Big families

I grew up in a family with four children, so that always seemed like the perfect family size to me. I loved all of the noise in our house. And, as the youngest, I remember how lonely I felt when my siblings all went to college and left me behind!

Our family always ate dinner together. And most days we even ate breakfast together before we all took off, walking to school.

Now that I’m pregnant with my fourth, I’m often surprised by the reaction people show me. I still think four children is a fairly common family size. But people often react with surprise, awe, or dismay when they find out we are expecting our fourth.

They say something along the lines of, “Wow! You are a lot braver than I am!”

I have at least five friends in my life who each have five children, and they tell me they are pretty much considered off the charts. I mean, once you pass four children, you really have to think about the logistics of providing beds, clothing and carseats for that many kids. Even the average minivan won’t seat seven people.

For those who have six or more children, the reaction is that they are venturing into the land of circus act. (This isn’t MY opinion, but what I hear.)

And anything more than that is pretty much grounds for a TV reality show, a traveling musical act or a roving band of minstrels.

Personally, I have always been jealous of people with uber-large families. One of my first friends in grade school was the third child in her family. As the years passed, her family continued to grow until they had eight children.

I loved going to their house. The lived in a two-bedroom house. Their industrious father had converted the garage into a family room. He had created two extra large bedrooms in the attic, complete with a closet that allowed kids to crawl from the girls’ bedroom on one side to the boys’ bedroom on the other.

The physical environment of their house was definitely no where near perfect. But I always felt so warm and cozy to be surrounded by so many young people laughing, playing and running around.

In high school, I attached myself to my friend, Lynn, who is the youngest of nine children. Most of her siblings had moved out of their 100-year-old home, but people always seemed to be coming and going. In fact, so many people seemed to come and go that sometimes I could walk in the front door and hang out for a while before anyone even noticed I was there. I always loved that feeling.

A few weeks ago, we got to see a family of 12 children, who travel around the country performing blue grass. Each of the children could play one or more musical instruments, ranging from guitar to banjo to fiddle to bass. And, of course, everyone in the family could sing.

How does that happen? These parents believed they were “called” by God to have as many children as he wanted to give them. Was their reward that all of them would be healthy and musically talented?

I have to admit that I have never watched either of the TV shows of the two most famous large families in America today. Since we canceled our cable subscription, we no longer get that channel.

But I think I will have to start watching them this winter on the Internet. I know the Duggars get a lot of criticism for having so many children. But not from me.

I will probably look on with envy, wishing I could come over for dinner.

How about you? Do you have a perfect family size in your mind? Do you envy people with larger families or do you think they must be crazy?

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  1. Hi… I always wanted 2 kids – a boy & a girl – had them that way & we're complete. I grew up with 1 brother too so that could be part of it. My Mom grew up in a family of 8 (triplet brothers & 1 sister, then a step brother & 2 step sisters) – the family get togethers on that side were lots of fun! I'm not sure I envy those with more kids, kind of admire them for the patience they must have (especially on the days when I don't have any) I used to catch the one show on TV mostly cuz their kids were really close in age to ours – it was freaky to imagine 6 Morgan's running around & 2 Carson's… shivers… whoa… the Duggars freak me out… way too many!Enjoy your 4 in a few more weeks!!Laurel

  2. I always wanted 6 kids when I was growing up. Of course, as an adult your opinion changes a bit. I still would love to have 4 kids. Doctor's told me that I had to stop at 3. Of course, I feel blessed with 3… but always wonder. Love watching the Duggars. She is simply amazing. Do those kids ever fight? I only have 3 and it feels like a house of cats and dogs! Hope you last 4 weeks go fast!

  3. Like others I always thought I would like to have 3 or 4. However, God gave me 2. I love my 2 and I am happy with where we are in our life, and closer to having them gone than babies and I am ok with that as well. One of my closest friends has 5 in a 1200 sq ft house and I wonder how at times. It is certainly not my place to judge how anyone else conducts their family. Can't wait to "meet" your new little one.

  4. Wow…I wouldn't have guessed that people liked to come over…and I was kind of embarrassed to have a large family (assuming that you are talking about our family and didn't have another friend other than cindy who was the third of eight who had a closet that you could crawl through to go to the other bedroom).

  5. I wouldn't trade my youngest of nine status for the world! And having a sister with six girls has always been a great way to shock people. I always look forward to any kind of family gathering (circus) and I have mixed feelings when my kids say something like "Which one is Uncle Stan?" I think it's funny and kind of sad. How could they not know? They just get a little confused. (They actually do know who their Uncle Stan is now) When I had my first born, I knew I was not equipped for more than three or four. I still get a womb ache when I hear an itty-bitty doing that newborn cry in the store.BUT, my youngest of nine status has allowed me to be an aunt since I was five, and the babies just keep on coming! Two due this Christmas! :)Lynn

  6. I'm youngest of five, married to a #2 of five and about to birth my fifth within the next three weeks. :)AND I'm someone who loves solitude and alone time, so go figure!At the same time, you are going to busy in this life, so doesn't it make sense to be busy about something with eternal significance? I am glad I've been able to have all the kids we have wanted to have; I know plenty of folks who couldn't and I think that's a sort of wistfulness that never fully departs.And yes, the anti-large family bias in today's world is shocking to me. And sad. Thanks for your post celebrating the blessings of many children!Blessings, Holly

  7. Doug… Didn't I pretty much live at your house for a while? It seemed like there were so many people to play with so it was always fun. (I'm sure it got old living there full time.) Thanks for the comment… had no idea you were reading!Lynn… I'm so proud of myself every time I can name all of your siblings in order!Thanks, everyone, for the comments. It's really interesting to hear how differently people feel on this issue. I watched the Duggar's last night and was kind of bored. I'm sure their life isn't as perfect as they make it appear, with their Swiffers and all. =]

  8. The Duggars are like modern day Waltons. I loved that show as a kid and I love watching 18 kids and Counting show every week. Kate plus Eight is my favorite show. Both Moms are inspiring to me on days when I feel like laying on the couch.I especially love Michele's sweet spirit and the tone of her voice with that little laugh of hers.

  9. We have 4 kids and I love the sound of a house full of teenagers laughing and visiting. It does get chaotic sometimes and I have been known to 'lose it' but even in the chaos I have had friends from small families say they love the 'feel' of our home. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

  10. As the oldest of 5 (and even back then our family was considered a bit big), I love the noise and activity of a house with multiple children. And I'm like Holly – I like quiet and solitude, go figure! There's just something inside me that sorta feels sad to see tiny families with only one to two kids. It seems lonely. Then again, maybe that's a throwback to the seven years I spent as an only child.Given a husband who's one of two, having three kids was the magic number for us. Full and busy enough for me, but small enough for him.

  11. As a personal friend of yours with 5 children, I have to say that isn't what I planned. But I will say that God's plans are so much bigger and better than my own. So, yes, that is the perfect size for me.

  12. I'm the first of six, and it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I'm just not sure I could do that myself – my mom is wonder-woman and I don't know that I have the skills she does!

  13. In my extended family, my Dad had the least amount of children at 3. His sister had 9, another had 11 and another had 5. He grew up as the second youngest of 11 himself. He loved having a big family, always someone around if you needed anything. I would love to have a bigger famiy, but know that we are only having one more. It would be amazing to have that closeness in my kids.

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