The Pleasures of Unplanned Parenthood

My wife, Evann, and I met at an advertising agency in New Orleans, where I worked as a copywriter and she as a graphic artist. We were married at St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter on October 18, 1986, but established our first home together just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where I had secured employment as an editor of a news magazine and Evann landed a job as art director at a Bay State advertising agency. Our first daughter, Maria, was born in Boston the following year. In the meantime, the firm Evann worked for on Boylston Street had gone out of business and she decided to become a full-time mother, though continuing to accept free-lance design work when possible.

Evann has homeschooled our five children from the beginning, and we’re both delighted by the unconstraint of their curiosity, the individuality of their intelligence, and the sincerity of their sympathy for each other. Maria, Ida, and Isabel are just finishing seventh, fourth, and second grades, respectively, and four-year-old Maxine has mastered the alphabet and her numbers 1 to 20. Crozet, our 18-month-old toddler, has learned a great deal just by watching and mimicking his big sisters at their studies. All of the kids love to draw, and they fly through the reams of scrap paper that I bring home from the office.

Maria, Ida, Isabel, and Maxine all take ballet and music classes and, over the years, have sung in the church choir, participated in 4-H activities, belonged to a stamp-collecting club, and played on soccer teams with other homeschooling kids. All four girls are movie buffs and cartoon aficionados. Maria, the eldest, adores Marilyn Monroe, Ida and Isabel are mesmerized by the miniature movie magic of The Borrowers and the animated Antz , and “Max” is bonkers for Betty Boop. The girls especially love musicals, and it’s not uncommon in the Duplantier household to hear Maria or Ida singing, in the tub, about how they’re going to “wash that man right out of my hair,” or Isabel and Maxine using hairbrushes for microphones as they belt out “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya, Tomorrow. You’re only a day away!” There’s nonstop free entertainment at the Cabaret Duplantier.

Evann and I advise married couples not to postpone the pleasures of parenthood. “We can’t afford kids right now, we’re just not ready yet” is a frequently heard refrain. We counsel against such rigid pragmatism. If you wait ’til you’re “ready” to have kids, you may never have any, we warn. We certainly weren’t ready for our first child when Maria was born just two weeks shy of our first wedding anniversary, and we weren’t ready for our son either, when he arrived a year ago last November. We were broke when the stork first came, and we’re broke still. The only difference is, we now have five beautiful children who give meaning to our lives in more ways than we can ever describe.

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