My belly is large enough now that when I am out and about people will ask with a sweet smile “Is this your first?” When I tell them this will be our fifth baby they always look so shocked and have to pick their jaw up off the ground. I don’t know if the reaction is due to the fact that people say I look younger than I am or just because it is not as common to have a large family these days. However, I cannot entirely blame them because I felt a little shell shocked myself the first few times I heard myself say the number out loud. 5 – truly a handful!
The next question is always “How do you do it?” My answer is always the same, you just do it. Through tired eyes, piles of clothes and dirty dishes, you just do it, because these little people, this husband, this family we have created brings more joy and fun, than hard and messy. You let go a little more with each baby that comes along. You care a little less about the small stuff and a little more about the big stuff. We lean into eachother, my hubby and I, because not many people get “it”, this life we have chosen. People can’t understand why we would choose all the noise and the mess and the craziness.
I am one of 8, my husband is one of 5. We came from “spicy” families so this chaos is nothing new to us but there is also great comfort and joy in sibling relationships. These people that, whether you always got along or not, know where you come from and what life was like in a way that you can’t explain. They are there to share the burdens of sibling and parent dynamics and laugh and reminisce with. We wanted our kids to have siblings to talk to and giggle with when they are supposed to be going to sleep. We wanted them to have someone to commiserate with about how uncool their poor parents are. Aside from that, we enjoy them! They make us laugh, they challenge us, and they are fun!
Parenting is also hard, the hardest thing I have ever done for sure! It is non stop, it is emotionally draining and it is physically exhausting. So, I think what people mean is “When it is all too much and you begin to wonder what you were thinking having all those kids, what do you do?”
I usually do one of the following:
1. Pull out the baby pics. Looking at that sweet innocent newborn compared to your rowdy big kid will remind you just how quickly time flies and how precious these childhood days really are.
2. Hide in the shower. There is not often a day that a long hot shower and maybe a good cry won’t fix.
3. Do something for myself. If you are overwhelmed, it is time to get out. Meet up with girlfriends, go shopping alone or do anything that you love that there is usually no time for. Sometimes this means just going to bed. The day may have been a bust, but we get to start over tomorrow.
4. Remember the big picture. They will not always be in diapers, even if it may seem that way. They will not always make a mess of your house and when they are gone you will miss them and their mess.
5. Family fun day. Doing things together builds our relationships and lets us laugh together and recharge. Some of our favorites are a trip to a restaurant, picnic at the park, or making ice cream sundaes! (Yes, these all revolve around food. Know your family’s currency!) Non food trips might be going to the zoo, a walk in the woods or playing games together.
So for the record: Yes, We chose to have a big family! We love it! It is not easy! We do not have it all figured out! And yes, you can babysit anytime!