I often get asked this question as I’m fighting my way through grocery store aisles with kids hanging on to every side of the cart. The snide retort that immediately pops into my head is usually, “What kind of a crazy woman would collect random neighborhood children and take them all shopping?” But then I realize that such an action, being only a temporary situation, is actually less insane than assuming life-long responsibility for a brood of kids. And then I realize that, on more than one occasion, I have gone out in public with extra children. What’s one or two or three more, anyway?
So instead, I just smile broadly and say, “Yes, they are!”
We’re no Brady Bunch, no blended family. My husband and I married in 1995. Our children started coming in 1998 at the rate of about one every other year. The smallest gap is 18 months between Billy and Katie, and the largest space is between Peter and Mary – 27 months.
Better you than me.
I wouldn’t argue this comment with anyone. I love my kids. I love that they are close in age and can enjoy each other’s company. I love the constant dynamic state that defines my household – like a beehive which is always swarming and never still. Don’t get me wrong: I love peace and quiet, too. In fact, I think I can really appreciate a calm moment, or the silence of a pre-dawn morn, in a way I never could when those times were less rare.
But I don’t think I am any more suited for this life than any other person. I don’t think there is something about my personality or my upbringing or my philosophy that makes me a better mother or better capable of handling a large family, unless you count my strong survival instincts. I, too, once considered three or four or more kids to be overwhelming. Thank goodness, God gave them to me one at a time and gave me a chance to get a handle on one level of parenting before bringing on the next stage.
Children will take all of you that they can have. It doesn’t matter if you have one or two or ten, they will take all your energy. Sure, if I had stopped at two, I would be thinking that in ten years, my life might become my own again. Instead, my youngest child will be the age of my current oldest child, and I’ll have many more years to go. But that’s okay. I wouldn’t trade a single one of my kids for anything – not even a “real” life.
Raising a family – that is real life.