Being married to an Environmental Planner, Conservationist, a Pro-Sustainability guy, AND someone who is in public service (not the most lucrative business and therefore disqualifying us from joining the 1% of Americans), we opted for having only two children.
My health also played a role in that decision since I could barely physically handle the two we already had. It was no secret that we wanted more children but made a conscious decision to stick to our plan and are now proud and grateful for our loving (most of the time) son and daughter.
My husband, let’s call him Enviro-Guy, has not only been the best thing that ever happened to me for endless reasons, he has also taught me how to appreciate the environment, think beyond my little world and to always consider the greater picture.
He knew he had his work cut out for him when he married me. After all, I was a young feisty Puerto Rican girl who wore heels and red lipstick on the first hike he took me on. The one who thought open space meant wasted space and wondered why they hadn’t built a mall on that land yet.
Also the girl, whose non environmentally friendly father had taught her that ALL insects must die. Even, when outside in their natural environment – minding their own business. Yes, I was a bug stomper/crusher and would consider Enviro-Guy to be insane for letting the spiders and insects that had the audacity to enter our home, live!
He taught me to appreciate wildlife. Particularly birds and a most peculiar endangered toad. The birdwatching I could handle, although I could never see the said bird all the other birders had spotted because I was binocular-challenged. I looked through the $500 lenses and could not orient myself to look in the right direction no matter how hard I tried. By the time I could figure it out and get the hang of the binoculars, the rare bird had flown back south.
The need to spot this peculiar small amphibian, the American Spadefoot Toad my husband was fascinated with, at precisely the right day, time, temperature and barometric pressure – made for some interesting romantic dates. It would be a warm, humid (not good for my hair), rainy spring evening, after having seen a movie or having gone out to dinner when suddenly – all would change.
Enviro-Guy would get quiet and lost in his thoughts while driving home. I would notice that he would take a different route home. Usually a dark secluded road. I of course, thought he wanted to get romantic in the car and was trying to find the perfect spot to park the car.
I would soon learn his real intentions. This tiny endangered toad, famous for being an “explosive breeder”, would wait until the first warm rainy night, to come out to breed. Tons of them! Enviro-Guy, who was doing research on this explosive breeder, wanted to witness this phenomenon and to learn where their vernal pools and breeding grounds were so they could continue to protect them.
He also did not want the little lovers to get flattened on the road by other cars and would make a barrier with our car to protect them.
The only explanation I can think of, for my ability and willingness to sit patiently in the car with the windows fogged up (not from any human explosive breeding going on…), listening to the rain, with the bright headlights pointing right at the toads, feeling the frizz in my hair increase, waiting for Enviro-Guy, is = LOVE (for him, not the toads).
Getting back to the children issue, I grew up with 3 siblings. Two boys and two girls, perfectly and evenly matched. I watched my parents sacrifice a lot for us and struggle to make ends meet. We easily filled a station wagon and made a dent on our parent’s wallets with a trip to McDonald’s.
I am extremely close to all of my siblings. All of us, without a single doubt, will go to the end of the earth and back for each other at a moment’s notice. And, even after years of the typical “let’s blame our parents for all our failures” – therapy we underwent, we adore our parents and have always been there for them.
This fact proved to be true upon the illness and death of my father, 15 years ago. We rallied as a family, taking turns going home to help our mother and be by our father’s side. When one of us could not be there, we knew there were three others that could.
Enviro-Guy, came from a family of 6 kids – all boys. His saint of a mother had given birth to four boys, was hoping for a girl and ended up (without prior knowledge) with twin boys (surprise!) A perfect ‘stepladder’ of adorable, crew-cut, rambunctious, peanut butter and jelly boys.
My children have benefited tremendously from this abundance of aunts and uncles. Our family gatherings are filled with lot’s of chatter, laughter (oftentimes-disagreements) and fun.
This past weekend, I was forced to think about what it means to have a large family, as we celebrated my almost 90-year-old father-in-law’s special recognition by his town for his many accolades.
He ended up getting ill and almost did not make it to the 200-people ceremony. We were all very worried about him and felt bad that this well-deserved special event was being interrupted by his health.
It was truly an amazing sight to watch those six wonderful sons attend to their father. While some sat with him, others re-assured their mother. As they stabilized him, they would switch off making sure that no one brother took the bulk of the responsibility.
The evening was a success and he was able to stay for the whole ceremony. His sons were not able to relax, eat or take their eyes off their father and were on guard to run to his aid if needed.
After observing this incredible act of love, I felt a sense of sadness. Sadness that we only had two kids. That, as they grow and live their lives, they will only have each other for support, encouragement and comradery. And, will carry all the burden of our ailing health in the years to come.
It brings me peace however, to know that they have a close relationship with each other. They have grown up observing the amount of love and dedication their aunts, uncles and parents, have exhibited toward each other. I am thankful that they have this foundation, and can continue to develop into caring and devoted siblings and loving adult children.
As a bonus, they have also become quite the avid recyclers, are good at turning off the lights, are getting better at conserving water (my daughter has yet to master this) and are committed to doing all they can to help protect our planet!