Big families aren’t for everyone. Kids aren’t even for everyone. But I just can’t help wondering why having four kids feels so abnormal. People want to hear that your kids were either a surprise (you never would have planned this!). Or you must be Catholic or Mormon. There is no other explanation.
When my kids hop out of our car, I see people taking a mental headcount. I get comments every time I am out in public with my family. “Wow, you have your hands full!” Well, compared to you, I guess I do. Also, since you noticed, can you watch them while I take his brother to the bathroom?
Or the always annoying, “Are they all yours?” Which seems rhetorical but based on how shocked they look when I say yes, maybe not. I had one sweet lady come up to me and say, “Oh, what a lucky lady you are!” That was my favorite. I’m happy to have four kids. I love having a big family.
I also get why many people are completely happy with one child. And more than content with two. Two is plenty. It is actually a great number, all things considered (man on man coverage, to be specific). But when did we establish this rule that our kids mustn’t outnumber us? Are we afraid of them? (I actually am sometimes.)
The reality is, our society isn’t set up for us “crazy” people that have more than one or two kids. If we want to stay in a hotel, we are required to book two rooms unless there is a suite available. Guess how many hotels we stay in as a military family moving every 2-3 years? And guess how often we want to splurge for the penthouse suite with our wild crew?
Family packages for vacations and events are almost always catered to a family of four. In general, having more than two kids in tow makes you look, and often times feel, out of place …(restaurants, an airplane, basically anywhere with the exception of Chick-Fil-A).
The funny thing is, big families used to mean 10 or more kids. I guess it’s all relative to the times. But I think a lot of people miss out on the joys of having a larger family these days because of the pressure placed on parents. There is no village concept anymore. If you aren’t doing everything perfectly for your kids, you are failing. There are no shared responsibilities among moms. No tag teaming. You are the mom and you must create the most perfect childhood possible for your kids. No excuses!
But what is often not considered is what the siblings give (and continue to give once we are long gone) to each other. When my mom passed away a few years ago, I realized just how lucky I was to have a piece of her in each of my siblings.
In fact, I think the best thing we ever did for our firstborn son was to have his sister shortly after him. And the best thing we did for both of them was to have our twins (although the twin part was unexpected). The world doesn’t revolve around any of them because it literally can’t. And I’m so glad. Things most kids learn and practice in school like sharing, empathy, and patience are things they have been required to live out all the time at home.
And I’m not saying everyone should have a bunch of kids. I know many people aren’t fortunate enough to have the choice of how many, if any, in their hands. I know that some people would love to have a big family but circumstances have prevented that in one way or another.
I know that people make the decision to have children based on so many important factors. And I don’t want to disregard heavy considerations such as finances or health. I just think that a lot of people would consider having more kids if it didn’t feel so strange or impossible.
Ask any mom or dad, what is the best thing that ever happened to them? Or how many of their kids they regret having? I would bet that most would say having their kids is at the top of the list and they have no regrets with having their kids.
Actually, the only regret I have heard is the decision to not have any more kids. I really think most people just stop having kids when they feel like they are supposed to. Or like us, when they get so overwhelmed in the short term that the idea of even adding a goldfish into their lives would sink their ship for good.
Who knows…maybe I’m just trying to get more people on my side. I won’t feel so out of place if other people are doing it. Help a mama out! (I know, peer pressure much?) But I have also seen the other side. It’s not so bad. It shouldn’t be feared. There is so much to gain.
So if you are on the fence about having another kid, consider what is driving your decision. Normal standards are only normal because they became that way over time. Maybe if enough “crazy” people start having a few kids we can get back to our village mentality. Help each other out. Enjoy our kids more without constant, relentless pressure.