Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Having 5 Kids Means

When I was a little girl, I always said I wanted to have 6 kids when I was a mommy. Why 6? I don't know. Maybe because my favorite number is 6. But I was sure I wanted a big family, of that much I knew.

Now, all these years later, I've almost fulfilled that number - We have 5 children. Every day I look at them and I'm amazed by who they are. From the baby, who's only 15 months old, all the way up to my princess Peppermint Patty, who's 11 and a half. Where does the time go? How did she get so old? How did *I* get so old?

Here are my kids' ages: 11, 9, 8, 3, and 1. When people see us all together, we get comments like, "Wow you sure have your hands full" or "You're brave to have all those children out at once!" Sometimes it's not so much a choice as much as it is a desire to do things together as a family.

Having 5 kids isn't always easy, but it can be good too. Every day throws something different at me.

Having 5 kids means that our grocery bill keeps growing and growing and I don't understand why the budget doesn't stretch as far as it should. And where does all the food go? Why are they hungry ALL. THE. TIME?

It means that after I get the minivan sparkling clean, inside and out, it will be a huge mess of dirty shoeprints and goldfish cracker crumbs one nanosecond after my children sit in their seats. It means no car for me, other than a minivan, in the near or distant future. Carpooling is impossible because we are our very own carpool.

It means that we can't really take an affordable family vacation. 2 hotel rooms are a minimum. Even if the baby sits on our lap, buying 6 plane tickets anywhere is a budget-buster. And have you ever rode in a car with a young toddler for more than 30 minutes? If not, you should try it. It's a great form of birth control. Tickets for admission to parks, equipment rental for skiing or boating, etc. It's just... a LOT. It means either making our vacation shorter or simply doing less. Neither choice seems like a choice at all.

Having 5 kids means that we have the avalanche of school papers, x5. Five requests to be on the PTA. Five book order forms. Five sets of homework to go over. And when the day comes for college, having 5 kids will mean that they each have a little less from us and need to rely on loans a little more. That part makes me nervous.

Having 5 kids means that downsizing to a smaller house isn't an option. 4 bedrooms is a minimum, and that's with kids sharing rooms. No office for us. No playroom. Having a larger house would be awesome, but where are the listings for affordable 6 or 7 bedroom houses? I think that's next to impossible.

Having 5 kids means that our kids GET to share bedrooms with each other. They get to learn from experience how to share and how to get along with another person, even when the don't really want to. They don't get much of a choice because everywhere they turn in our house, there are more people!

Having 5 kids means that I get to keep reliving the joy of a child's discovery. Whether it's the first time they blow soap bubbles or the first time they read a book or the first time they lose a tooth or the first time they ride a bike without training wheels. I get to see that flash of amazement in their eyes every time. And then again, and again, and again, and again.

Having 5 kids means I get to make up for some of the mistakes I made with my older kids. I get to experience all the seasons of motherhood while I'm still being a mother. I've had the opportunity to look back with hindsight on what I did as a nervous new mom, and reflect on it, and let it teach me about how I'm going to raise the one who's still a baby yet. I wish I could say I was a great mom to all my kids equally, but I know I've done better with some than others. But I was the best mom I could be, at that time, that's what my children needed.

Having 5 kids means I'm giving my children a gift no one else can give them: the gift of siblings. Besides just having siblings, they have friends. We are very intentional about spending time together as a family and making it a priority, more than extracurriculars or bedtimes or money. Spending time together grows a family and builds memories. I can't think of a more important thing to give our children than a stable place to call their own, and in this place they have 6 other people to love them and support them.

Having 5 kids is a challenge and a blessing. It's a wild ride, that's for sure!

Texan Mama


Bear and Bones Mama said...

Hi G - Love this post. I have two boys and would love to have more more more! But we've stopped. I started late. I'm freaking tired.

But oh to have a baby again.

The questions remains....will you have another to make your childhood dream come true?


nicole said...

You said all that I would say! I always tell people that having a lot of kids is not all that different than a couple of kids, you just multiply things. ;) We take it one day at a time, with good days and bad days, like all families. I love my crazy big family, even when I feel like my head might explode from all the noise and all the stuff in one house (and only three bedrooms!).

Bridgett said...

I wanted 5 so badly. Mike and I are both from families of 4 kids and loved the idea of having our kids grow up with lots of siblings. All the things you learn. Alas, probably not meant to be with my pregnancies and births being what they are. But the door is open. Who knows who will come in.

Michelle Saunderson said...

Great post! I can really tell how much you like being a mom. Your kids are lucky to have a dedicated mom like you.

Jen said...

This post makes me heart swoon. :)

The Little Blog about kids... said...

Great post! I have 4 children so I completely understand :)

Prairie Mother said...

Great post! I'm the oldest of 7 (span of 14 years) and although I'm not brave enough to have that many kids, I wouldn't trade my childhood for the world. My siblings are my best friends! We only took vacations if we could drive there and camp. Older kids always took care of the little ones. Money was always tight. That was my childhood and it was awesome!! Hoorah for you! Your kids will love you for their siblings.

misssrobin said...

I think many of us grew up wanting six kids because that's how many there were on the Brady Bunch. It just seemed right.

Having five kids close together is something I've never regretted. My oldest was 7 1/2 when my fifth was born. They are so close and such good friends. I wouldn't trade a minute of it. Okay, maybe some minutes (the fighting and noisy ones), but that's a fair trade for all that we get out of it.

And you think groceries are expensive now. Wait until they are teens. Ugh!

Jennifer said...

I think it is great that you've built a large, tight knit family for your kids. I can admire that. But I could never do it. Just my two drive me nuts.

Anna See said...

Awesome! I wish I had 5. :)

Gigi said...

I always wished for many siblings when I was young and even had dreams of having several boys of my own. But life works out in its own way. Your children are blessed in so many ways.

Jennifer said...

This is beautifully written! I cannot imagine what you do on a daily basis... once Zoe started preschool and I saw the mountain of paperwork TWO kids bring home, I was overwhelmed. I can't imagine more! I also cannot imagine having to feed all of them... again... my TWO seem to be asking for something to eat all the time!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Even though I grew up with, and married into a large family- I sometimes feel like my desire to have a large family will never be met because of all the challenges your noted here. Reading your side of it makes it seem so worth it. Helps me to know that the benefit of having a large family out weighs the cost. So, thank you for reassuring me (even if you didn't know it). :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Even though I grew up with, and married into a large family- I sometimes feel like my desire to have a large family will never be met because of all the challenges your noted here. Reading your side of it makes it seem so worth it. Helps me to know that the benefit of having a large family out weighs the cost. So, thank you for reassuring me (even if you didn't know it). :)

Kacie said...

I have to plant a vacation idea for you - Tyler Texas, Pine Cove Camps. They have some sort of stellar drop-in deal for pastors and their families. Give them a call!

Crystal said...

Yay!!! I love this post. Ok I only have 4 so ya got me on that one. BUt I can relate on all of the points you brought up. Cost and space aside...I LOVE my big family. I would have at least 2 more if hubby would go for it. I love that there will always be somebody for my kids to talk to, always a "partner in crime", always someone to help out. Money, things, vacations, bigger homes...they are all great, but my little family of 6 sure knows how to love...because money doesn't buy love!

Leslie Limon said...

I have 4 kids, so you really spoke to my heart with this beautiful post.