I have wanted a big family for as long as I can remember. My mom has pictures of me at three-years-old laying my “kids” down for naps, ten baby dolls all in a row. I only grew up with one brother and we didn’t have many friends who had large families, so I’m not sure where the desire came from. But it has always been there and became even stronger when I met my husband, who also wanted a large family. We were those crazy 22-year-olds who had only been married for a year when we started trying to grow our family.
Almost eight years into marriage, we have five kiddos through birth and adoption: Emilee (8), Gabe (5), John Braxton (4), Beau (3), and Maggie, who will be here in just a few days! They are beautiful, hilarious, energetic, and joyful kids and I cannot believe that God chose me to be their mom. We get lots of stares, too many unfiltered comments to count, and lots of questions wondering if they are all ours–Yes, Linda, they are all ours!
Many of our days are long and exhausting, I lose my temper a lot, and the noise level is always high. The laundry piles are more like mountains and I am completely out of energy at the end of each day, but we have found many beautiful aspects to having a big family.
Our kids are never alone.
One of my favorite things about having five kids is that there is always someone with them. They are never left wondering what to do and they are never without a buddy to talk to. They have built-in best friends that fill their days with adventure and conversation. I know that this aspect of a big family will present challenges down the road, like when we have five teenagers under one roof. But I hope that the growing relationships they are forming with their siblings at a young age will mold how they interact and lean on each other in the future.
There is no end to the laughter.
If there’s anything we have learned with our large family, it’s how to have fun. Between flatulence, silly jokes, crazy stunts, and large imaginations, the laughter is never-ending. Even when one person is having a bad day, there are six other people in the house to boost their spirits and bring them joy. Some days, it’s the laughter that keeps us from losing our minds. Other days, it’s just icing on the cake. Either way, it’s making our days memorable and keeping us young.
We are learning the art of compassion.
With five kids under the age of eight running around one house, lots of accidents happen. On any given day, someone has gotten a splinter because they didn’t put shoes on like they were told, someone else has spilled their milk all over the floor, another has stepped on a Lego in the overflowing toy room, and yet another got her feelings hurt because one of her brothers didn’t want to play what she wanted to play.
The opportunities to model how to truly care for and tend to the needs of others presents itself over and over and over again. Our kids definitely haven’t mastered the art of compassion, nor have their parents, but we see so many glimpses of understanding as they stop what they’re doing to check on their brother, hug their sister, and help their tired momma clean the floor for the tenth time in one day.
We experience diverse personalities right in our own home.
I’m pretty sure I have at least half of the Enneagram personality types living under my roof. Each member of our family has a very unique personality that sets each of us apart from the others. This is a huge advantage to our kids on most days, because they complement each other well and add their own expertise and value to the family. Other days, it causes quite the ruckus as they butt heads on how to solve a problem.
These opportunities, though not always enjoyable, are building their abilities to communicate and work with people who are different from them. Day in and day out they are surrounded by someone who doesn’t agree with them, and that’s okay. It’s not only okay, but it’s also good. Because, hopefully, one day, they will become adults who can interact and work with all types of people.
Do you have a big family or did you grow up with one? What aspects of a large family do you love?