I have heard it all…
“You sure have you’re hands full!”
“Are they all yours?”
“Are you guys done?”
“Were they planned?”
“I can’t imagine having that many kids.”
And my personal favorite…
“You know what causes that, right?”
Most of the time I don’t let these comments get to me, however I would be lying if I said they didn’t bother me from time to time. By society’s standards I have a large family. I am mom of four kids who are all under the age of 7.
I live in a prominent Mormon community where having a lot of kids in normal. Although I am not Mormon, no one really bats an eye when I walk in the grocery store with a baby in my arms and three kids trailing behind me like little ducklings. Most presume I am Mormon or just wonder what ward I belong to since they’ve never seen me at church.
But I get comments weekly about my large family, especially when I visit my home town where the average family has two kids.
Let me be the first to say, parenting is hard! Whether you have one child or ten. Yes, being a parent is incredible. Raising children brings me so much joy but that doesn’t make it easy. Parenthood is just a situation where the pros outweigh the cons.
Some say you have to be crazy to be a parent, well as a mom of four I must be down right nuts! I always wanted lots of kids, so I guess I have been crazy for a while. On this wild and unpredictable journey of motherhood, I have discovered that being a mom to so many children has made myself a better parent.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Ya, she’s nuts alright! How could you possibly be a better parent to more children versus one or two?”
Well, when I was a mom of one child, I was a total helicopter parent. I was constantly hovering and worrying about him. It was the same when I became a mom for the second time… and again when I had my third child. I believe I was so anxious because my three older children were all born in a two and half year span. At one point all three were in diapers! Having so many little ones depending on you for their every need is bound to cause anyone anxiety. I’m getting anxious thinking about those days!
My fourth child was born almost four years after our third child. We had been out of the baby stage for a while. We even had to buy all new stuff because we thought we were done. When our youngest entered the world, we had three kids who were pretty independent, potty trained and slept through the night. I didn’t have time to hover their every move as much because I had a new born and I was recovering from delivering him. My older children were able to get a snack if they were hungry between meals, find a good movie on Netflix if they were bored and enjoyed sleeping in. With four kids, no body has time to be a helicopter parent 24/7.
During the time of adjusting from 3 kids to 4, I learned to pick my battles. I learned that the laundry was never going to go away so I didn’t stress myself out if I did not wash clothes everyday. I learned to appreciate dirty dishes because that means my family has been fed.
I also discovered to not be afraid to ask for help or take advantage of opportunities to make my life a little easier. I never thought I would have my children ride the bus to school because we don’t live that far from their school and as a stay-at-home mom I figured I had time. Now, I do have the time to drive my kids to and from school but having them ride the bus home is a sanity saver! I don’t have to wake up my younger two kids from nap time to drive to town to wait in a car pool line to pick them up. Plus, my kids love riding the bus home. They take on some responsibility to make sure they get on the right bus on time, learn to be better listeners and made wonderful friends that they never would have met if it wasn’t for riding the bus.
I developed a schedule that works for our family and our family functions wonderfully because of it. My kids know what to expect and behave better because they have the structure. I am a happier mom because of the schedule. I don’t have to yell or discipline as much because my kids’ behavior is better. I also don’t have the bedtime battles as much which allows more time for my husband and I and for me to spend some much needed time on myself.
I also have learned to slow down more and appreciate the little things like tiny handprints on the sliding glass door or the sounds a baby makes when he drinks his bottle. I learned to stop and listen to my kids, truly listen to what they have to say.
Before I know it there won’t be little handprints to clean up or babies to feed or children to visit with. They will be grown, living their lives and this chapter will be a memory.
I am still learning to be more patient. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. But with four kids, I have no choice but to work on being more patient and if it wasn’t for being a mother to so many , I would not have to work on that aspect of my personality nor make it a priority.
I have been told, “With so many kids, there is no way that you could truly have a great relationship with them all.” Actually I have a good relationship with all of my kids. Could it be better, yes. I work on it daily. Relationships of any kind take work, patience, time and love. Every day I try to be a better parent to each child and try to find ways to spend time with each child, whether it is when I am cooking dinner, running errands, doing dishes or tucking them in. I find ways to make each of my children feel special and work on my individual relationships with each of them.
Just the other day my son told me that he was so thankful that he had so many siblings because he always had someone to play with and there was never a dull moment. Our house is loud, our house can be chaotic but there is so much love he wouldn’t change it for the world. My children have been learning from a very young age to be selfless, to share, to be kind to others and think of others because they have so many siblings.
I grew up as an only child and prayed every night for a brother or sister. It was lonely but I learned to entertain myself and be my own best friend. As I became an adult, I had to learn to be selfless, to make sacrifices and to think of others before myself. My children will have a much better grasp on those traits.
Am I a perfect mother?
Am I more of a mother because I have four children versus one or two?
I am learning every day how to be a better me for my husband, for my children and for myself. We all have bad days. I feel like I have too many parenting days where I wish I had more patience or I wish I had more energy. I am after all only human. But I am a calmer parent because I had to learn to roll with the punches that motherhood throws my way and to not dwell on the little things but learn to appreciate them.
Yes, my hands are full but my heart is even fuller.
Yes, they are all mine and I am so thankful that they are.
I don’t know if we will have more kids but that is between my husband, myself and God.
Yeah, they were planned. Some by my hubby, myself and God… some were just planned by God.
I can’t imagine not having this many kids!
And yes, I know what causes it and I am careful not to drink the water!