If Four Children Is Considered Large…
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For some reason, this realization struck me as symbolic. Our family has moved beyond what is considered "normal" or, heck, even convenient in terms of size. I do believe that when people see a swarm of four young children coming at them in the grocery store or a restaurant, they immediately recoil a little.
I'm actually looking forward to having four kids.
It's not what you think
I realize that the term "large family" is very subjective — my husband and I actually come from families of four children each, so to us, four kids doesn't seem as entirely crazy. (Although ask me that in three months, when all four of them are up crying!) To some, four seems unmanageable and out of control; to others four might even be considered on the smaller side.
But in today's world, when the average U.S. woman has a fertility rate of 2.1 children, it would appear I am outside the norm. I am 28 years old and I will have a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn by summer's end.
Is that your jaw dropping in disbelief?
Allow me to assure you that I am not some kind of crazy women intent on replicating the Duggar's. I'm a woman who actually doesn't love everything that comes hand-in-hand with raising children; an introvert who loves to recharge with alone time and reading; a professional who loves to work and provide for my family; a failed crafter and a mindless Pinterest pinner. In short, I'm a normal, average woman... who just happens to be pregnant year after year.
Why do I do it?
Well, that's a very good question. In full disclosure, our first daughter was an unexpected (and wonderful) surprise who happened to come along a little earlier than we had planned. And knowing we wanted siblings close in age, we planned for our next two children to be born about two years apart. Siblings = fun, at least in our minds. (And hopefully it works out well for them, too.) And this baby? Well, this baby just happened to be a little extra bonus.
There are days, of course, that I spend wondering what on earth we have gotten ourselves into. There are nights that I sleep alone in our bed and ponder if our marriage can survive the stress of these little-people years. There are moments when I just want to run and bury my head under my comforter, ostrich-style and sleep the day away.
But I keep going. Because I do believe what we are creating here is important.
There are broken families, traditional families, non-traditional families and blended families, but I fully believe that when it comes right down to it, our family is our "home base." It's where we learn our values and traditions and where we have room to grow, learn, play and think. And while I am able, I want to provide that for my children. I think it's so important to bring these beings into the world in a place of love and security that only we can provide. We can't protect them from everything, we can't guarantee that they will have an easy time of it here and we certainly can't ensure that everything is hunky-dory all the time, but we can guarantee one thing:
That they will be loved.
And in having a "large" family, I do believe that the love is multiplied and that we all learn lessons and grow together in ways that we may not have otherwise. I learned some ugly truths about myself — my selfishness, what my true passions are in life and how much sleep I need to miss before I dissolve into a shriveled, angry mess — and sometimes, I wonder if my children are the true vessels of wisdom in this household.
I imagine our family down the road with a full and overwhelming table set for a holiday dinner, and I can't help but think that creating a life overflowing with love and laughter is never a mistake.
Even if we can't fit into a restaurant booth.