My sophomore year, I walked into my English class, plopped my books on a desk, and took a seat. I was feeling more confident than I had as a scared freshman, so my first day of school was already off to a better start.
I was wearing my “no strike” t-shirt to display my annoyance at the Major League Baseball strike happening at the time. When I looked over, I noticed the guy sitting next to me wearing a similar shirt. Obviously, I had to strike up a conversation.
I thought he was a cool guy. Clearly he had good taste if he loved the best sport ever created as much as I did. He liked the fact that I could quote baseball stats like any guy in the class.
Little did I know, that friendship would later develop into a relationship. That would eventually lead to a marriage and five kids. And it began our big family story.
Our Big Family Story
I can’t say when exactly I decided that I wanted a big family. Maybe I always assumed I would have one. I come from a family of five kids. Even though I’m the oldest, I don’t remember a time when our house was quiet. We were always thundering through, and usually somebody had a friend or two over to add to the chaos.
To me, small families were very different. While I envied some of the “stuff” that my friends had, most of the time I thought their houses were eerily quiet.
Later, when I told my (then) boyfriend that I wanted to have a big family, he laughed. But he didn’t run away! 😉 And I couldn’t help noticing how much he enjoyed hanging out with my brothers. They were always playing a video game, shooting hoops, or setting up a homerun derby competition in the yard.
There is a lot of fun to be had when you always have a sibling to hang out with.
Married With Children
When we learned that I was pregnant with our first child, we were over the moon. Soon after, we decided that a dank apartment in a rough part of town was no place to raise a baby, so we found a cute little house to buy instead. The house was only 872 square feet, but luckily it also came with a small price tag.
The day our baby was born was the most proud day of our lives. We were fascinated by his little features. Hubby told me he was perfect and we couldn’t do any better.
But sixteen months later, we had baby number two. He was also beautiful, but the instant he was born we knew he had a personality all his own. I’d never heard such a loud cry from such a small baby!
Guys, I’ve never had twins or multiple babies at once, so I would never compare our situation to that. But I will say that no part of parenting (so far) has been tougher than trying to raise babies only 16 months apart. Most nights I’d hold both crying babies and would cry along with them.
Our second born had colic, and all I could do was sit in the rocking chair and rock with all my might while I watched a brand new show called Dancing With the Stars on TV. (It was nice, because I didn’t have to hear it to be able to enjoy it!)
Time for Ch-ch-Changes
Baby number three came in the summer time. We decided that it was time I quit my teaching job to become a stay at home mom.
The day that little guy turned one, we moved into a bigger home. It might be small to some, but compared to the home we came from, it felt like living in a palace!
Baby Number Four
Being pregnant with our fourth born was a whole new experience. I didn’t have to work, so I could nap when the baby was napping.
I am terrible at being pregnant! It’s very hard on my body. I’m always exhausted, and keeping up with housework is difficult. So why do I keep having babies? Because pregnancy is only for 9 months, while a baby is someone to love forever. All of that sleep deprivation is worth it, I promise!
Having that fourth baby was a new experience. I finally felt like I knew what I was doing. While getting used to raising another baby is always a little intimidating, I knew I’d adjust.
Surprisingly, I’ve talked to many other moms that feel the same way. You might think four kids is overwhelming or “too much”. But after three babies, you’ve seen enough variety in personalities and situations that you have a deep bag of tricks to use. You start to feel like you know what you’re doing!
The one thing that threw me for a loop was that after three boys, this one was a girl. I was totally baffled by tights and Barbie dolls, but luckily I had a sister and sisters-in-law to walk me through it!
Our fifth baby was something else. I had been reading The Money Saving Mom’s Budget book. She always talks about reaching your goals and dreams, and in the book she asked what we’d want most at the end of our lives. I knew I wanted my family more than anything else.
Hubby and I talked it over for a while, and we were both excited to learn that we were expecting again. His birth was a little harder on me than the others were, but we managed to get through just fine.
What’s It Like to Have Five Kids?
Having five kids isn’t a walk in the park. I won’t tell you that it’s always easy or fun. That’s just life! But that doesn’t mean our life is hard or terrible.
There’s a 10 year difference between our oldest child and our youngest. Right now we’re learning how to parent a teen while our youngest is crossing from a toddler into a preschooler. We have elementary aged children and middle schoolers, plus the little guy is still at home.
It can be a challenge to juggle the needs of all the kids at their various stages of life. Their different personalities require us to parent them individually (of course). But the same is true of having one child. Every year they grow and change, and you have to learn to adjust.
Having five kids isn’t like having quintuplets. All of our kids are at different stages. My 13 year old can brush his teeth, pack his own lunch, and do his own basic care. What he needs from me is reminders and emotional support.
My 3 year old needs more physical help and I spend more time teaching him how to care for himself.
The other kids lie along the plane between those two. It’s important to me that I work myself out of a job. I’ll always give them love and support when they need it. But I don’t have to make myself a “mommy martyr”. I let go of things that I don’t have to do. Some things aren’t important enough to worry about all the time. Others are things my kids are totally capable of doing for themselves.
If your kids are spending two hours playing video games, they can take ten minutes to pack their own lunch, do a load of laundry, or help clean up some of the mess they make. Moms love to feel needed, but keep in mind that you want your child to be able to care for himself one day!
It’s Not All Work
Having five kids also means that we can have big games of basketball, tag, and hide and seek. We don’t have to hope there’s another family to play with when we stop at a park.
Most importantly, it means having family to lean on. As an adult, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve leaned on my brothers or sister for so many things. I’m happy to provide that lifelong support to my own children.
Why We Love Having a Big Family
There are so many reasons that we love our big family. Read about some of those reasons here.
That’s our big family story.
Life isn’t always rosy, but it’s a lot of fun to live in a big family!
I’d love to hear about your big family, too! Share in the comments.