How I "Manage": Kids, Trolls, Fools, & Eisenstein's Latest Essay

How I "Manage": Kids, Trolls, Fools, & Eisenstein's Latest Essay

People ask me all the time, how I “manage” with all these kids. 

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Sometimes the question is posed with a very obvious tinge of distaste—with an almost perverse fascination with our apparent freak show, and as though the query is going to elicit from me some delicious tidbit of insight into my particular brand of insanity. (A waiter, recently, remarked rather cool-ly, “whoa, your family is crazy…” Hm. No thank you. While it’s true that we have big energy, we also rack up a fairly hefty bill when we eat out, and I love to tip, but not for being denigrated. We won’t be back).  

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Most of the time, the question of How I Manage comes from other mothers, who have the “normal” 2.5-3.6 kids, and who, understandably, find mothering hard, and who I think are genuinely curious about me…but also perhaps surprised that I’m not quite as haggard and bedraggled as women are supposed to be in my position? On other occasions, I’m sure I do come across as quite pitifully overwhelmed…as do mothers of only children, from time to time, of course. 

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It’s a silly question though, isn’t it. And a lazy one. And it would be frankly openly offensive in any context other than obliquely prying into a woman’s reproductive choices. How does anyone “manage”? With anything? How do you “manage” with that awful husband of yours? How do you “manage” with your health condition? How do you “manage” being so unlikeable? There is an unmistakeable critique—a dubiousness— in there, that most of us can do without. 

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No one asks me how I “manage” being so fabulous (ha), and I doubt the wealthy ever get asked how they “manage” with all that money. I’ve never thought to ask a child-free woman how she “manages” to function without kids, fancy that. Yes, I’m being facetious, and Yes, I do, truly, give all but the most obviously mean-spirited people the benefit of the doubt. 

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But honestly, the possibility of *not* “managing” all these kids doesn’t cross my mind. They’re my children. They’re my family. We don’t really “manage” any of it (although yes, as with every family, big or small, there are moments of chaos and serenity, and I do strive for some semblance of order, for the most part). But we mostly just…live. 

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And while I do have some logistical tips, and strategies for others with large families, those aren’t nearly as significant as what I want to share with every mother (and father) I encounter, which is my invitation to you to *choose* to love your kids and to like them, and to enjoy being with them, in every moment. 

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And maybe that’s my real answer: How do I manage with all these kids? Well, I really really love them, and I like them, and I enjoy being with them. I think they’re amazing, fascinating, hilarious, (mostly) lovely people. 

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Yes, I’ve had sleepless nights (though not many, I’ll admit). And yes, my almost-11-going-on-16 year old daughter is shockingly rude to me from time to time (which I don’t take too seriously at all, thankfully), and yes, I’ve spent an evening or two researching boarding schools for my almost-13 year old who, at his age, already possesses the requisite arrogance and pomposity and passion for argumentation that would rival the most formidable of lawyers, sigh. (And No, I couldn’t ever send him away, nor would I ever actually want to, no matter how tempting the fantasy might be, once in a blue moon). Overwhelmingly though, I love my life so much—my kids as individuals, and our family unit as a whole, and it’s a joy to see our children thriving, *especially* during this past 18 months, as we have travelled the world, immersing ourselves in a multitude of environments, cultures, meeting incredible people, and discussing and feeling it all. We have, like everyone, experienced so much upheaval, and change, and challenge, but since leaving Canada in October of 2020, to living in the Dominican Republic, then Costa Rica, and now, finally, settling in what increasingly seems to be our new home, it’s such a gift to witness our kids and our family dynamic blossom. And yes, I am proud of us.

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Crucially, I’m not alone as a parent. Lee and I are a pretty great team, and we’ve chosen to love, and like each other too. Lee also probably does a somewhat larger percentage of the full-on caregiving than I do, as I work full time outside of my family obligations, and I’m grateful to have such an amazing partner. That said, if Lee—God forbid—ever got hit by a bus, I know I would keep right on going, and we would be ok, and the same is true for him, in reverse. 

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I think most people are kind. But it’s undeniable that there is a fairly enormous stigma associated with having this many children. From accusations (made to my face) of bearing personal responsibility for climate change, to offensive comments about my vagina, I’ve probably heard it all (and every other mother of more than 3.8 children that I’ve encountered has experienced the same, at least from time to time, unfortunately). Mostly, the disapproval, when it shows up, is couched, veiled as “concern”, or even, once in a while, sure enough, disguised by the question/statement, “How DO you manage with all those kids?! And another on the way?? My goodness…” And to this, I usually smile gaily, and say “we sure do have a great time!”

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Occasionally though, I receive messages from people who are open enough and honest enough to say what they really think about me, and my kids, and my family, and as always, the real revelation in these kinds of missives is theirs and theirs alone. 

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I received such a message last night—written as a public comment in response to one of my posts on Instagram, in which I refer to the masking of children (which of course I have participated in) as abusive, (a position I fully maintain).  I immediately deleted the comment and blocked the commenter, as I always do whenever anyone trolls me, annoys me, or wastes my time, and I screenshot the comment. 

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The woman (as confirmed by her profile and photo—the latter showing what appears to be a masked bandit, of course), had written the following:

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“I think child abuse is also birthing so many children that you can’t provide for them on a level that they deserve in order to thrive mentally and socially. I also think child abuse is continuing to be naked in the presence of your son hitting puberty. Child abuse is taking way their innocence by making them witness you grunting and groaning giving birth! Just because you’re an anti-[Maxxer] you don’t have the right to push YOUR agenda hun it’s not the Holy Grail! You are WRONG!!!”

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I have, I realized, developed quite a thick skin when it comes to trolling of this sort, and while my initial reaction to this when I read it was to laugh, I remember feeling gutted in the past, when I received comments like this. As always though, when the scorn and disgust wears off, what’s left is real pity, and, believe it or not, compassion. 

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I read the comment to Lee—it’s certainly helpful (and legitimate) to derive some entertainment from these people, after all—and his response was similar. “Gosh. This poor woman. This really exposes so very much, doesn’t it?”.  And that’s really very true—her transparent self-hatred (and unalloyed misogyny) really serves only to illuminate the depth of this individual’s own trauma, and, I can’t help but assume, a past that has involved serious abuse and suffering. The fact that she so boldly associates my assumed position on injections, with the totality of my parenting approach (and sees them all as WRONG!!!), revealing such a skewed and perverse perspective on what constitutes abuse, actually reminded me of the pitifully inept article that Lissa Rankin recently posted (here: https://lissarankin.com/why-comparing-the-unvaxxed-to-the-persecuted-jews-is-an-abomination-why-healthy-boundaries-are-not-the-same-as-fascism/ , in response to Charles Eisenstein’s latest essay, an excellent piece (which doesn’t *quite* hit the target, but I love it nonetheless, and I’d like to expand on that assessment later, so bear with me) titled “Mob Morality and the Un[maxxed]” https://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/mob-morality-and-the-unvaxxed . 

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In Rankin’s embarrassing, bumbling attempted-takedown, she succeeds only in exposing her own terror, dogmatism, and ignorance, delivered in a manner that comes across as very much in keeping with behaviours and characteristics generally seen to be in alignment with what most reasonable people would agree constitutes mental illness, a charge that Rankin ironically projects onto Eisenstein in her flail of an essay. It’s a bit of a train-wreck, in other words. 

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That said, we’re living through a time when everything is being turned on its head. Those in power, including the state, the media, and its minions and shills (like Rankin, sadly), are promulgating evil as truth, sickness as “health”, fascism as “healthy boundaries”, and authentic love and care as “abuse”. It’s a world of inversion and subversion. 

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What we can, and must do, as parents, and as individuals who are committed to creating a future that is truly whole, and loving, is to open ourselves to what we know is right, and good. Not with a sense of grasping, or desperation, but with both openness and conviction. For an increasing number of us, that means abandoning the surface virtues of moral relativism and the comfortable cowardice of ambivalence and stepping into truth, as paradoxically ambivalent as that truth might be, and “managing” all this: Managing ourselves, managing our emotions, managing our children, which, as I said earlier, doesn’t really have anything to do with “management” at all, but rather with the *choice* that we can all make, to love and like and appreciate ourselves, to love and like and appreciate our children, and love, like, appreciate, and enjoy our lives. 

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Love, 

 

Yolande 


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