I run into many people who can’t believe I have “so many” kids. Whether at the grocery store, at the library, at church, or at public gatherings or parties, people have been impressed, confused, and shocked about the fact that I have eight kids. I realize we don’t come across large families very often. Of course, it depends on where you live and who you socialize with; but in general, the number of children per immediate family has decreased significantly.
But for most of human history, most parents had quite a lot of kids. People have done it. People have done it for much longer than we haven’t done it. In the 1800s, families had, on average, seven or eight kids. Today, average families tend to have one or two kids. But, if you look around, you can still find big families. You can find them in your neighborhood, your city, and your state. In other countries and in other cultures, having a lot of children is still seen as a blessing and is even still the norm.
The Difficulty of New Parenthood
One reason people think they can't have a lot of kids is they envision having a newborn. And having a newborn might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in life. Or maybe it was your pregnancy. Maybe that was extremely uncomfortable and painful. Or maybe, right now, you have a teenager and it seems like there isn’t anything more exhausting that that.
We extrapolate and assume. Our brains tell us we will feel that same difficulty again with 100% of the same problems recurring. But that’s not really what is going to happen.
Having a newborn and only a newborn can be isolating, tiring, and almost impossible. That’s why we make meals, clean the house, have baby showers, and much more to help a first-time mom. That’s why some first-time moms hire doulas or have their mothers stay at their home for weeks at a time to help. Being a first-time parent is all-consuming and there isn’t much to prepare you other than books. But reading about it isn’t living it. Even watching others isn’t living it.
Think of any other life experience, wouldn’t you say the first time was the hardest? The second time is always easier. There is a learning curve. There is a lack of confidence and experience.
The Beauty of Family and Community Support
With the second baby, all the adjustments you made as first time parents have already been made. You aren’t sacrificing your kid-free life anymore. All those activities you do and those things you spend money on when you don’t have kids are already gone, or maybe just adjusted. You have given them up or modified them. The baby equipment is probably in your house. You probably figured out breastfeeding and bottle feeding already. You most likely have baby sheets, blankets and clothes, and a car seat. You still have to grow that baby, deliver that baby, and take care of that baby. But it’s often significantly easier in terms of experience.
My third pregnancy was twins, so that was harder. But, at the same time, I had three times the help. Everyone I had ever met and people I had never met just showed up at my house to help me and my husband. So, in a way, having the twins wasn’t as hard. With help, it was maybe 40% of the work that the first-time baby was. Although breastfeeding two babies and making sure they had their premie formula in the milk, pumping, and feeding constantly was a challenge. But people came and held them and helped with laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
It Comes Down to Trust
This idea isn't just applicable to the newborn stage. The same goes for the toddler stage, preschool stage, etc. Even teenagers. Once you’ve had a teenager and have gone through those murky waters, you already have somewhat of an idea what to expect. You are more prepared, more aware, and more competent.
If you change your thinking about this topic and remind yourself everything is easier every time you do it, you’ll feel better, calmer, and more confident in having another kid.
Whether it’s time, love, patience, money, or something else, you probably think there is something of which you don’t have enough. We all fall into that trap! In various areas of life we can tell ourselves that we don’t have enough of something.
If you feel called to bringing another life into this world, my main advice is to trust. Trust you will have enough of all that is needed. Trust that you will be enough. And when you fall short, trust that our Lord will be enough for your children.
Lauren is a wife, mom and life coach from Northeast Ohio. Her hope is to show all women a better and healthier way to think and feel about themselves, the world and our Lord. You can read from her here.