When I was a kid I used to love when my family spent a weekend afternoon visiting my Uncle’s house, because he had five kids, all older than me. Three of my cousins really enjoyed playing with my brother and me, and I remember that my cousin Mark used to say he was planning a “kids party” for the two of us- and he would think up games for us all to play and he would award us prizes and I just loved all of that. To me, my Uncle’s house always seemed festive- like a party…but I think to my Mom and Dad it felt more like a place that was crazy and out of control! During the holidays, I always loved big family dinners with lots of food, lots of people, lots of conversation, and dare I say it- lots of chaos. And any holiday get together that my family hosted that didn’t have lots of people and noise… just didn’t feel like a party!
But even with these happy childhood memories, it’s not like I can say that I always wanted a large family of my own….. heck, when Steve and I were dating we weren’t even sure at the time that we were going to have kids…. all of that two income-no kids, self-indulgent lifestyle was really quite a lot of fun! But as our relationship progressed, and we decided to get married, we both just knew that a baby wouldn’t be far behind. And from there we quickly moved from… if one baby is this amazing- let’s have two…. and then, why not three….. and then once you have three, how much harder can a fourth little one be…. so why not five….. and how about six? And that’s how we ended up with six kids spaced a little more than 5 years apart!
So now I live in the house that is loud and crazy and chaotic. Most of the time, that noise just feels like the background music of my life… other times it makes me nutty, and during those times when it is quiet- I end up hunting around the house to see if anyone is “up to something”… because quiet is not always a good thing! In the busyness of it all, it is not always easy to remember to stop, to take note of what’s going on, and reflect on this incredible family that Steve and I created.
The biggest reason why I love having a large family- is all of the togetherness it brings. My kids really get along well with each other, they enjoy each other’s company- and seek each other out to talk to and to play with. This is not to say that they don’t love hanging out with their same-aged friends at school and at after-school activities… but when we are home- rarely is someone begging to call up a friend or go on a playdate- they are generally happy to hang out with each other. And the cool thing is- there are lots of variations in how they all group up with one another.
My son Jack loves playing with the younger three kids- and when I watch him do this, I can’t help but think back to my cousin Mark declaring that it was time for a “kid’s party”. Jack will get out board games or get everyone together on their DSs to play Minecraft (somehow they all link up?). When I declare that it is time for everyone to go outside and play- he is the first one to figure out some sort of outdoor game for them to all play together- whether it’s the Ninja Course in our backyard or setting up a field hockey game in the driveway. I love to peek out the kitchen window and see Spencer and Kyle playing basketball and talking (it was exactly what I pictured when we gave the hoop to the kids a few years back).
Since every child in our house shares a bedroom with a sibling, every one has someone to talk to after Mom and Dad have declared it “lights out”. While there are plenty of nights that I am still asking them to go to sleep long after I put them to bed, there is a part of me that loves to overhear their snippets of conversation and know that they really love each other and love to talk to each other.
My kids feel a part of something bigger, and know that they will always have this family in their lives to lean on. I explain to my kids that they will have many friends over the course of their lives… but friends can change as you grow up and move on to new endeavors. Family is forever. My kids know that Steve and I both think of our own brothers as our friends and how important they are to each of us.
Selfishly, I love to care for all of them….. I love to cook big dinners and watch it all disappear. I love to go around the table at dinnertime and hear each one share a story about their day. I love it when we all work together to clear the table, clean up the kitchen, and start getting things ready for the next day. I love to snuggle up in bed and hear what’s on their minds, and I adore all of the hugs and kisses goodnight.
Yep- having a large family is perfect for me. It’s loud and it’s messy….. and I wouldn’t have it any other way.