick Or Phil Rivers To Love A Houseful Of Kids


If you want to really weird people out, don’t disclose what porn you watch, say you want to have lots of kids. News came out Monday that Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his wife have created baby seven, due for breath in January.

The announcement prompted plenty of jokes and cheer.

This included speculation about a family duel between Fitzpatrick and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who leads the league in children produced with his own wife, at eight. Recently he told Dan Patrick he wasn’t stopping there, either.

Which prompted its own round of hilarity:

Here are Rivers’ remarks to Patrick, with a video followed by a brief transcript of the relevant part.

Patrick: Are you done [with kids]?
Rivers: [crosstalk] Naw! Heck naw.
Patrick: Well, I should talk to your wife. Does your wife know you want to have more?
Rivers: Oh, yeah, she’s all in.
Patrick: Six girls!
Rivers: Six girls. But I tell ya what, the three oldest are girls, and now they’re 16, 13, and 12, so we have a lot of little mommas in the house, helpin’ out, so. It’s awesome.
Patrick: Do they think you’re stupid, though?
Rivers: No. Well, sometimes, sometimes, just in general, you know, like ‘Dad.’ But it’s awesome. There’s always a lot of action at the house, as you can imagine.

People always seem to have strong reactions to this kind of lifestyle. I’ve been in a position to observe more of that than others, since I’m one of seven children and have five of my own so far. People seem compelled to ask whether we want more, or some variation on the “When are you going to stop, you know, making new people?”

Some parents get offended by this. I tend not to be, unless it’s asked in a particularly hateful way, such as when a stranger told a friend of mine that there were pills to fix her “problem.” My friend retorted, “The problem of having my children?” You see, plenty of people take way more than pills to generate kids. My body just makes them like it’s going out of style. Well, I guess it kind of is, according to the latest birth rate data.

Fertility really seems to set people off because it’s one of the many things in life we still can’t control all that well. We’re uncomfortable with that. Desiring to play God is an extremely old motivation, and it remains endemic to humankind.

Well, I started out on my “fertility journey” thinking, like most Westerners, that I could decide when and how many kids to have. I was hoping to have as few kids as possible, maybe eke out two if my husband, who did want children, really pushed for more than one. Three unplanned pregnancies later, confronting my newly revealed hatred of innocent human life and its transformation into love, I started to change that way of thinking. Turns out that life is really hard to control — especially if you are doing the thing that specifically exists to generate new life.

But people keep persisting in the psychologically comfortable delusion that we can control life better than we really can. That’s why I think they ask, like Patrick did of Rivers, whether people with more kids than the average bear are done. They want to know how we can live out here, rolling with the waves in the great unknown sea. Is it as scary as it sounds?

It is not. It is lovely. It is meaningful, fun, endlessly challenging, a prime source of deep personal growth. Despite being absolutely normal children who fight and make messes constantly and are never grateful enough for all I do for them, these people of my tribe have been worth every thing they’ve displaced. They have made my head far more enjoyable to live inside, and my home bursting with bounty. They have given me a deep sense of purpose, and a completely unexpected source of joy. In our world of singleness, wandering, loneliness, and disconnection, my home is overflowing with abundance, chatter, demands for connection, snuggles, kisses, and arguments.

It’s like asking how many diamonds you want, or flowers in your garden. Perhaps seeing this, or at least suspecting it, questioning it, being willing to challenge the narrow negativity behind our culture’s rather overwhelming child hostility is behind the increase in Americans thinking the ideal family size is three or more children, and in educated mothers having more children, since the mid-1990s. Children, like laughter, are contagious. The more children I have, the more I find myself wanting. Nobody has been more surprised by this than me, nor more happy in the discovery.

If my hips manage to hold up, and we calculate we can pay for another round of school tuition, clothes, food, and piano lessons, we might just have another dream child or two. Regardless, I’ve got my hands full, and I like it that way. Come on in, the water’s fine.