I didn’t grow up in a big family. Just me and one sibling. We didn’t even have a dog. So life was pretty calm, easy, and predictable.
Then, to make a long story short(er): I became Orthodox, married someone who had also become Orthodox, and we started our family. We have been blessed with six amazing children. But, there are a few things that people never warned me about before we started our brood. Some I wish they had, and some, if they had I may have had second thoughts. But, overall, it’s been pretty awesome.
Here are some things that every potential mother of a big family should know.
1. Pregnancy is hard. That is a no brainer, even for those of us with just one or two children. The difference here is that it doesn’t get any easier the more times you do it. It’s kind of like you know how the game goes, but they keep changing the rules. Nausea, varicose veins, weight gain, hormone changes, which are all part of the pregnancy experience, are never quite the same experience twice. So, just when you think you have gotten past that first trimester scot-free with no nausea… boom. It hits. Unfortunately, few in utero babies have read the “What to Expect…” book.
The take away: Pregnancy at 24 is not like pregnancy at 40. Not. At. All.
2. Appreciate it while you can. After having one or two babies, you realize how precious those early stages of life are. Nothing should be taken for granted. Sweet baby’s breath, tiny toes and fingers, and, yes, even that cry in the middle of the night, are fleeting, so enjoy while it lasts. Having more children doesn’t make them less special; think of it as more precious stones in the jewelry of life.
The take away: Regardless of the number of children, and the number of diapers you may change, the shock of an exploding diaper still gets me. Every. Single. Time.
3. Sibling rivalry is real. I once read that when parents have two children, they are a referee; when there are three kids, then the parents are playing defense. How about six? Sometimes I feel like I am playing offense, defense, referee, umpire, judge, and jury all at the same time. And, I am still constantly amazed at the sibling combinations that actually get into the fights. Yes, I have actually told my oldest (late teens) to give back the toy the littlest (20 months) was playing with.
The take away: If you don’t want your kids to fight, get them separate houses. On different streets.
4. Food is a struggle. Kids need to eat. Every day. If they are teenage boys, then every hour. And, no one seems to like what anyone else likes. Not only that, but on the days you make chicken they will say they want lasagna. The day when you make lasagna, they want chicken. Before I never quite understood the need for Costco. Now I wonder why their jumbo packs are so small.
The take away: Sometimes it’s just better to serve cereal.
5. Laundry is endless. Think of how much laundry you create. Now add the amount your spouse creates. It’s probably about double, right? Well, add some kids into the mix, and the amount doesn’t increase systematically. Instead, I would say exponentially. I haven’t seen the bottom of a laundry basket in years. Every once in a while, I think I see a bit of pink plastic peek out between the shirts. And then I realize that it’s just my daughter’s pink socks. Oh well.
The take away: Matching socks for eight people is a part-time job. A poorly paid, not really satisfying job.
6. Bodily (ahem) functions abound. There are lots of things that happen in our house. Between two adults, six kids, two cats, two hamsters, and a tank full of fish, there is always something happening that shouldn’t.
The take away: Appreciate it when it’s just water or milk that spills on the floor.
7. Social structure is set. There is definitely a hierarchy in the house. Officially, my husband and I reign over all, but realistically, those who are loudest win the competition. Only, I am never really quite sure what the rules are, or what we’re even competing over.
The take away: It is truly amazing how loud some little people can be.
8. You can’t beat family. Yes, we are one family. A family that shares, cares, and, well, sometimes annoys each other. But, we are family. And, we are ours.
The take away: I wouldn’t give it up for anything.