There are six of us, plus two dogs. Me, the Current Husband, teen boy, teen girl, next boy and the youngest. The Current Husband is my only husband and father to this "stone cold pack of weirdo's". These thoughts are mine and I hope there will be plenty you can take from our busy life. I've been writing for years, under Once Equals Habit, and so may throw in a few old stories if I can drag my brain back to the baby/pre-school years.
You are only ever as happy as your unhappiest child - FACT.
The unhappiest child in our home is the youngest. He is fighting the World, one battle at at time.
Anything ranging from his age (he always wants to be older), his placement in the family (he hates being the youngest), the fact no-one will play with him (his nearest brother is autistic and doesn't 'get' him) and finally: "why do I go to bed first every night?" This is NOT because he is the youngest, it is because he is bloody exhausting.
Come on, we all have a favourite, don't we? Obviously mine changes, sometimes hourly. I've just been through the trauma of GCSE's and I find this heartbreaking. It hit me like a ton of bricks that he is nearly 16 and it feels as if he was a 'babe in arms' about 6 months ago. I could cry at how brief their childhood seems and would give up chocolate if I could go back to 2001 all over again.
I don't think I would change anything but I would just cherish it all much much more - and I'm a cherisher .... I have books with each childs' first 100 words listed, order of their teeth coming in and falling out, boxes of art/certificates and trophies and I still want more.
My message here is enjoy it, relax and don't overthink it too much and you will be doing a great job.
Get help, if you need it: physically or mentally (depression is another post).
It is relentless and will be the hardest thing you ever do but parenting the future generation is so important and I intend to send great humans* out in to this crazy World.
*Well the first 3 are fine but number 4 is a bit temperamental! I was ill when pregnant, he was ill when born and he is genuinely fighting the World one day at a time. He frustrates everyone in the house, daily. He hates being the youngest, but we wouldn't change him for anything, would we?
Is it perfect to have a son and a daughter? I read on a family members birth announcement - on Facebook - a congratulations from someone who actually typed:
"congratulations, now you have the perfect family. One of each".
No pressure then. The poster apparently had a boy and a girl and I felt glad that she considered her own family perfect - is that reality? I bet she has had moments of bloody hating her perfect life ... explosive nappy, screaming toddler, sore nipples, trying to breast feed whilst the toddler needs you to get the potty, giving up breast feeding and then mentally hating yourself for turning to bottles ..... life with ANY children is NEVER perfection.
I remember feeling very tearful when our daughter was born (number 2) and a visitor said "that's your family complete then". I felt affronted that someone decided I'd done my bloody bit, so I went on to have 2 more .... not just to spite them but their words ring in my ears 13 years on.
When I was pregnant with number 3 and number 4, I was asked many questions by strangers, such as:
"Are you trying for a boy or a girl?" To which I replied "neither, we have one of each" I was then asked "why?" and, my particular favourite "Do they all have the same Father?" - High Street Fashion chain sales assistant!
Don't get me wrong, I don't think we have the perfect family, but I enjoy our crazy life and know that it wouldn't be everyone's choice. People with less than 4 children always justify their choice to me. Why? I don't justify my choices to them. I get comments like "we like our holidays", who doesn't? "We like them to do 3 extra curricular clubs each", good for you - I hated sitting in a swimming pool sauna watching the eldest learn to swim. So much so, we taught the other three ourselves .... imagine the cash we saved towards our holiday that we are never going to go on because there are six of us!
We are lucky to have friends and family we can stay with regularly, if we need to escape home. However, unless it's an all expenses trip to Disney Land, Florida (or a full week at Centre Parcs) I just cannot be bothered to pack for 6! The logistics of sleeping arrangements at a friend's recently reminded me of a conversation with an acquaintance who wanted a third child but daren't broach the subject with her Husband because he had, more or less, cut off some other friends with 3 children by saying "don't invite them over, there's too many of them"!
I love large families and am particularly drawn to them, especially as every Saturday is party night and someone is always up for a conversation - not just a taxi out with their mates, once old enough.
Yes we are loud and take up a lot of space but we aren't animals!
I need to point out though that my babes may as well be from a smaller family because they are neither independent or self-sufficient (another large family stereotype).
Every day is a hard struggle with laundry, homework etc. but it's not, not perfect, it's just the life we have chosen and I don't judge.
Therein lies the answer: don't judge, just enjoy. Or as my Gran would have said "you've made your bed, now lie in it"!
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