Love Is Louder (And Our House Is Full)
I bought this necklace from infinite purpose jewelry a few years ago. I love it. At the time, with only the three boys in our lives, it summed up how I felt about our family. "We love loud" is something I've heard myself say many times and we do -- some days louder than others.
With the addition of our Miss Vee earlier this year, the volume of love in our house has hit fever pitch.
As she inches closer to her first birthday, and the end of her "baby" stage, I have been thinking a lot about what I love most about my big family. As long as I can remember, I wanted to have a lot of kids. I wanted chaotic Christmas mornings, boisterous Thanksgiving dinners, crazy camping trips, and to see them pile like a tumble of puppies onto our bed for stories at night.
I wanted my children to have that amazing type of connection I only see in larger families.
I wanted my children to have that amazing type of connection I only see in larger families. Ending things off with four kids, we have achieved that and more. Yes, our lives can be busy, but it is the best kind of busy I can imagine.
We started with Boy#1 in 2002, and with the addition of each next child, my ability to roll with change has improved. I am better able to glean what is important and let the rest go. Instead of having less time for myself and sacrificing self care, I have become more diligent about carving out space for me in our busy lives - personal time is important and having my time in such high demand makes every moment to myself that much more precious and enjoyed. I am more generous with compassion, and I am more understanding of struggle. Watching my kids pick themselves up after a disappointment and try again makes me try harder to do the same.
Selfishly, more children has made me a better person.
As we were lying in bed last night with our 9 month old tucked in between us, I commented to my husband that it always seems a shame to me that just as people get good at this whole baby and parenting thing, they stop having children.
With four kids, he and I have finally found our sea legs.
This shouldn't imply that it is all smooth sailing. Children fight, certain personalities clash and I wonder how far into adulthood it might take them to find each other (but I have faith that they will), and things can get forgotten and overlooked in busy lives. Some days I want to pull my hair out. Other days I thank god for Google calendar. This is all balanced out by us supporting each other, cheering our successes, comforting us in our losses, and enjoying each others' company.
A bigger family means more hands to catch you when you fall...
A bigger family means more hands to catch you when you fall and more hands to help you get back up again. It means more love, more people to remember the stories and family lore that connect us all, more people who have your back.
I love my children fiercely -- my love for them is a wild thing.
I love my children fiercely -- my love for them is a wild thing. It has grown as our family has grown. It cannot be tamed or caged. It is unconditional and expansive. It is given to them freely and will never be taken away. It is theirs. The strength of it takes my breath away.
More children has made me a better parent.
Instead of being caught up with the minutiae, I have no choice but to look at the larger picture.
We don't have the time to pick over all the finer details. We raise our children to advocate for themselves, whether that is telling the barber how they want their hair cut or negotiating cycling to school -- this will help them grow into stronger, more capable adults. The older boys do their own laundry and make their own school lunches, they help with the dishes, garbage, and recycling -- they still need reminders but the tasks are their own, as are the consequences of doing or not doing them. The older two, at 12 and 13, are incredibly independent and self-sufficient.
Younger siblings mean daily practice in compassion and nurturing -- this will make them better men.
A bigger family means there is always a pair of arms to console a crying baby or an extra set of hands to help a 5 year old with a tricky zipper. A bigger family means the 9 month old knows people other than Mom can comfort her, and means the 5 year old has four teachers instead of two when he is learning new skills. A bigger family means more helping hands preparing meals, doing yard work, helping with grocery shopping and running errands.
The only downsides to having a larger family are space and the endless laundry.
The only downsides to a larger family are physical space -- we are feeling a little cramped in our tiny ~1000 sq ft house -- and never-ending laundry. Increasing the size of our house, finishing a massive purge of belongings, and rejigging sleeping arrangements are in our near future. And laundry? Let's just say 6 people go through a lot of towels and bedsheets, and then there is the clothing, the cloth diapers...
And in our more distant future, I like to imagine crowded Christmases, big extended family meals, and lots of grandbabies.