We have what people call a “large family”.
When I met my husband, I certainly didn’t think “this man can give me a large family, he’s good breeding stock. Let me snatch him up right away!” I am positive he didn’t see the potential in me for carrying four pony-sized babies, but fate/ destiny/ unprotected sex has a way of changing all those things!
“Yaddi, yaddi, yadda” (for my fellow Seinfeld fans) – after 4 months of courtship, we were well on our way to being a family! It’s funny how life has a way of putting you on a path that you least expect, but once you stop and look around, you realize that you don’t belong anywhere else!
“The more, the merrier” they say. I say “the more, the louder, stinkier, messier, crazier, but also so much more filled with love, laughter and endless entertainment!”
So here we are, 12 years after meeting on a warm South Florida afternoon: four kids, two houses, four cars, one cat, one fish, and countless LEGO sets later.
Life couldn’t be better, but it could be more organized, less stressful and possibly a little less fart-infused. But when you are the mother of four boys… you take what you can get!
Before we embarked on this “large family” journey, I am proud to say that I was 100% CLUELESS as to the countless ways being outnumbered by our children would change our lives.
There are a lot of things other “large families” DON’T warn you about – and maybe with good reason. If you are considering having more than two kids, I highly recommend you read my 22 things you NEED to know about raising a large family.
You will learn something new!
22 things you NEED to know about raising a large family:
- Everyone has an opinion about the size of your family.
- By “everyone”, I mean EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING you meet.
- The guy in line at the post office, your OB/GYN (he’s normally thankful as your “action” allowed him to buy a new boat), your parents and your in-laws (but that’s a whole other post for a different day!) and of course the little lonely lady down the street.
- They have a hard time believing that some people may actually WANT a large family – and enjoy the chaos.
- The same people doubt that you know HOW the birds and the bees work.
- The people who comment on the size of your family, do so with the awkward undertone of “just how much sex do you people have?!”
- My husband says: “people look at me like I get laid ALL THE TIME! – to which I reply: “no they don’t, they see you are married and just think you have super sperm that worked all four times!”
- When you are out in public with your whole family, everyone you meet counts heads and then makes one of the following comments:
- “You sure have your hands full”
- “Just one more and you would have a whole (insert appropriate sport) team”
- “(Insert number of kids) boys? Oh boy!”
- “You need a hobby!”
- “You know how that happens, right?”
- … I have yet to hear a truly positive compliment about the size of our family.
- You are never alone – EVER.
- As a stay at home mom with four boys, I can truly say that I don’t remember last time I was BY MYSELF for longer than it takes me to pour a glass of wine and hide in the pantry to enjoy a few quiet sips.
- (One kid once brought me a slice of turkey, two slices of cheese and bread IN THE BATHROOM – so I could make him a sandwich WHILE I was on the toilet! – like I said, NEVER alone!)
- You get lonely after several days without adult interaction.
- Lonely – but NEVER alone (see # 4!)! When you have a large family, friends assume you are too busy to get together, so they leave you alone.
- It’s normally only other large-family moms who reach out – so you together can combat the never-alone-loneliness.
- You always need milk and bread.
- There is never enough food in the house – EVER!
- The most maddening part, your picky eaters have three foods they like, and they are never the same three foods!
- You are never done with the laundry.
- With four boys, two loads of laundry a day isn’t enough to stay afloat, especially not when they happen to wet their beds at the same time!
- Getting one-on-one time with the kids is nearly impossible, unless they follow you into the bathroom to talk (or make a sandwich, see # 4) while you are doing your business.
- But, quality time is quality time – regardless of the surroundings, right?!
- Make friends with your elementary school staff and your pediatrician.
- They will be in your life for A LONG TIME.
- Give your kids the same initials so you can hand-down monogrammed clothes and backpacks.
- Our kids share the same first initial, which saves me greatly when I buy labels for their things: first initial and last name! BINGO!
- It’s just a matter of time before you are the proud owner of a mini-van… or worse yet – a conversion van!
- I must admit, I love my mini-van… OK so it screams to the outside world “move aside, hot mess mom with goldfish-cracks in her purse and snot stains on her yoga pants approaching” – but there’s no shame in my motherhood-game, so I rock it: snot-stains and all!
- Your bed resembles a clown car more than a place for restorative rest. We have over the past 11 years slept “alone”, just the two of us, probably a total of 13… hours! Our bed is a revolving door of mama’s boys, scared preschoolers and sick school-aged kids.
- Between pregnancies and breastfeeding, your body belongs to someone else for the better part of a decade… or more.
- Over the past 12 years, since I met my husband, I have spent 10 5/6 years either pregnant and/ or breastfeeding. That’s a LONG time to have your body belong to a small dictator who decides what you eat, when you eat and how much you should eat!
- “The baby made me do it” becomes your standard excuse when all the cookies mysteriously disappear.
- Coffee is not a luxury. It is a life-giving necessity.
- I have even considered adding our Starbucks expenses to our taxes as medical expenses.
- Don’t expect to be invited to birthday parties as a family.
- No one wants ONE family to dominate the guest list. It’s true… they don’t… so you and your kids just don’t get invited – but that’s OK… you have enough entertainment under your roof – and it just means fewer goodie bags to throw away.
- Christmas, birthdays, back-to-school and family vacations alone will send you to the poor-house.
- Every year, we go into fall thinking we are in great financial shape, only to emerge on the other side of New Year’s, feeling beaten down by the constant list of expenses.
- Our four kids were born between September and January, which was poor financial planning on our part.
- Don’t bother buying baby books, you will never complete them.
- They serve as constant reminders of all the things you haven’t done. Instead take lots of pictures and enjoy your family – the craziness doesn’t last forever, so I hear.
- There is always someone crying, hungry or thirsty – around the clock. The saying “you can’t please everyone” is true!
- When you find a babysitter who doesn’t run screaming out of the door, pay her WHATEVER she wants
- – even if you have to take an early retirement distribution. She is worth every penny.
- Sharing isn’t just a nice gesture, but it’s a financially necessity.
- No family needs 4 of every.single.toy on the market.
- When you find a restaurant with a table large enough for your family and a hotel with rooms large enough, go there – and go there often.
- Life is too short for cramming into a small booth or sharing a postage-stamp size hotel room.
- You are the MOST LOVED PARENT in the world.
- The more kids you have, the higher the chances are of you always having a child who isn’t annoyed by you, who doesn’t think you don’t know anything and who loves you – it’s a pure numbers game!
- Perhaps one will even dedicate his NFL-draft acceptance speech to his spunky mom and athletic dad! – It could happen!
If you are on the fence about having a large family, I say: if you want to have your patience tested to the brink of insanity, have your waist line wax and wane like the moon for the better part of a decade and spend the rest of your life feeling your heart burst at the seams with pride and love – then go for it!