I can still remember the fateful day my wife announced to my mother-in-law that we were going to have Kid Number IV.
My mother-in-law’s response, once the dust settled and she started speaking English again, was something like, “Are you #%#$@ insane??? Mannaggia a me!!!” And it went downhill from there.
She probably figured we couldn’t handle, or afford, three kids, so why the heck would we even consider a fourth? And this was back when our only real expenses were Huggies and Binkies.
Or maybe her reasoning was that we weren’t fit to handle any kids, so why the heck did we ever get into the parenting business in the first place?
Was I to blame?
Pretty soon, the long knives started to come out and everyone — family, friends and feminists — speculated that I was to blame and accused me of being a male chauvinistic Italian, a guy with three daughters who was obsessed with having a son and wasn’t about to stop until he got one. Sad to say, I was the victim of prejudice.
Those allegations were false for the most part — at least I hope they were false — and looking back, I realize we couldn’t have handled a son anyway because my wife is a neatnik, and young guys generally thrive in filth and often transform their bedrooms into what resembles a World Wrestling Entertainment arena or the men’s room at Hooters.
Fortunately, Number IV turned out to be a beautiful baby girl. God provides.
Staying close to home
Over the years, people have consoled me with the notion that four daughters is a good thing, and they often do this about the time I’m writing out a check to pay for college tuition or a wedding.
A limo driver I met recently from Afghanistan assured me — and then reassured me just in case I didn’t believe him — that daughters are better than sons because they stay close to home and always help around the house.
Based on 30 years of experience, I had to politely disagree because I could never find my kids when I needed help raking the leaves, shoveling the driveway, or frying an egg for that matter.
I tend to agree with a recent study that said 60% of mothers think raising girls is more stressful than raising boys.
Number four can lower stress
The survey of 7,164 mothers conducted by Today.com also concluded that women who have three children are more stressed out than women with one or two or four children. In that respect, it’s probably better we went for the bonus baby.
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, once you hit that magic number four, things are supposed to get easier. You’re probably so numb by then that one more doesn’t matter because you’ve already turned into a walking zombie parent.
Four children is comparatively small by historical standards. My father came from a family of nine, and one of my friends came from a family of 13.
Do kids or husbands cause more stress?
What especially surprised me about this study of mothers was the curious finding that 46% of them believe their husbands cause more stress than their kids. How is that possible? Are we really that bad?
Don’t we wash enough dishes? (Guilty as charged.) Don’t we pick up after ourselves? (Guilty as charged.)
Don’t we remember birthdays, anniversaries and other memorable occasions? (Your memory is the first thing to go.) That’s a lot of guilt for one guy to carry around.
However, let me raise a philosophical question: Why should I have to do dishes when I have four daughters? Sorry, my chauvinism got the best of me.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.