Life in a large family.

There are a few things that I knew I would forego for a few years while raising my children. I think all parents know that when they decide to have kids. It’s normal. It’s average. It’s expected. Having six children is no longer “normal, average or expected”.

This actually makes me sad. Our family size was a typical one not so long ago. I hear many women speak of how they can not afford more children, that one I understand. Yes money is tight, right now, for us it’s tighter than it has been in the past. I’m trying to stay home with my kids and it’s not going so well in the checkbook department.

I have no expectations of the people I meet that I will not extend myself. I judge no one for the size of their family. That is such a personal choice, why would anyone think that they have the right to judge? I don’t make assumptions as to why someone chooses to have one child. One of the most respectful things a person can do is to choose not to have children if they don’t wish to. I think that it’s a noble thing, and I believe that the world might be a better place if those who do not want to embrace parenting, absolutely did not bother.

With all of that said, my large family results in a lot of laughter in my life. For those of you who do not know me well, I have three sons, ages 24,20 and 18. Mark came into my life thirteen years ago, and together we have three daughters ages 12,10 and 9. For one month out of the year, the girls are actually sequential ages. It makes for a fun thing to say. People looked at me oddly during August.

Eh, let’s face it. People look at me oddly no matter what.
I have other friends whose children are closer in age, and they tend to come under more fire. I have sought out other large families, because it’s hard to find people who understand when they have not lived it. I have a friend who has had a baby every year but one for the past 6. Her kids are all literally stair stacked. That’s more than I could ever bear.

The first years with my princesses were a bit of a blur. We calculated once and through a 4 year period of time I had been pregnant or nursing for all but about 7 months. It was intentional on our part. We so wanted children, Mark is one of those people who I feel was destined to be a father. He embraces it, well most days. Some days, he’s worn, just like me. It requires a great deal of emotional energy to be “on” 24/7 to five people.

Still, when it all boils down, it’s a good thing. As the girls are getting older things are becoming a bit easier. The girls are all in school this year, and now I’m helping one of my darling grandsons navigate his days.

What is a typical day like? Hmmm. Well to feed us all breakfast until we’re full requires a dozen eggs, a whole loaf of bread and 16 sausage patties. We go through at minimum a gallon of milk a day, often two. I searched high and low for a large chicken frying skillet so we could cook in the volume that’s required here. It’s amusing, and makes me happy that Mark does the majority of the work in the kitchen.

Laundry goes literally all day long. It is improving though, but when the girls were smaller and going through outfits as fast as I could change them, well it could really pile up.

Going to the movies is such a financial event for us, that movie tickets are now a preferred and requested gift every birthday and Christmas. We take up more than a whole row now. It’s fun though.

Some of the BEST things about living in a large family are:

o     There is always someone here to take care of you. If you need a hug, a boo boo bandaged, or someone to reach WAY up high on a shelf that you can’t manage…there is someone here.

o     There is always a potential joke in the air. My kids are bright and adept at finding the humor in life. I feel this is the best gift I can give them.

o     There is always a large bushel of unmatched socks that you can sit upon if all the couches are occupied.

o     There isn’t much time to dawdle with meal time, as in this family, if you don’t eat someone may well come and snatch your food.

There is great joy for me as a parent, when I can have really good days. The best days for me are when I beam at my children’s good manners and social skills.

Want to know my secret, my most treasured one?

Life does not revolve around children.

Period.

It’s not what we’re put here for. Kids need to fit into your life, not the other way around. I see such clear evidence of how our society is falling short as our parenting styles become more child centered. I could write a book, perhaps I will, but for now…the dryer has buzzed so I’m off.

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