I have seven children. I have changed a lot of diapers, cleaned a lot of vomit, carried many crying children out of stores, and have seen many, many school concerts. I hear a lot of criticism, and also receive a lot of encouragement; but, ultimately it’s my wonderful life and I am indifferent to how others feel about it. It’s easy to view other people’s lives as one-dimensional. But there are a few things I wish people could understand about parents of big families:
1.We don’t see our family as big: Our family is just that, our family. We don’t see it as big or small. It’s our family. It’s day to day life and it’s just like everyone else’s . We just have to buy more groceries and plan more birthday parties.
2.Each one of our children is loved as an individual: I’ve had people tell me that they couldn’t imagine having so many kids, because they wouldn’t want to lose the close relationship that they have with their child. What people don’t understand is that just doesn’t happen. I know each one of my kids as individuals and, even though I often call them the wrong name, could not imagine not having a good relationship with them. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I can’t remember if they hate mushrooms or if they’re currently eating meat; but, I never forget what makes them laugh, what warms their soul, and what they need when they’re sad! It doesn’t matter how many children a mother has, she knows her kids better than she knows herself!
3.I can’t speak for all of us, but I am NOT organized: When people find out I have a lot of kids, they often assume I’m very organized. It’s actually quite the opposite. I can’t tell you where my car keys are, if I remembered to sign a permission form, or any of the appointments anyone in the family has that month without checking my calendar! My life is essentially chaos and I love it that way. I have a diabetic daughter, 2 autistic daughters, and a daughter with celiac. Being comfortable in chaos means that I can adjust to change quite easily! You need insulin? Alright throw it in the mixing bowl that is my life! No more gluten? Toss it in there! Sensory needs? Alright, let’s make this chaos softer and less noisy! Even when they started to move away, I continued to include them in my chaos! The needs of one, are the needs of the family! That doesn’t change when you go to school, or move away! We all help each other. I should point out that this has also helped me raise, and continue to raise very adaptable children that can easily accommodate other people’s needs!
4.Making Mom friends is really difficult: I could probably write an entire post about this one point! I may do that one day. Until then, however, I will just say that I basically have nothing in common with most other Moms. They worry about things that I don’t worry about anymore, they prioritize things that I don’t prioritize anymore, and they spend money on things that I don’t spend my money on anymore. I have a very different life than most Moms, and my focus is very different. It’s very difficult for me to have depth in a friendship when I consistently hold back out of fear of sounding like a judgmental know-it-all, or completely overwhelming.
5.We know how people judge: I am well aware of the comments, and my kids are aware as well. We know what people say, and the jokes that are made. We know what most first impressions are and that we need to prove ourselves to escape that label. I would like to take this time to clear up a few things, once and for all! I have known all along how babies are made; I have a TV, several in fact; I was not trying for a boy, I was trying for another member of the family; I am not religious; I have several hobbies, having babies is just one of them; and yes, I have heard of over-population, No, I didn’t think about it when planning my children. Now that you have the answers, maybe you can stop asking?!
6.We still worry: Just because I have so many kids doesn’t mean I don’t worry every night that I’m not doing it right. It doesn’t mean that I don’t second guess myself. I still cry when my kids cry and stay awake until I hear my teenager come home. I still baby my babies and struggle to let go as they become adults. I’m in no rush for them to grow and leave home.
7.We Understand why some parents choose to have small families: Having a family this size is a lot of work! A busy house means a lot of emotional and physical needs need to be met. Making sure everyone in the family, in and out of the house, feels loved and cared for is tiring! I wouldn’t change the size of my family for anything in the world, but every family has different needs! No matter the size, though, there is no feeling that is as rewarding as the feeling you get from taking care of and loving your family! I’m so blessed to feel that with the intensity that comes from having so many people to love and care for!
Big families aren’t all the same. They all have their own obstacles and conflicts. One thing they all share, though, is the knowledge that they are a part of something unique, strong, and rare. I’m not expecting my kids to have big families. To be honest, they may decide not to have kids at all. I would get that! The world is changing so quickly! I’m just so happy I got to live the life I did with my big, amazing family!