Is Having 5 Kids Hard?

September 5, 2018

 

A common question I receive in different forms that doesn’t have a short answer is, “Is having 5 kids hard?”. I will never sugar coat what life with 5 kids is like. There are days that seem to demand more energy than I have to give, and there are days that seem smooth enough to give us a moment of reassurance that we are doing alright. There are moments I am tempted to run and hide in my closet for a 5 minute breather to escape the noise, but there are also moments my eyes well up with tears being overwhelmed with just how much I love them. This is the great juxtaposition of motherhood, a wide range of emotions that coexist together. It brings us on a wild ride which requires helmets and serious battle gear. We hurt when they hurt. We fear all of the possible threats or dangers to their lives. We are filled with joy seeing them happy. The emotions are high and low, up and down, and to Timbuktu and back. I think however, all of this applies whether you are a mother of 1 or a mother of 11 (Hi mom! She should probably write this post.).

So when people tell me they are overwhelmed with “just two” children, and they can’t imagine 5, I agree with them. I can’t imagine it either…until I remember the number of children I have. You see, 2 was overwhelming for me also. 3 almost broke me. 4 was batsh*t crazy, and 5 is still borderline batsh*t crazy. However, there are a few things that are different now….


 

1) Motherhood will always demand my max capacity. No matter the number of children we have, we pour everything into them. We give all we have to care for them and love them in the best way we know how.  I think often times (there are always exceptions), as your family grows so does your capacity. You learn to let some things go, you get creative with multi-tasking, and your expectations naturally shift and adapt to, dare I say, a more reasonable level? (Coming from someone who, before kids, was determined that her children were not going to watch tv. Hardy har har.)

2) We are not capable of circumstances that are not our current reality. If I could recommend one thing, it would be to never determine your family size right after birth, while you are tired, or when you have a screaming toddler. We are not capable of the future in the present moment. Our mental strength or tired spirits often cannot fathom anything more than what is right in front of us… and we shouldn’t. Gabe and I have attempted to keep an open ended family size to leave space for what we may not be able to grasp in the present. I never thought I would be able to manage 5, and had a difficult time accepting pregnancy news with a 6 month baby already in my arms. But as soon as she arrived, that wonderful familiarity took over and a deep peace filled my heart. She was meant to be here, and I was made to be her mother. Not a day sooner or a day later, but in that moment I had what I needed to welcome our 5th baby into the world. Was it easy to adjust when I got home? Not at all. The days turned into months though, and a new rhythm took over. We can easily get caught up in fears, doubts, worries, and “what if’s” that could possibly just rob us of the greatest joys the world has to offer.

3) Children get older. I know, obviously. But! I swear when I had 3 under 4, I felt like the days all bled into one. I felt like I would be in a perpetual state of answering approximately 117 questions a day and wondered if I would ever feel rested again. However, phases are indeed temporary. 5 yrs old is golden. 7 yrs. old is even better. 9 yrs old? Glorious! Independence, logical conversation, and problem solving actually exist in these years. Gabriel and Veronica fight over who gets to play with the babies who would otherwise be clinging to my legs. A shift happens, and suddenly life doesn’t feel like you are drowning anymore. So currently, 5 feels much more like a balance than 3 small dependent children did, if that is possible!

 

I write all of this to have a place to direct those frequent questions on instagram that need a more thorough answer than yes or no in regards to family size. The truth is, we should be careful to never compare. We all have different circumstances, support systems, personalities, and limits. Not everyone is meant to have the same amount of children. There is no one perfect family size. There are many factors that weigh into this subject that are so personal, and it is something that should be discerned and discussed between you, your significant other, and God (if you are a person of faith), the creator of life.  Just think about how many women experience difficult births.  There are women who struggle with infertility. Women who struggle with surprise pregnancies. Women who come from tough childhoods. Women who struggle with mental disorders or physical ailments or a have a child with a handicap. Women who have extremely challenging pregnancies or post-partum experiences. We are all so unique. Our stories are each so different. So it is important that we don’t lightly toss around the words “are you done having kids?” or “are you going to try for a boy/girl?” or “do you know how babies are made?” Maybe we can even start changing the language to more positive and respectful dialogue, because we never know the road that someone else has traveled, and the challenges they have faced along that road.

I happen to have pretty easy pregnancies and okay recoveries. This has allowed me to be open to a larger family size. It is something Gabe and I frequently pray for guidance on. I grew up in a large family so the logistics were not foreign to me. I loved having a built in support system in my own home. I loved the experience of friendship that I have had throughout my life with my brothers and sisters. It doesn’t compare to anything else. It is something we hope that our own children can have with each other long after we are gone. However, I know this means a lot of sacrifice on our part. It requires giving up many opportunities and daily freedoms as well as financial sacrifices. Having 5 children certainly wasn’t for my own personal fulfillment or just for fun. It was more for them. Seeing the relationships grow between our children has been the best part of my life. It is something I find worth fighting for. There is no material thing or experience on this earth that can replace the value of that.

That being said, I am acutely aware that large families are not an option for everyone or not always possible. So I also think there are ways to create a beautiful family culture no matter the size. There can be friends who are like family, and there can be support systems through other sources. There can be memories, traditions, and a great deal of love in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. So much to say on this topic, but I will leave it at this for now.

Ultimately, no matter how many children you have, parenthood is selfless love. It isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be. It can be incredibly life giving though. I would never want to go back to a life without my wise old soul Gabriel, my creative wildflower Veronica, my wild hearted and comical Max the Moose, my tender hearted curious Rocco, my spunky sweet pea Azelie, and even my angel baby Cecilia. Each have molded and shaped me into someone who I would rather be. Our children have that unique ability to change us for the better.

 

(Photo by Tim Willouby)

 

Leave a Comment

  • This was so beautiful!!! I love your first point!! What a beautiful way to explain it 😊I’m a mom of 2 currently and my husband and I too have left our family size up to God. Reading this gives me so much peace about (god-willing!) having more when at times 2 littles seems overwhelming. ❤️

    • Thank you for reading Samantha. I know for many not having a pre-determined family size is hard, but for me it has been freeing knowing I don’t have to have everything figured out right away.

  • Your words always hit me right in the heart. This is so beautiful and so inspiring! Thank you for always sharing honestly and thoughtfully.

  • “We are not capable of the future in the present moment.”

    What wisdom! Thank you for writing this whole piece, and for sharing. I admire you, Gabe, and your family.

  • Thanks for sharing. It’s a question I’ve been tempted to ask but I feel like it’s invasive. I always wanted three kids and seeing your beautiful family makes me want a big family but I have the worst pregnancies I can’t imagine going through it any more than this second time I’m currently in. And I had an emergent c-section with my son and so there are more risks involved. So beyond the point but what’s on my mind lately and I appreciate you sharing what’s on yours.

    • Carrie, definitely not beyond the point! Giving up our bodies to bring life to a new one is a miracle. It’s hard, and sometimes brutal. I hope your delivery is a peaceful one. Let the future sit where it belongs, and celebrate that you made it this far! x

  • “If I could recommend one thing, it would be to never determine your family size right after birth, while you are tired, or when you have a screaming toddler. We are not capable of the future in the present moment.”

    YES. To all of it. My 8 year old is especially helpful with her little brother, and that makes me feel better for when #5 comes along in a few months! It’s all crazy and sometimes I have no idea how to balance everything (at least as much as I can! since balance is kind of a unicorn) but I can’t imagine life without one of my littles. I love seeing all their little relationships forming, and we’re so blessed that they have each other for life.

    Thank you for sharing!!

    • Balance is a unicorn. Sooooo true.

    • Balance certainly is a myth! It looks more like giving the right time to your order of priorities. It really is so awesome to see how much love children have to give. I melt when I see Gabriel with Azelie.

  • Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. My whole life I wanted four kids and yet, I still cried when we got pregnant with number 4 (4 kids in 6 years seemed daunting). Whenever I’m having a tough day, my wisest and oldest friend always reminds me “everyone’s hard is hard” and “the days are long, but the years are short.”

    Most of my friends have 3+ kids and it seems bigger families are on the rise. I love that the stigma of “2 kids is perfect” is no longer the case.

    • Holly I can relate to this so much! Always wanted a big family, but it was so difficult to accept my 5th pregnancy! In the same vein, it breaks my heart to see my children grow up. I am starting to feel the “years are short” part so much, and it motivates me to make the most of this brief time with them.

  • Hey, girl! Juliana (Norton) here. I’ve never read your blog before, and I saw your dad post this. Your words are absolutely beautiful and exactly what I needed to read as we prepare to welcome our fifth in 3 months. ❤️ Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts on this wonderful rollercoaster of motherhood.

    • Hi Juliana! Thank you so much for reading. Wow, so happy for you and your growing family. 5 is pretty wild, but as you know, each child brings with them such an irreplaceable light!

  • Loooooove this post. I also think after 3 kids the kids also transition in their expectations (no longer 1-1 parent and child ratio where all their demands are met) I mean this in a nice way – it is a great life skill for them and everyone becomes more of a team. Family like is such fun.

    • Amanda, so very true! It has been cool to see my older ones take pride in their role as big brother and sister and come to understand when are good times to offer help or how to be patient with someone younger than them, etc.

  • What a beautiful, thoughtful post, Anna–thank you so much for sharing!

  • Love this so much. I have 5 kids, also, and you basically wrote out all of my thoughts on it all just perfectly.

  • gosh, thank you for sharing this!!!! we are about to have our third, and i think no matter how many you have, you worry a little about the new balance of adding another. but i love the point you make – the first babies get bigger! love love love this post. your family looks to be just the sweetest ever.

  • This is such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your heart and your insights, I am so grateful for your words here! We have 4 children and I am due with our 5th in January, our oldest is 6, the youngest 15 months, so they are all pretty close, and you honestly couldn’t be more spot on about the range of emotions that happen in a given day with everyone! We too, have decided to leave the size of our family up to God, and although trying at times to not be in control, it is freeing to know that it is in someone else’s hands who knows much better than us. Thank you for your open heart and your perspective, it is so appreciated!

    • Jessica, Congratulations to you! I know it must be a time in your life where the days are loooong. I am so glad this post could remind you that you aren’t alone on this road. x

  • Our crew of 6 living kids spans 24 years. Our 4 youngest are home with us, and people keep asking the usual trite questions. One day, shortly after our youngest was born, a clerk in a store asked if I knew what caused it. I gave him the single raised eyebrow and asked if he had anything original to offer. If you aren’t going to be helpful, encouraging, or original, try something amusing but skip the trite and glib commentary. Parents of large families have heard it all before and frankly, some of us would rather you just get out of our way and let us get the job done before somebody in our lineup loses something. That something could be a shoe, or mama losing her shizz. Gamble wisely, there.

  • The words God has given you to express this topic were a balm to my spirit. I know God has given me my children to draw me to Him, to reflect his heart through the parallel of God our Father and we His children. I want/need His heart to love and nurture and teach my kids! It comforts me so when I read of others who have that heart. Thankyou for your influence. You are truly an inspiration. I have four 6 and under and they are the hardest and most rewarding responsibility I have. I need reminded, often, that God gave them to ME. His plan for that goes far beyond my finite mind can handle. Humbling.

  • This is so timely! I’m in the midst of navigating life with a 2 year old and a 2 week old, and while it’s overall going very smoothly so far (aside from 2 days that have included many screaming tantrums by the 2 year old), I really appreciate hearing your perspective particularly when things get challenging. I totally agree with point #3; I’ve already seen that with my 2 year old-he’s able to help out in little ways here and there (take out the recycling if accompanied, get my water bottle or a blanket if I’m stuck under a nursing baby) which is really nice. On point #2, that truth is one of the reasons why it makes me really sad that at some hospitals, right after birth they ask women about long term birth control or even permanent sterilization. When women are in such a vulnerable and exhausted state hours or just days after giving birth, it seems like the worst possible time for the medical field to ask them about their long term family size goals!

  • I have seven grown children. Your blog brings back many happy memories.

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