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Friday, January 6, 2012

on having a big family

So apparently having three children means you have a big family. Did you know this? I didn't. But, it seems to be true.

I went to the mall today with the kiddies. We have a pass to the aquarium there and I was determined to go, even without dada. And so we did.

And everywhere I went I saw mamas with one, maybe two kids. And everywhere I went I was getting looks. Not judging. Just looks. They look at me, head to toe, they look at my kids, decked out in their mall finery, they look at baby, they look back at me, then they look down at their one or two kids in the stroller. An almost quizzical look on their faces.

You can totally see the thought progression. "Huh. She looks kinda hippy like. Are those dreads? Oh. Wow. Three kids. Dang they are cute. Wait, she is at the Mall ALONE with THREE kids. Woah. I only have one and I barely made it out the door."

To which I give a wan smile, trying my hardest to project the following to her "My friend, I barely made it out the door too. In fact I have been wearing yoga pants and pajamas around the house all week and literally had to FORCE myself to get here. And do you know what just happened? My baby just peed on the changing table in the restroom ONCE I TOOK THE DIAPER OFF all over her clothes AND the change of clothes I have for her is newborn size. OOPS. We are headed to Gap Kids to buy her another outfit. Seriously. Can you believe this??? I am barely holding it together most of the time."

But I don't. I just smile. (By the way, that actually happened this morning.)

Here is the thing that I don't get. That most people dont get. Having more than one kid is just slightly more work than having one. Its NOT twice the work. NOT three times the work. Its just one more mouth to listen to. One more little hand to corral when crossing the street. And - I SWEAR TO THIS - the benefits outweigh the "slightly more work" element. Last night little man held baby while I got little miss undressed for the bath. A little thing. But so convenient. He and little miss play so well together. And baby has no need for flashy interactive toys when she has them to look at. By the time you get to four kids, the oldest being seven, man, piece of cake! A seven year old can do all sorts of helpful things. I know I did.

And I would too. Were my body to let me. My last pregnancy was just then the scary birth, ack, dont know if I can do it.

But I look around my little crew and I think, me and dada, we make nice babies. They are pretty to look at. Entertaining. Smart, if slightly on the rascal side. I like them. Really. I really, really do. They are kinda the bomb, as they say. If I could take away all thoughts of space in our house, impact on my body, scary delivery, future career thoughts, etc. I would totally keep having babies. Lots of 'em. For as long as I could. Looks at the mall be damned. Have a proper big family. Not three kids, that isnt big. Like five. six. Live on our dream goat farm. Write books. Surround myself with my babies. I totally would.

You know?

Anyway. Those are my thoughts on that. But I have three. Big family or not. And sure, its a lot of work. It requires a lot of coffee. Not enough sleep. But damn, it is worth it.
by the way. look who is on the move!
she started out laying on the rug...OH MY.
time to rid the floor of stray legos!


  1. Wow, that's great that you don't feel like having more than one kid is lots of work. I feel quite the opposite. We just spent 3 nights in a cabin up north with another family that has 3 kids (ages 3, 8, and 12). My friend was constantly being tugged on, whined to, sassed at,... It nearly drove me over the edge and they weren't even mine. I bet it helps that you came from a really big family, and that you were a big sister.
    I certainly do agree that you and Steve make cute babies!

  2. Delia - its loads of work. of course it is. and yes, more so with more kids. my point though is that having two kids isnt TWICE the work. Three kids isnt THREE times the work. and really all parenting is work... whether you have one kid or three! imagine if just one of your friends kids was with you for the weekend. she probably wouldve been spending the whole time being tugged on, etc. in any case you know?

    and also all. i hope this doesnt come off as braggy or whatever. i am trying to say parenting is hard. for all of us! its so much work! its just strange to me that people think three is SO MUCH harder than one or two. that i get looked at like i have two heads for being out in public with them by myself...thats all. you know?

  3. I always found it odd that people felt that three was so many, too. I am the oldest of three, so to me, three is normal. Sort of like a default mode, lol! But dh and I felt that three wasn't easy--actually I think what made that year so hard was the start of homeschooling and an overwhelming amount of working outside the home for me. (18 hours plus time traveling *was* overwhelming.)

    And having four is currently kicking my butt. Not the kids, but the housework that never gets done. I *will* say, having a 'big' family is a great motivation for making my bigger kids help out. And my 7-year-old has blossomed into a great helper--she wasn't always. ;)

  4. I like this post. And I wholeheartedly disagree. As with any situation, it totally depends on the kids and the parents. If I only had had one, my oldest (of 2--I'm small family kinda people), my life (as I imagine it, anyway) would be a piece of cake. I love her, she's great, she's fun, she's EASY! When traveling by airplane I literally scoff at families with one child--geesh, I think, I could do that in my sleep. But having two didn't double my workload, it exponentially increased my workload. Not because I now simply had two children but because of who those two are, how they play off of one another, their ages apart, etc. I often think of having another... and then there comes a night of family stomach-flu. And I think, "Who am I kidding?" I have heard people tell stories about how the transition from a family of 4 to a family of 5 is not a big deal, and I am skeptical. But, no lie, you seem to have it together. And that is why I read your blog, and why I will continue to admire you from afar! Happy mall outings, and happy continued winter fun!

  5. ha. well. do i print a retraction on my poorly generalized post?? :)
    in any case, first off. it is work. of course. more than ever before...three is HARD. you all know what the past few months have been like for me (well, snapshots at least) i just dont think its so abnormal or difficult to warrant the "two head" looks i get at the mall....

    but your point jayme about the personal family situations is well taken...and makes me think back...lets see, kid #1, little man, was A LOT of work. i didnt sleep for more than four hours at a time for two years. (and then little miss came to us!) he is STILL super intense and, well, needy, and much as he feels bad about it, dada wasnt around at all for jack's first year. he was in his last year of law school. i basically was it that first year. AND i was consulting full time from home so right off the bat i was juggling kid duties and client calls and so on even with a nanny part time it was A LOT. a very isolating year, with no real community. with little miss, well, dada was working, i was working much less and by her first birthday hardly at all. she was a much calmer baby and while the transition to two was ROUGH it was still juggling, as i had been, just a different set of balls (kid two replacing the work i had done, plus the added bonus of a partner who was around and helpful) kid #3, well, she was quite finicky at first but as eased into a lovely little baby, happy and content.

    all in all an awful lot of work yes, but hardly worth the "that woman must be crazy" stares i get...

    anybody else have a different perspective on this? i do love hearing from others. and this is what i love about blogging, opening up our minds and hearts to each other and our stories how they are different...and the same... :)

  6. ps that last bit sounded quite hokey. but you all get what i mean, right?

  7. Oh, and just a quick p.s. to your original thought. I do personally consider 3 a relatively big family these days. But then, I came from a family of 2 kids. Do I think it warrants stares? Nah. But I will fully admit to being the one (especially before I had kids) who would say in my head, but, shame on me, also aloud sometimes, "Boy, looks like you have your hands full." I now shudder when I think of how that must sound to a mother who is doing her darnedest. To be honest, I admire the men and women who have big families, who open their hearts and lives to the organized chaos of having a large family. Maybe the looks you get are actually people quizzically entertaining having another baby...Ha! I know I do that! This is a great post--so many thoughts you could expand on. Keep doing all your hard work, I know you weren't meaning it to come off as "look ma, no hands" about raising 3. I guess this wasn't a quick p.s. at all!

  8. I have 5 kids and I will say that I really agree with Sara. The bigs ones are helpful, and it is good for them to be the family as a whole working together...ala old school farms and pioneers.
    The transition to three was the toughest, and I hae really bad pregnancies so the last 2 nine monthish stints of pregnancy for #4 adn #5 were much worse than the new baby in house.
    I had goals or could say calls to missionary work in my late teens into marriage...God had plans to get my family born first and then begin to send me off to Central America and beyond. I am more mature, have more to offer and am more realistic than my 20s self. I brought my 13month old on one medical mission trip in 2009. So awesome, and now I am preparing my 17yr old for her second trip to Asia and the middle somehow even as I may not have gone all over the world serving and helping communities as I had thought...I have raised a global thinker, who wants to GO and serve. My mission in my home has been part, breadmaker, diaper changer, laundry washer, pants hemmer, party planner and listener as well as mostly nurturer of young hearts to be all they are to go to their generation and serve. I don't feel it is second fiddle and I see my time of global work on the horizon, but I have no regrets...


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