With the world population recently reaching the 7 billion mark, I've become a bit paranoid. When I'm out with all four of my kids, people constantly stop me and say things like, "Four? Really?" or "Are they all yours?" and my favorite, "So… are you going to have more?"
There are plenty of families with two and three kids. Just look around… but four? Of course, I never took it personally before. I mean, everyone in my family has four kids! My Dad is one of four, my Mom is one of four. All my aunts have four kids each. I have as many cousins as Ariel has gadgets, gizmos, whozits and whatzits. With the world population announcement, however, I'm constantly feeling as though I have to justify why I have chosen to have a big family.
So, here it goes. Because. There, does that help explain anything? I thought not.
I could say that all my precious babies were all unplanned (which would be true) but all very much loved and adored. I could say that my husband and I never expected to have four children this soon but always wanted a big family (also true). I own my own business and work from home and therefore can take care of such a large horde of children effectively (…now I'm laughing). I won't say any of that, however, as it's really no one's business, is it? I shouldn't have to explain myself. In fact, I want two more kids — at a much later date. So there.
Despite the obvious disadvantages of having a large family (like all the messes… and the noise… and the money spent and our impact on the planet, of course…), there are actually quite a few advantages to raising a large family that I've discovered along the way.
- There's always someone to play with. There's always someone to talk to. There is constant stimulation.
- Each child has responsibilities and knows that if those responsibilities aren't met, he or she and the others might suffer. They understand that their action or inaction affects others.
- There's a lot more giving than taking. Though often loud and obnoxious toward one another, my kids share and give to each other constantly. They forgive one another, they hug things out. They understand and appreciate friendship.
- Everyone is very aware of their talents, interests, strengths and weaknesses. As part of a large group, those things become obvious.
- The children understand that working together is often more beneficial than working for one's self. While they can be selfish, they're often not.
- As the Mom, I have learned the same lessons and I believe I'm a better person as a Mom of four than if I were not.
All of the things my children learn now as part of a big family will transfer over to the big world one day. They'll be ready for the world and they'll be better people for having had siblings. It's my biggest hope that they'll be great friends as grown-ups just as they are now and that they'll support each other's journeys through life.
Okay, well maybe I explained myself to the point of tears at this point. I love my big family. What else can I say?
EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. Read her blog, Four Little Monsters, at FourLittleMonsters.com