Yes, they are all mine. No, I am not Catholic. No, I am not Amish. Yes, I believe in birth control. No, I don’t homeschool. No, I didn’t adopt. Yes, they are twins. No, they are not identical. Yes, we wanted this many children. Yes, they were all planned. Yes, they were natural. No, they were not an accident. No, we are not a blended family. Yes, we have our hands full, in the best of ways.
After our fourth child was born 8 years ago, my husband and I began receiving many stereotypical and personal questions about our child-bearing decisions. After our fifth child arrived, we really started getting drilled while out in public with our brood. Is it an odd phenomenon that complete strangers feel so inclined to ask so many questions and subject so many judgments on families with many children? Probably not so much of an odd phenomenon at all in America, where the average family has just 1.9 children as of 2018. This is a decrease from 2.33 children under age 18 per family in 1960. Which means, while other families are choosing less, we decided to choose more. And well, more means more for our family! We happen to believe big families have a lot of fun!
I remember meeting a new mom friend who casually mentioned, “You are one of those moms who actually likes spending time with your kids…” She had perused my Facebook “family scrapbook” and probably saw the truth that I do actually love spending time being a mom to many. I remember chuckling to myself thinking, “Um, yeah. Why wouldn’t I want to spend as much time as possible with the children I conceived, carried, birthed, and nursed for so many years? Why wouldn’t I want to spend time with the little army of children I had helped create? Why wouldn’t I want to prioritize my time to give them as much love, guidance and nurturing as possible?”
I suppose our experience with hardship early on birthing our babies (and losing one through a difficult miscarriage) has something to do with our seemingly over-zealous approach and actual love of spending time with our children. Maybe not entirely…Yet, our perspective most definitely changed after watching three of our five children fight for their lives early on in the NICU for many days and months on end.
Have you ever experienced your child on life support? Have you ever fallen to your knees and begged God to save your child’s life? Have you ever prayed to give your child hope and a future while sitting in the hospital helpless for days and months on end watching them fight for their lives? Well, we did, three times over. If the answer is yes for you as well, then you are definitely in a club of parents like us who have a perspective and attitude about your children’s lives that has been influenced by the adversity you endured. Your attitude and gratitude for the gift and time of parenting, as well as your child’s health, isn’t something you take for granted.
Our story of bringing five beautiful children into the world was full of curve balls and intense roller coasters that changed who we are and how we parent. It hasn’t been an easy one. Our children were all healthy babies in utero, however, we were unlucky with very unfortunate medical induction errors and malpractice situations at birth that almost cost us our children’s lives. We were very lucky all of our children survived and are here thriving today. We try not to look back and we let go and know they all wrote their own story for a reason… and we give thanks for the enlightenment these experiences and hardships have provided to our family.
So, the next time a stranger approaches our family and comments, “Wow, you have your hands full, don’t you…” I’ll continue to hold my head high and smile, while I offer them one of my two grocery carts to push. Back in the day, I may have handed them a dirty diaper or a crying toddler or two to soothe.
After all, we all know it takes a village.
We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook pageis here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all.)