Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pros and Cons

Having a big family comes with its ups and downs. There are good times and bad times in every family, but it seems that those swings are magnified when there are more people involved.

The pros are easy to see. We have a lot of love. We laugh all the time. Someone is always hitting a milestone. There is usually something to look forward to. And there is always, always something to do to keep us busy. Seeing the kids grow and develop their own relationships is amazing. The older three are fiercely protective of AJ, sometimes a little too much so. Ally asks Aidan to read her a story and tuck her in. The girls spent an hour yesterday building a village out of blocks, playing together in their fantasy world. The fantasy world where boys are not allowed, and all characters must speak in super high pitched voices.

The kids drive each other crazy quite often, on a daily basis right now since it is summertime. But even as they drive each other batty, they miss one another desperately when they are apart. Horseplay takes on a whole new meaning when there are more than a couple kids involved. The wrestling matches in our family room could rival the WWE.

There are many positives to having a large family, for sure. But there are also some challenges. I have learned to resign myself to the fact that it's highly unlikely that my entire house will ever be clean at the same time. I can clean one room, certainly. But as I do so, another room is simultaneously being dirtied. It's just life. It takes some getting used to, but I'm working on it. I have learned to sweep the floor as needed, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. But I have learned not to bother mopping it until after the kids have gone to bed for the night. At least that way, it will have at least 8 solid hours of cleanliness. I have learned that laundry is something meant to be done daily. And that if I take a day off from the laundry, it multiplies at night when I am sleeping.

We go through a lot of food, which is only going to get worse as the kids get older. Feeding a small herd of children is not cheap, and the grocery bills are not for the faint of heart. I've learned to economize, to cook from scratch as much as possible, to use coupons whenever I can. We will, at some point, have no choice but to get a larger water heater. Aidan can use most of a tank as it is now, and he's nowhere near puberty. Our vehicle choices are limited these days. We can only use a car that fits 6, ideally more in case we have a carpool to contend with.

One of the most annoying downsides of having more than two children is that it apparently gives every rude person in the universe free license to make comments about us. I have learned that I don't really care what other people think about me, my children or my parenting. I'm doing the best I can, and for the most part, I think I am doing a pretty darn good job. Don't ask me why I have so many kids. It's none of your business. Don't ask if they are all mine. Clearly, the children are from the same genetic stock. Don't express shock at the fact that they can all behave in public. They are children, not wild animals.

As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to having a large family. But I'm certain that the pros will always outweigh the cons. The good times will always make the bad ones worth enduring. And the love we have will always be more important than the sacrifices we may make.

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