Thursday, 9 December 2021

So has the birthrate gone up?

That was certainly the expectation right around me when we went into lockdown last year.

"Better get started knitting Cat!" I was told by more than one person as they discussed the "inevitable" rise in the birthrate. A good many of them believed that the lockdown would lead to a more relaxed time at home. They believed that people would consider it would give them time to plan to have another child.

The opposite has turned out to be true. Our birthrate has dropped. It has apparently been dropping for some years now.

My parents had four children. It was considered to be a pretty average sort of family when I was a kitten. We knew more than one family who had six, seven or eight children - and they were by no means all Roman Catholics. I remember a family of eleven and another of nine. They all seemed, to my young self, to be fed and clothed. My brother and I envied them because they were allowed to go to "the pictures" on Saturday afternoons. That was something which cost more than we could afford - even if our mother had been willing to countenance spending a Saturday afternoon that way. The fathers of these lucky individuals were "wharfies" of course - dock workers - who were paid very good wages indeed.  

My brother and Middle Cat have each had two children. My brother and his late wife made the deliberate decision to stop at two. The world was getting over-populated. China had the infamous "one-child policy". R... , my brother's second partner, also has two and like my brother and her own late partner made the conscious decision to stop at two. They both consider themselves extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy each other's children - and all the children get on extremely well with one another. (Perhaps it helped that no marriages were broken up by either of them and their children wanted them to find a new partner.) 

Middle Cat was under pressure to have more children - but not from her partner. They were happy with two but Middle Cat's father-in-law wanted them to have more. Middle Cat and her husband looked at J.... and said "We are just happy to have replaced ourselves with two healthy boys."  When J... had another try Middle Cat, who was sick every day of both pregnancies, told him, "Well, you have them." Her MIL backed her. I remember her telling me, "Men do not understand." No, apparently they don't. 

I have not added to the world's population. I am fortunate in that I have not needed to have children but have still had many opportunities to enjoy children. (There is nothing like having all the fun and not having to put up with all the "but I don't want to go to bed" talk.)  

And I am wondering whether some other people feel the same way. Have they realised that children can still be fun - much more fun than adults in many ways -  even if you have none of your own?

Children, all children, are still my responsibility - even those I do not know at all. As long as I remember that then I plan to go on having fun with those I do know. 

1 comment:

kayT said...

I often say that while I made a lot of bad decisions in my past, deciding not to have children was not one of them. I am grateful to have had the life I had and the children I got acquainted with were not my responsibility. Some people say this is selfish but I know I would not have been a good parent, and I am thankful that I was able to choose. I hope those choices are not taken away again!