Yes. I have eight children. Not one, not two, not three, not even four. Eight of them. Yes, they are all mine. Yes, my husband and I are aware of what caused those eight children to come into this world. And yes, we do both have a full time job, a part time job, and our children all participated in quite a few extra curricular activities. No, we did not have a nanny. However, this shouldn’t be any of your concern. We were and still are aware of the decisions we were making. But people will continue to ask us why we had so many and I will continue to tell them I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Now mind you, I know a lot of families with 6, 10, 12, and even 15 children. One of my daughter’s first boyfriends had 12 siblings. She didn’t date him long enough to even meet them all. I never thought of myself as any big deal. I never thought of myself as some kind of supermom. I just did what I had to and I loved every second of it.
If you are wondering what it’s like to have more than 1, 2 or 3 kids, I’m happy to share the ups and downs.
I find myself reading stories online about embracing motherhood and women who are learning to balance a career and children at the same time. I read about the successes and the failures. I read about needing to support each other and yet I find that when I’m out somewhere with my children usually I’m stopped and in a rude tone am asked “Why do you have so many?!” Sometimes it’s men asking me but most of the time it’s women. This always catches me off guard. I’ve always responded that God was very good to me. I have always told my kids that I could have been rich in money or rich in family and because I am rich in family I am the wealthiest woman in the world.
You’d never believe me if I told you that after my first baby, I said I never wanted to do that again. I was miserable, suffering from postpartum depression. But 8 months later, I was pregnant with number 2! Then 7 months later after him, number 3 was on her way. And thus it went, 6 kids in 7 years and then 2 more during the next 6 years. 8 beauties in 14 years.
I was on a roll – diapers, feedings, laundry, cooking, cleaning, driving, playing, sports, church. It was a glorious time in my life. I was exhausted but happy. I cried and raged, but I laughed and rejoiced in their antics. They fought, but then were the best of friends. When they said they were bored, I retorted with, “you can’t be, I gave you plenty of friends to play with.” From 1988-2003, I was pregnant and running after toddlers at the same time. I look back now and think how did I do that?! With God’s grace (and plenty of caffeine) is how I did that; one sweet, anxious, tired, tear-filled, ecstatic moment at a time.
Big families were not foreign to me. Both my husband and I are one of seven. Growing up with 4 brothers and 2 sisters was wonderful. I loved bragging about us all. But even then, we were surrounded by lots of big families. It’s just how it was. We had friends everywhere we went. It wasn’t always smooth sailing but overall we wouldn’t be without each other. We get together monthly now just because we can and we feel we need to keep those connections. And our children are best friends with each other. The joy of cousins is almost unexplainable. We’ve had multiple family reunions in my life, both on my mom’s side and my dad’s side. How we longed for those summers when they rolled around. To be with over 60 cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. FUN, FUN, FUN. I cried every time we had to leave. I wanted that life for my kids. I wanted to give them what I had. Yes, it’s hard, emotionally, physically, financially. But it’s so worth it!!
I can remember days when I thought to myself “I’m not going to survive the week”. When I was pregnant with my youngest I remember screaming at my children that they were going to kill the baby inside of me because of how tired and stressed out they had made me feel. Have you ever said something out loud that you instantly regretted? And your child looks at you with those eyes, you know the ones I’m referring too, the eyes that are begging for forgiveness because they have no idea what they’ve done wrong. Well I had seven pairs of those eyes staring back at me after I said that. It’s not easy raising one child. It’s not easy raising two. And in that moment I looked at my seven children with one on the way and I thought to myself, what have I done? How will I make it through? My heart has broken a million times and has been put back together a million times more by my children.
I’ve cried and worried over my sick baby in the hospital especially when I thought we were going to lose him. I’ve been angry as all get out when I got a call at one in the morning from the police because my little darling was out misbehaving. I’ve screamed and yelled when chores weren’t done and slammed my door to make a point. But more than that, I’ve cried over beautiful music being performed by my children, rejoiced in a winning soccer goal or basketball shot or pin on the mat, or a C on a report card where once there was an F. And better still are all the days in between the highs and lows when we’re home watching a movie together. I long for the days when I’m reading in the living room while some of my kids are in the family room dancing to music, one is putting a puzzle together on the dining room table, my oldest boy up in his room yelling at his siblings to “turn that crappy music down,” and another is outside mowing the lawn. Those are the priceless moments of quiet joy and peace. Those days that weave in and out, week by week, month by month, year by year. Anyone who questions why I would do this to myself has never experienced the overwhelming sense of calm that comes with the chaos.
But most of all, I will never be alone. Even as I’m reaching middle and late age (I’m 51), I am so grateful that I have so many to help me. What peace that brings. Just as the 7 of my siblings are taking care of my mom, so too, my children will be there for me and my husband. Parenthood is such a beautiful gift and we should support all those who take on the challenge, whether they take it on with only one child or with twelve children, we all need to feel that support.