Thursday, March 10, 2011

That Big Family Thing...

Growing up I always wanted a big family. Like, always. I could never solidify what I wanted to do career wise when I was all grown up, and I never cared for romance. Sure, I wanted a significant other, but that wasn't essential to my future.

But the big family thing... that was a certainty.

I would have kids out the wazoo, 4-5 being a strict minimum, probably more like 8-12. I'd start young and birth them all close together, having like 12 in a 15 year range, some twins mixed in there. I filled notebooks with names and ages, imagining myself at 35 with at least 10 kids, all smiling and happy.

As I grew older and started to actually take care of others children, I pared it down some. 3-5 sounded nice. Definitely more than 2, and there was no way I was having an only child (and absolutely no way I was having 0 children!). Really, though, I still dreamed of having at least 8.

But with time and growing comes knowledge.

Kids are hard. Absolutely, completely, and totally worth it but still hard.

And outside of the work aspect there's the money-and-material-goods aspect. Kids need enough space, enough of the right kind of food, good shoes, activities, etc. Yeah we manage that pretty well. We believe in kids sharing rooms, buy most of our stuff from consignment sales (of which there are dozens in our area), and find a ton of free things to do in our wonderful city. Even so... we *want* to be able to provide things for our kids that they might not necessarily need, like good quality organic snacks and trips to the farm or zoo. Oh, and preschool.

The thing is.... part of me still wants the big family. I see big families and I honestly become jealous of the mama. So many sweet kids, helping each other out, playing together, etc. But then I think about *me* with a big family.... and I can still see it, yeah, but I can't see it in the same way...

Gone are the days that I glorified homeschooling. Still may happen, sure, but not anytime soon.

And gone are the days where I thought people lived a more peaceful life in a large family. Honestly you can feel isolated no matter the size of your family, just as you can receive tons of attention in either a large or small family.

I just... I don't idolize large families anymore.

Yeah, I see pros of course, especially when it comes to adopting to create a large family. I mean, if we want 10 kids then we may adopt a sibling group of 5 from foster care and wouldn't that just be flippin' awesome of us?

But I personally don't adopt to "save lives." I adopt to build my family, with the hopes that we are in fact adopting a child who does truly need a family... not so save his/her life but because I feel that any ethical adoption would only include a child actually in true need of a family.

So, yeah, on the one hand I'm kinda over that whole "giant family" thing.

But on the other hand I still kind of want it. I dream of adding on our third, then a fourth, then a fifth. In my daydreams I see no real end. So many possible scenarios, so many children needing homes.

And yet there will be an end. I don't feel we're at it now, but there will be someday. And I would really like to be "done" by my mid 30's, such that our 40's and 50's, and on and on, could be spent traveling and being able to just do more stuff.

I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I need to make a call *right this second!*, stop now, stop at 3, keep going, create a time limit, etc.... And I know that in the end we'll just keep going until we feel it's time to stop, and even then we could end up with another one, or not, and we really don't know what life has in store for us.

I guess lately I've just been looking back over my childhood fantasies and thinking about why I wanted a big family so badly. I have a ton of totally selfish reasons, of course:
-I was lonely as a child. Very lonely. How could a child in a big family be lonely with so many to play with?
-I like the personalities of the children I know who are growing up large families.
-I love names! Think of all the wonderful names I could give my children!
-I could have more children than anyone in my high school graduating class. That'll show 'em!
-Just like I envy other large families, there'll be people out there who envy me!
-I will be noteworthy in some sense, even if my family size is all I'm known for.
-I will never be alone. I will always be loved. Even if one or two children reject me, I'll have several more who love me.

Okay, so those.... yeah, those are the "digging deep to find the selfish reasons I wanted a big family" things. Icky, right? Hard to write, even harder to publish. But it feels somewhat cathartic to bring them out to the light.

And now for the reasons I'm still open to having a large family:
-I love children. I really do. And I can easily see myself with 6 kids, playing in the backyard, reading stories, cheering at games, helping with homework, etc.
-We don't feel done yet and we may, like most people, keep adding to our family until we reach our "limit" when it comes to resources, our until we just feel that we are done.
-I watch my boys playing with each other and loving each other and having so much fun with each other, and I can easily see another two or three kids joining the mix and also loving it.
-I don't know, even if my reasons were originally quite selfish it's still hard to get rid of the image of celebrating my 50th birthday surrounded by several teen and adult children, and possibly even very small grand children and in-laws.

I think, like with just about all things, it's a "see how it goes" sort of thing. But I'm no longer longing for the large or mega family living, no longer imagining myself as pioneer woman with a dozen kids running around. Now I'm actually enjoying just being a normal mom and a normal young woman. And if I can still be normal with 3 or 4 kids then, hey, how sweet would that be? :)

1 comment:

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

I really enjoyed your post. I think when you have one or two children it is difficult to imagine yourself in a situation where you're parenting four or five. When you have three, you can't imagine doubling it to six. Whatever will be will be and you'll be great, whether it's as a mum of two or twenty.