Thursday, February 9, 2012

Love Comes In All Sizes

Welcome to the first Family Size Blog Carnival!
This post was written for inclusion in the Family Size Blog Carnival hosted by Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling and Patti at Jazzy Mama. Today our participants share their decisions on family size and whether or not to grow their families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

"How Can You Have Too Many Children? That's Like Saying You Have Too Many Flowers" ~ Mother Teresa

I have always loved babies and children.  My childhood was surrounded by aunts having babies, the births of my siblings, and hours of running around with scads of kids from my neighborhood.  I wanted lots of interesting things in life; to travel around the world, to learn new languages, to write a book, to work in an ambulance, and to have lots of children.  A life without kids would have felt odd.  Too quiet.  Bland, like toast-which is great!-without jam (which is greater!).  I definitely wanted lots of jam.

When we were dating, Brent and I discussed dreams for a family pretty early on.  I wanted to be certain we were on the same page when it came to having children, because it was so important to me.  I didn't just want to have a kid or two.  I wanted lots.  I wanted to be surrounded by story books and sticky limbs and lots of lovely personalities and big brown eyes.  Fortunately, we were on the same page.  Very fortunately, as it turns out, since about forty seven seconds after we got married, I got pregnant.  Oops.  And then two years after Ayden was born, and about forty seven seconds after we applied to adopt overseas (thinking it could take up to three years), we got matched with Matthew.  Yikes.  Very rapidly, we were parents of two small children, and it felt quiteoverwhelming.  All that jam suddenly seemed rather excessive.  And not always all that sweet.

Okay, maybe lotsa sweet

But even with all the chaos, all the noise and crap to clean up and poop on the wall, the times I locked myself in my closet just to hear myself THINK and have a break from all the need my kids had, I knew I wanted more children.  I was wrestling with a mental illness I didn't know I had, struggling to balance school and work and two smart, funny, noisy, energy sucking children, and it all felt so overwhelming.  I knew I wanted more, but I also knew I wasn't ready.  Matthew wasn't ready, either; he wrestled with allergies and chronic ear infections, speech and language problems, difficult behaviour, developmental delays, and wild amounts of energy.  Our relationship was still developing, and I knew that adding another child would be too much for our thin love, just yet.  So we waited.

When Matthew was four and Ayden was five, we were settled.  Matthew was in preschool, Ayden was in kindergarten, and we had more joy, more hysterical wrestling, more cuddles, than stress and struggle, so we knew we were ready.  And so we had Riley.

Matthew, Ayden, and Riley

For awhile, it was full in our house.  Our bed was full, our hands were full, our time was so full with the million tasks of taking care of three little boys, and we were not sure if we had room for another baby.  Riley was a remarkably easygoing baby.  He never cried.  He didn't feel it was necessary much of the time, and when he did, it was easy to fix.  Milk, diaper, sleep.  If those three didn't work, I would give him a bath and he would instantly settle.  I was so grateful for a peaceful baby, because it took awhile to settle into a rhythm with three children, because we were always outnumbered.  I was wrestling with post partum anxiety and I rarely slept.  We were ridiculously happy, and ridiculously busy, drowning in unfolded laundry piles and wading through an ankle deep mess of toys in our livingroom.  Three boys ate up every scrap of energy we had!

Two years later we started talking about another baby.  We had three healthy, growing, smart, funny boys; were we tempting fate by trying again?  Balance and rhythm in a large family are hard won, and adding another little person would threaten to shove us off kilter again.  Our plan had always been to have four children, but were we nutter?  Raising kids is hard work.  The assembly line of needs, the fact that someone is always hungry, the struggle to impart empathy, good character, and a strong sense of self in each child, it is impossibly hard work.  But oh, so joyful.  These little people in my life, peeing on my bed and spilling coke on the dog, are such bright lights that I have difficulty believing that war and hatred can coexist with them in the world.  And they smell delicious.  And so we had another.

Amarys, March 2011

Four sweethearts on a couch

Don't we have cute babies?

And we are done.  We have two and two, everyone has a buddy (including momma and daddy), we have boys and a girl, and (most days) a unique rhythm that is actually so much easier to keep steady than when we only had two.  Recently someone asked me if I find I don't pay much attention to my littlest baby, because she's my fourth, and I nearly snorted my drink out my nose.  She gets so much love and attention from the five other members of her family that she has never had a lonely minute in her entire life.   If she's not in my arms she's dancing with Matthew, or having a baby talk 'conversation' with Riley, or is backing her soft little butt onto Ayden's lap for a cuddle.  She's not lacking in anything.  Every day I'm so glad I know each of my kids.  They sparkle with magic, and I'm fortunate to have all of them in my life.  Poop, jam, laundry and all.


Visit City Kids Homeschooling and Jazzy Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Family Size Blog Carnival!

Please take some time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants below:

  • The Perfect Family The family at Living Peacefully With Children isn't perfect, but the size is just right for least for now.
  • Family Size Carnival Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses how she loves the extremes of being happily child-free for life to being a mom of several. And on knowing when her family is just the right size.
  • Is Adoption for Me? Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares why she would consider adoption as the socially responsible way to have a large family.
  • Getting Used to Having Kids Lauren at Hobo Mama went from "probably one, maybe two" to wanting a handful, but not without some major struggles and soul searching along the way.
  • Magic Number For a while, Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales has wondered what the magic number will be for their family, but now thinks she's finally settled on an answer.
  • How Did You Get That Size Jorje explains how she "chose" her family size and why they aren't planning to grow again on Momma
  • Family Size On A Per Kid Basis Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how plans change as families grow.
  • More Babies: How, When, Why Joella at Fine and Fair writes to her daughter about when, how, and why she might get a sibling.
  • Family Size Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she has no idea what size her family will end up being; though she used to be sure, a few factors have recently come up to change everything.
  • Thy Will Be Done CatholicMommy hasn't decided how many children she'll have. And she never will. Because, you know, she's Catholic.
  • Sanity and Health Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about sanity and health considerations when deciding on her family's size.
  • Love Comes In All Sizes Melissa at White Noise and Mothers of Change shares her family's journey to becoming a family of six!
  • Family Size Liz at Homeschooling in Buffalo discusses how this carnival occurs less than two weeks after "closing up shop" by way of vasectomy.
  • Family Size Blog Carnival Billy, a single mother by choice, writes about the size of her family at My Pathway to Motherhood.
  • Creating Your Perfect Family Size Dr. Alan Singer shares insights from his new book, Creating Your Perfect Family Size.
  • Our Family Size You might not be surprised to learn that Patti at Jazzy Mama can't find any reasons NOT to have more babies.
  • Economics of Family Size Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling uses an economic cost-benefit analysis to determine her family's optimal size.


Jen said...

Love this. Love you. Love your family.

Kerry McDonald, M.Ed. said...

Melissa, thank you so much for participating in today's blog carnival!

I love seeing how families of four work, and you reinforced my feeling that in many ways mommying more kids is easier than mommying fewer. And I love the image of your littlest always getting attention from older siblings-- so sweet.

Thanks again for sharing!

-Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling

CatholicMommy said...

Reading this makes me want to have another baby RIGHTTHISMINUTE. :-) Thanks for this snapshot of a loving family.

lori said...

Great post, Melissa!

I'm super glad to see a blog carnival on this very timely topic.

Can't wait to read the other entries...between diaper changes and feedings, naturally.

I wonder if people just *know* they're done, as opposed to still longing for another child (even amid the crazy moments, just like you described). What about when the mama isn't done, but the papa thinks he is? I hope there are some entries about that.

Arpita And Jonathan said...

"And they smell delicious. And so we had another." Ha! Favorite line in the post.... among many! This is just beautiful, and your sticky jam covered babies are all so precious!! <3 Ignore me if this is too personal/ inappropriate, but I'm so curious... did you find it a big difference between being a 20-something mom to a newborn as opposed to a 30-something mom with a newborn? It's probably the thing that concerns me least about our situation, but as I'm coming up on my 29th birthday the thought of not having a baby before 30 is weighing on me more and more. I'm so scared of not having the energy by the time they do come along.

Christine Powell said...

Gorgeous family! I loved reading how it came about. Thanks for sharing this :)

melissa v. said...

Thank you lovelies!! This was a very fun carnival to participate in and it was so nice to walk down memory lane as far as how and why we grew our family...

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Aw, I love your story, and hearing how it all unfolded one kid at a time. I like hearing such good stories about big(gish) families! I'm with CatholicMommy in that it makes me want to have another now, lol.

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

Your story warms my heart. Thank you for sharing it with us.

And, I agree, that it gets easier with more somehow-easier than it was with 2 after those first intense times :)

Rob-o-SE-yo said...

I come from a family with four kids, and I always liked it.

I love the way you write about your kids. Every time.

Love: Rob

Terri said...

I loved this post but part of me wishes I had never read it - I was so sure I was stopping at 2 babies but now you make me want another!