There was an article in the paper today about Cassandra Parker, a mother of seven kids between the ages of 10 and two months, who home schools her entire clan.
Cassandra freaks me out. And her story reminds me of another family who freak me out - Haya and Zephaniah Waks, featured in a TV documentary a few years back.
The Waks, an orthodox Jewish couple from Melbourne, have raised 17 children. Both parents stay utterly serene at all times, and still manage to pray three times a day.
Compare them to me, who struggles with just three children, experiences motherhood as a constant, barely restrained state of crisis, and barely finds time to wash my face in the morning.
So what’s going on? Are orthodox children far easier to raise than other children (and I do suspect my son generates as much work as a dozen or so orthodox kids), or am I just hopelessly inadequate?
Haya, in between growing an entire community of people in her womb, also works as a wigmaker, and effortlessly prepares meals for 300 guests every time there’s a birthday or festival.
I, on the other hand, am still recuperating from giving birth 20 months ago (at least that’s what I tell my husband), get exhausted just thinking about what to wear to go shopping, and as for cooking, well, let’s just say that if the frankfurt hadn’t been invented, my kids would surely have starved.
Haya Waks looks impeccably groomed and attractive at all times. Now this really bewilders me. Firstly, how does she find the time to dress in the morning (I, mother of three, have been known to leave the house in my slippers)? Secondly, why have her kids left her looking so youthful and vibrant, when my three kids have stamped lines on my face and bags under my eyes (although that’s possibly just because I haven’t had time to wash my face in a decade)?
Thirdly, and most importantly, why does Haya allow herself to look so attractive all the time? If I was a mother of 17, I’d be doing my best to be as physically repugnant as possible – anything to keep my husband at bay and save myself from another pregnancy.
The Waks family can’t afford a nanny, but this doesn't pose a problem. They simply employ their own children, with each older child being responsible for a younger sibling.
Well, I tried that with my kids and it failed dismally. The only thing my son took responsibility for was to pinch his sister when I wasn’t looking, teach her to say ‘smelly bum bum’, and cut out big chunks of her hair with a pair of kitchen scissors.
Haya Waks believes that the role of the Jewish mother is to bring more Jewish souls into the world. (I agree with her. It's just that in my case, the souls have been brought into the world to test me.) And she is inspiring. So much so that when the documentary was over, my sixty-something mother sent me a text message announcing that she'd decided to have 15 more children.
I’m delighted. Truly. Better my mum than me. For one thing, I can’t be sure that my next children will eat frankfurts. For another thing, I’m still tired from giving birth.