I often read complaints from parents with lots of kids (Definition of lots of kids depends on your perspective… I confess that for me, lots of kids is three and up!) about the stupid comments and judgments strangers make about their big brood. “Are they all yours?!” “Don’t you know how babies are made?” “Were they all planned?” “I could never have so many kids!”
I thought I’d chime in and tell you what I think about you and your hefty household.
I think it’s awesome.
Extremely impressive: We are all good at different things, we all enjoy different things, we all have different life experiences. I am always impressed by achievements that are different from my own and that I feel I could never manage. Lots of people tell me they could never pack up and move across the country, and tell me they’re impressed that I’ve done it twice. For me, this was a challenge but I don’t consider it a fantastic feat. That said, I can’t imagine my husband and I managing more than two children, I just don’t think it’s in us. Therefore, I am, without fail, impressed by families in which the offspring outnumber the adults (this, of course, includes my admiration for single-parent households).
Extremely daunting: Just like some might consider teaching a class of raucous teenagers (my daily reality pre-motherhood) totally daunting, the idea of a house full of my own children for whose well-being I am entirely responsible is totally daunting to me.
Inspiring great admiration: This is the most correct definition of awesome as it applies to how I feel every time I meet or see a big family. I often admire people with traits I wish I possessed or whose achievements I find particularly impressive. At the zoo with Cub and my parents (in other words, with one child and three adults in charge of him), I spotted a couple with their five children in tow, with the oldest maybe around 10 years old. I couldn’t help but admire the amount of self-sacrifice, patience and energy that I perceive as requirements of parenting a big family, especially when I was at my wit’s end with one little boy in the throes of the terrible twos.
Inspiring great apprehension or fear: Yes, I admit, the idea of having a big family is, to me, kind of scary. It’s scary because I don’t think I could handle it, but it also scares me because I wonder if one day I’ll regret that we didn’t have a bigger family. Something I love about my Mom’s family is that she has three sisters and a brother. Five siblings! (Definitely falls into my definition of daunting.) I grew up having a family dinner with all my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins once a week. If one sister couldn’t make it, there was still plenty of a crowd to make for a fun evening. Christmas was (and still is) stupendous. With just two children of my own, will I ever be able to achieve the same kind of big family bustle that I still love going home to?
I think you’re awesome, so sometimes I say stuff that annoys you.
So, I admit, because I think it’s so awesome, sometimes I blurt out stupid stuff. Granted, I’d never compare you and your partner to Catholic rabbits or call you dumb-dumbs incapable of using contraception, but I might ask sincere, curious questions. I am fascinated by realities that are different from my own and I love to learn what makes other people tick.
First of all, yes, I might check to see if they’re all yours. Maybe you’re out with your two kids and their two friends! Then I would sound kind of dumb telling you I think your big family is awesome. Yes, I might say, “I don’t know how you do it.” Because I don’t, and it fascinates me. I might pick your brain for my blog, since I figure the more kids you have, the more of an expert parent you are, but the less time you have to impart that knowledge on others. And ya, you might even catch me saying, “I could never have so many kids.” Honestly, the translation of this is: I think you are awesome.
So maybe you get a bit sick of people wondering if you birthed each and every one of them and if they came individually or in multiples, or if you want more or if you ever forget their names… but just remember, the actual meaning behind all of those annoying questions is: “I think you are awesome.”