I love children and have wanted a bunch of them for as long as I can remember.
Not surprisingly, this fact significantly narrowed the field of potential marriage partners back when I was in college.
“Want to grab a cup of coffee?” an interested classmate might venture.
“That depends,” I’d answer matter-of-factly. “How many kids do you plan to have when you get married?”
Subtlety has never my strong suit.
This line of questioning quickly scared off most would-be suitors, but I didn’t want to risk falling in love with someone who didn’t share my desire for a big family.
So I held out… and my patience eventually paid off. Mr. Right finally showed up a few weeks before graduation.
Not only was he interested (in me!), but he gave the desired response to all of my questions — and didn’t seem intimidated by my asking them.
The rest, as they say, is history: I married him 16 months later, got pregnant two weeks into our honeymoon, and spent the following quarter of a century either pregnant or nursing (or both).
Life as the mother of many has been every bit as blissful as I imagined. Sure, there have been lots of unexpected challenges, but there have also been plenty of unanticipated rewards. Here are a few of my favorites:
There are so many beautiful names with wonderful meanings out there, it’s difficult to narrow down the list of favorites and pick only one. Having a big family completely solves that quandary — you can use them all! (Or in our case, almost all — we’re still hoping for a Hannah).
There is never a dull moment in a home filled with children, and there is always somebody to play with. Neighbors and schoolmates will come and go, but siblings are friends you can keep for life.
Big families invite all sorts of inquiries: “Are all these kids yours?” “Don’t you know what causes that?” “Are you going to have any more?” “Do I need to buy you a TV?” In our experience, most of the people asking such questions aren’t trying to be rude — they’re genuinely curious — so we answer as graciously and amicably as we possibly can. What a great way to meet people!
A really big family can qualify for discounted group admission rates without even trying. And do we ever get our money’s worth on those annual zoo and museum memberships — especially the ones that offer reciprocal benefits at sister sites!
A Deeper Admiration
The love and affection I felt for my husband as a spouse, great though it was, increased manifold when he became the father of my children. I still enjoy watching him teach and train and interact with our preschoolers, adolescents, teens, and adult children, but there is something so specially endearing about the way he cuddles and cootchy-coos our babies, it makes me glad that for so long we’ve had one in the house to draw that tenderness out of him.
A wise man once observed, “Many hands make light labor.” He was right. Of course, many hands make bigger messes to begin with, but when everyone pitches in to help clean up, household chores are knocked out in short order, and kids learn responsibility and other important life skills from an early age.
Between pregnancy and breastfeeding, you can literally go for years without having a monthly cycle. I’m not gonna lie — that has really been nice.
Pick Your Sport
Depending on the size of your family, you can field your own basketball team. Or volleyball. Or baseball. Or soccer. The physical exercise does a body good, and the games give ample opportunity to practice good sportsmanship among other players who are held to the same standard.
Contrary to what “Zero Population Growth” proponents will tell you, demographic declines are causing deeply troubling problems for societies worldwide, which is why many countries (Germany, Japan, and Austrailia, to name just a few) are now actually paying people to procreate. Big families are simply ahead of the curve.
While pregnancy keeps you looking young (think thick, glossy hair and glowing complexion), the children themselves keep you feeling young. It’s a wonderful thing to see the world through the eyes of a child, so filled with awe and excitement over each new discovery. Their energy, enthusiasm, and laughter are infectious.
One Less Excuse
Being open to pregnancy allows couples to enjoy intimacy as God intended. No frantic search for a misplaced diaphragm. No mad dash to the drugstore when you run out of condoms. No having to compensate for the fact that the Pill completely decimates a woman’s libido. Just blessed spontaneity (although regularly scheduling time for said spontaneity is highly recommended).
No Sour Milk
In a house full of kids (especially teenaged boys), food seldom lasts long enough to go bad. That’s a plus! You can buy in bulk without fear of spoilage. And as an added bonus, dinner conversation never drags with so many different personalities contributing to it.
Our kids absolutely love babies and are always clamoring to hold our newest addition. As a result, they can all handle infants very comfortably and capably — experience that will come in handy someday when they start having kids of their own. As an added bonus, our big guys have discovered that nothing attracts attention from the opposite sex more effectively than toting around a new baby brother or sister (otherwise known as a “chick magnet”).
Best Foot Forward
Not only do children help refine their parents’ character qualities, but they polish one another, as well. Siblings have a way of knocking off one another’s rough edges, so they’re less likely to make fools of themselves in public. Corny jokes and lame pranks can be tested (then reworked as needed or altogether abandoned) at home, where the stakes are lower and the audience more forgiving.
Empty Nest Postponed
When you are blessed with many children, you don’t have to give up all your favorite things about one stage of life to enjoy all the great things about the next. You’ll still have little ones at home to cuddle even after first ones move away. That’s a happy distraction during what would otherwise be a bittersweet time. Also, studies show that the older a couple is when their last child leaves home, the more likely their marriage will survive the transition.
I could go on (and on and on), but I’ll stop there. What are your favorite things about having children? Do you plan to have any more? Don’t you know what causes that? Do I need to buy you a TV?