Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Our youngest is finally out of diapers.
I’m not sure I can handle baby-mode again.
At last, we can sleep through the night.
I don’t want to give that up.
Now I can do a few things just for me.
Another baby would mess that up.
- - - -
Yep. Baby mode is hard.
Absolutely. Who wouldn’t want to sleep through the night?
And no kidding about that. Babies dominate your life.
Having four or more children is not the norm these days, so if you want to discover all the adventures of doing life differently, raising a large family guarantees you’ll be Different, no matter where you live or what you do for a living.
In two previous posts (here and here), I talked about the need to give up the pursuit of an easy life if you want to have a meaningful one. Nothing that matters is easy, but just because something’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Double-Trouble and More
Nancy and I have created lots of ways to make life hard—moved way out of town, become self-employed, attend a “different” church—but without a doubt, having a large family (we have eight children) is the hardest hard we’ve taken on. Yet it’s by far the most rewarding.
Perhaps there’s a connection.
We didn’t set out to have a ranch-size family (more about that on my About page), but I’m glad we made the decision before we got too deep in the child-raising trenches.
We made the open-to-many choice right after our first child was born. And reflecting on the growth of our family, I’m quite sure the best time to decide to do this particular Different is before you have a second young child in the house.
Two may well be the most difficult number to have, and besides all the malarkey about world overpopulation that gives people an excuse to stop at two, there’s a built-in difficulty factor that makes it a desirable stopping point as well.
“Just two” means both are young, means they’re both demanding, means they’re both in need of a lot of one-on-one attention from Mom and Dad.
Two young ones are tough on parents.
But letting the difficulty of life in the trenches dissuade you from future life with delightful grown children shouldn’t undermine your long-term prospects for an amazing family.
By the time #3 comes along, #1 is old enough to help. Even though parents are outnumbered with three young’uns in the house, the first-born makes a good assistant. And beyond that, it just gets better. (This assumes you’ve done enough astute training on the first two to refine them into potential helpers.)
And now, looking back from the standpoint of having children ages 18 to 33, I can say there’s nothing so wonderful as seeing eight adult children together who all enjoy each other. The reward comes through vivacious family gatherings and in watching siblings group and re-group for special times with each other.
Blessed by Hard
When we started doubting our two-maybe-three-child family plan, a notion stirred in us that children are a blessing—and we shouldn’t say no to God’s blessings.
After all, would we say no to a million dollars? And then another million after that? Hardly. Few people would. So, why do so many people say ‘no’ to blessings far more valuable than material riches?
We certainly weren’t raised to think this way. Nancy was the first of two children, and I was the third of three. Likely, I wouldn’t be here at all if my parents’ second child had been a boy, but I was lucky. I have two older sisters, so my parents needed to “try for a boy." Even so, if I’d been a girl, there probably wouldn’t be anyone after me. Which brings me to a crucial question about “stopping.”
Who are you keeping from having a life?
You can’t see them now, but if you look back later as we’re doing, you’ll see what you would have missed—and what they would have missed—if they’d never been born.**
And what do our now-grown kids think?
They think it was hard growing up in a large family, and some may not be sure they want to “do that” to their kids. But I dare say it wasn’t so hard that #4 thru 8 would rather not have been born at all than to endure life in a big family.
What’s more: Maybe it’s not bad to require something hard of our children if the end result for them is something precious like life itself. After all, just because something is hard doesn’t mean . . . well, you know where I’m going with that.
Is It Really about Money?
People often rationalize having only two or three because of the economic challenge of raising more. When we had only three children but another on the way, an acquaintance told me he couldn’t imagine having more than a couple of kids because he didn’t see how he could put more than two through college.
Hmm. . . . So, not being born is better than having to pay your own way through college or perhaps not even being able to go to college?
I suggested that even if he couldn’t put them all through college, they would rather be alive and not able to go to college on a “free ride” from Dad than to not be alive at all.
I suspect my fourth, a daughter who is right now paying her own way, is nevertheless glad we didn’t stop at three. After all, our first two were boys and the third a girl. We didn’t really need another daughter, right?
And overpopulation? World starvation? That happens because of political, economic, and war upheavals, not because the world can’t support so many people. In purely economic terms: The U.S. economy still depends on a growing population to increase its GDP.
So, if you’re still young enough to be on the path to a Different family, it might be time to rise above the terrible two’s that surround you and embrace the opportunity to bless yourself with the most rewarding Different you’ll ever do.
*Photo credit: Flora Westbrook from Pexels.
**See my post What’s Missing from Your Worldview?
†Photo credit: Tuca Bianca from Pexels.
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