We are a family of seven, which seems small when you compare us to someone like the Duggars. However, I grew up as an only child so my family seems large to me. I remember that when my husband and I got married we always said we wanted five kids. We both thought that was the perfect number. Annie came along and we still thought five was a good number. Megan came along and we started thinking that two was fine. :) Needless to say, Megan was a bit of challenge as a baby/toddler. All of my children are two years apart with the exception of Megan and Lily. It took me an extra year to convince myself that another child was a good idea. :)
I can remember growing up as an only child. I admit that there are perks to being an only child. Yes, I did get all the attention and I was spoiled. I never had to share my room or my things. My parents were always available to attend whatever school/sporting event that I was participating in. I was fotunate enough to be able to travel a great deal with my parents. I could go on, however, there was one MAJOR thing about being an only child that could never be fixed. Loneliness. The life of an only child can be very lonely.
I watched my friends bicker and fight with their siblings and inside I was jealous. I wanted soemone to get into my things and pick on me! I always sat at a table full of adults for every holiday meal. The one exception was when my cousins were able to attend Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house. I lived for those Thanksgivings! A few of my friends had more than one brother or sister and I always loved the chaos in their homes when I was a visitor. So, even at a young age I knew that I would try to have at least two children.
Fast forwad many years and I have five children! Life in our house is crazy! There is always noise. There is always a mess. Someone is almost always fighting or whining. There are too many toys. I have a basement full of clothes of all sizes and genders. We hardly ever eat out because it's too expensive and too nuts. Our children don't get the chance to participate in tons of extra activities. Five pregnancies have certainly taken away my slim figure.
None of it matters though. I love my crazy life! :) It's what I always wanted. My children are never without a playmate. It is rare to feel lonely. There is always someone who is up for a game of Tag or Candy Land. Our holidays are hectic but so much fun. Going to the simplest places (grocery store, park, mall) is always an adventure. If you ask my kids, they will tell you that they like having lots of siblings.
Are there times when one child wants some one on one time and I am unable to provide it? Yes. Are there times when one child voices that they wish they were an only child so that their special treasures wouldn't be messed with? Yes. Are there times when one child balks at wearing hand-me-downs? Yes. Are there times when one child wants to have their own room and their own space? Yes. Would my children trade the life they have for any of those things? No.
My husband and I are fully aware of the challenges that having a larger family brings. We keep an open door policy in order for our kids to talk to us about how they are feeling at any given moment. I think, because of that, our kids never feel like they are cheated out of Mom or Dad because of their siblings. I can remember many times closing the door to my bedroom in order to have a discussion with one child who needed to talk to me. I run errands on Saturday mornings and always take a different child with me each week. I use that time to connect with that child and find out about what is going on in their life. My kids love this! I have also been known to crawl into bed with each of my children for 15min. at night and listen to them chatter about their hopes and dreams or their favorite book. Yes, I have five children but I know each of them very well. I know their individual quirks that make them unique.
I know that having five children is not for everyone. I have friends that have one child and it's perfect for them. I have friends that have eight or nine children and that is perfect for them. Family size is such a personal decision and that's why I cringe when someone makes a heartless comment about our family size. For the record, I do know what causes all these kids! I also know that birth control is available and I am aware of how it works. I am not trying to become the Duggars and I am not interested in being on TLC or any other network for any reason. Yes, we are Christians but that is not the reason for our family size. No, we do not receive public assistance....my husband has a good job. I know that our carbon footprint is larger than many others....we try to conserve in other ways. Yes, we homeschool but I don't consider us odd or unsocialized....just ask any of our many friends.
The two questions I get asked most often: "Are all of these kids your's?" and "Are you planning to have anymore kids?". I always answer "yes" to the first one and I am currently answering "no" to the second one. :)