I’m The Last Woman Who Ever Thought She’d Have Five Kids

Happy Easter!

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2014

What a great looking family!

It’s weird for me to remember that there was a time, many years ago, when I thought I didn’t want kids. I mean, maybe one or two, but only after I’d been married several years and felt ready. When I started dating my husband eighteen years ago, I wasn’t seeking a husband or a new religion. I just thought, “He’s a fun, hunky guy I’d love to accompany to the senior prom.” Seventeen year old Kelly didn’t particularly like children; in fact, I don’t recall even being that great of a babysitter. I didn’t know anything about large families either, as no one in my family had more than three kids. Living in Lancaster, PA, the only large families I came across were Amish or Mennonite. I truly thought having a large family was something only for those old-timey religions that have given up so many other modern conveniences.

But yet, here I am, married almost thirteen years with five wonderful children. I actually consider my family size small-ish, but I know from the gaping mouths and wide-eyed stares I get from strangers that five is considered a lot of kids by today’s standards. It’s hard to explain to the checkout lady that I don’t have all the patience in the world. It’s hard to explain to a world of “two and through” how great having a large family is. I know if I tried to go back seventeen years and explain it to myself, I wouldn’t believe myself capable of such a feat. However, being open to an undetermined number of children, rather than some ideal family size has been surprising to me for many reasons.

1. The more kids I’ve had, the more I realize I like children. Just because I wasn’t all googly-eyed about babies as a teenager hasn’t meant that I secretly wish all my kids would just grow up and start being more like rational adults. I honestly enjoy the company of my kids. Most kids are pretty fun to be around and the more time you spend with kids the more you realize that.

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2012

2. The more kids I have, the easier it gets. When all my children were little, it was an overwhelming time. But that stage is already gone and although two of my children will always be dependent on me, the older three do more and more for themselves, and for me. They play together and can assist their younger siblings. I think this is the most surprising fact that mainstream society just doesn’t grasp. I don’t have five kids hanging on me all day needing things. One child is hard, because you’re all they got. Throw several more siblings in the mix and they come to you less and less.  Discipline is key. I’ve learned to be consistent and have high expectations, and my kids are well behaved because of it. I wasn’t born a great parent, and I feel like I made a lot of mistakes in the early years, but having five kids has given me the experience to know how to raise them into pleasant people. Now the older kids hold the younger ones to these high standards as well.

3. My kids always want more siblings. This was the biggest surprise to me. I never asked for more siblings growing up. But my kids want an even larger family. They don’t see babies as time sucks on mom. The don’t get jealous. And when my kids talk about marriage, they talk about having large families of their own.  When I hear adults say they came from a large family and their parents didn’t have enough time and attention for them all, I do sympathize, but that’s a parenting issue. I know small families with children who felt unloved. Unfortunately, a lack of parental affection or attention is not a problem reserved for large families. Thankfully, I also know adults who grew up in large families who voice the same love of their families that I hope my kids will.

4. I don’t feel deprived by having a large family. Not at all. As a single income family in a state with a high cost of living, you can bet we make a lot of sacrifices. But never once have a thought, I wish we’d not had as many kids in order to have a larger home, new cars or easier time running them to soccer practice. Had we limited our family size because our goal was to have nice things and travel a lot, we would’ve missed out on so much . But this is another lesson it’s hard for society to understand. The greatest gift you can give your children isn’t a Disney World vacation, it’s a sibling. But don’t assume just because you have a large family you’ll never have nice things again. It may take longer to save or plan or whatever, but your children will still have great memories of their childhood, even with less stuff. In fact, you will discover that many of the best childhood memories don’t require new stuff at all.

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2010

5. When two or more of my kids go somewhere, my house feels empty. Seriously, I feel like my house would be too quiet if I had any less than four children in it at any given point. Sometimes quiet is good, but the energy of having a house full of kids is contagious and infuses our home with youthful exuberance.As much as I joke about wanting to become an empty nester, I do enjoy the feeling of our home right now. It’s active, hands-on and not too fussy. It’s welcoming, open and a place to laugh and have fun. When I was younger, I wanted a nicely decorated home to show off. Now I realize my home is just a building and my kids are my trophies. Put them on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens!

6. Having a large family has made me a better person. Not just a better mom, but a better, more well-rounded person. You can’t be selfish with lots of kids. I mean, you can try, but you’re going to be very miserable. Parenthood demands self-control, humility and patience. I haven’t mastered them yet, but I’m continually working on it. I’m their first role model, and I strive to be a great one. I’ve been forced to admit to my bad habits and tendencies and root them out, lest I pass them on.  What other job demands such sacrifice? Is there a more demanding boss than a hungry infant, screaming toddler or sulking tween? You could not get me to work this hard for anyone but my children.

Seventeen year old me was wrong, and 35 year old me is glad I didn’t listen to her. The thought of a having a big family may be overwhelming but living in one is hardly ever that way. (And honestly, I found raising two little kids more overwhelming than five. So much anxiety comes from inexperience.) If God entrusts you with a large family, rest assured that you can handle it. You might be surprised at how much you actually enjoy it.

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2009

large family

35 thoughts on “I’m The Last Woman Who Ever Thought She’d Have Five Kids

  1. Couldn’t agree more with every single point. I think people assume that 5 children is the work of one x5. It doesn’t work out that way at all. I go for hours on end without the children looking for me they are so occupied with each other. I found 2 the most difficult.

  2. Love it! I’m the same way – I was a “one or two” kind of gal, and never liked kids much growing up (In fact I’m not a fan of other peoples kids unless they related to me or the children of close friends). I was really surprised with Henry how much I was willing to give from him, and after the miscarriages how much I’m still willing to put myself through for more kids.

  3. Love your post! It’s true, I have five and I really hesitate to call us a “large” family, yet once a week when I set foot in the grocery store, you’d think people thought the Duggars just walked through those double sliding doors. Five IS a lot by today’s cultural norms, but being a mother to five is the greatest blessing of my life. 🙂

  4. I, too, was one of those who thought “no kids” — as a matter of fact, when my heart started changing on the issue, I mentioned to my husband and he said…”But…I thought we weren’t going to do that?!???” LOL

  5. Kelly, this is so great. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Growing up, I was the same way. I was never a babysitter because I did not like kids. But, after Dex, the Lord has put on our hearts a desire for a bigger family. God willing! 🙂 Beautiful post and it is such an encouragement for those who have the desire but are a little scared at the sacrifice that will be asked of them (ahem, me!). So, thank you.

  6. #1 is me all over again. I’m still working on liking other people’s kids, but I adore my own which teenaged me would have never guessed. I was the one who didn’t like kids and thought I’d have one maybe two. I now only have four which is another shocker. I describe four children as smallish.

  7. Great post! All of your points are excellent, and #3 is spot on. My boys want more siblings and talk of having large families one day. Also, time and attention is more about parenting choices and not about the number of children – one child can feel neglected and 12 children can feel loved and listened to. Thank you for being so open and honest!

  8. As the mother of 11 living children, with only 4 still at home, I think you are spot on with this! Although all 11 have never been under the same roof, the house started feeling empty when a few would be away or had moved out. 11 isn’t so many….seems like just the right number for us. Loving it that we now have local grand babies, because I need to be around baby cuteness!

  9. #5 made me weep. Yes, please let’s put our kids on the cover of a magazine and forget the fancy houses! It’s impossible to have both, so let’s focus on what’s truly important. I just love the whole post, Kelly. And count me as one of those who grew up in a big family and wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact, I just got back from celebrating an Easter where I only got to see 2 of my 10 siblings and we all felt those who were missing.

  10. I love this, it’s very encouraging. I thought I wanted five kids, then it took us forever and ever to actually get pregnant. Now I’m 35 and we have 2 – an insane 2.5-yo and a 4-mo – and sometimes it feels like they’re killing us. Especially the toddler. I doubt we’ll ever get up to five, given my age and our not exactly stellar fertility, but it’s nice to know it’s downhill from here if we’re blessed with more.

  11. I also have five kids, and I’ve also been married almost 13 years, and I also planned on having no more than two or three at the time of my marriage and then later converted to Catholicism. I agree 100% with your entire post!

  12. Mother of 10 here on earth – this post says everything I want to say to the random stranger when they express their astonishment, and at times, utter distress at our large family. I LOVE having a big family!

  13. Really really enjoyed this! Married 5 years with number 3 coming any time and people think we’re gluttons for punishment. What a beautiful beautiful explanation of the larger family mindset for you.

  14. Thanks for the post. I have 4 kiddos 4 and under and honestly right now is just nuts! 🙂 Its helpful to hear from other moms about the relationship their older kids have and that it actually does get easier! Alleluia!

  15. Wow. Love everything you said Kelly. If things had been different, I would have loved a big family too. I agree, a sibling or two, or three, or four etc is so much more impotant than any things you can give a child. Love your blogs. Happy Easter to you and your family! (Alison)

  16. Love. 🙂 I’m expecting #7 right now, and I love it when people ask if NOW I’m done and I just shrug and smile. After the the first few, I couldn’t imagine more. Now, I can’t imagine getting to a point when there won’t be any more. Now, off to work on those high expectations and consistency….

  17. This is really inspiring. Especially because right now, I’m really struggling with a bunch of “friends” who feel compelled to tell me allllllll about how I “shouldn’t want kids.”

  18. I love having 4 children, would have had more if God had let that happen, yes children are a wondrous joy.

  19. Beautiful 🙂 My husband is a convert and was raised with the idea that 2 children is responsible, and anything more is a drain on your resources. So originally he wanted two kids. I wanted four. Then he wanted three. I wanted four. Then he wanted six. And I wanted four. Then he wanted eleven… And at this point we’re just taking them as they come – with four born in the first 5 years of marriage and 15+ more likely years of fertility, I have a feeling we’ll be classified as a “large” family sometime soon!

  20. Thanks for the good read! I have two right now and oh boy do I doubt my ability to have many more! Not enough to say “I’m done!” but enough to make me idly wonder if I will be slinging scrambled eggs at a whining hoarde until I suffocate under a pile of dirty laundry. I like my kids generally and do want more, but large family logistics are also beyond my life experience. So true inexperience–>anxiety.

    I grew up in York, PA, so I relate to thinking lots of kids is an Amish thing! I have always been Catholic and only encountered one or two big families in my younger years.

    1. Make me commenter #3 (or is it 4) who has “just” two right now and feels like she is drowning! . . . But on the shallowest of shallow levels, Kelly, the pictures in this post are a testament in themselves . . . you look prettier with each passing year! What’s your secret? (Oh yeah, having five kids. 😉

  21. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your post at the LTM link-up!! I loved this post the first time I read it and had to read it again. Happy Mother’s Day!! You are quite an inspiration to so many of us who enjoy the time we spend here each week!!

  22. Don’t think I’m nuts. I’m commenting twice …… because first off — the title is my life ….. (well, I’d have to change it to SIX kids) …. now I’m going back and reading the post. Muah!

  23. Now, I’ve read the post, and nodded my head at all of your wisdom.

    You are so very very right ….. having a large family has made me a better person — God’s sending me through the redeeming fire. 😉 I’m selfish by nature, but when you have loads of littles running around, ain’t nobody got time for being selfish.

    Bunches and bunches of hugs to you on Mother’s Day.

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