I love love love babies and kids and have always wanted to be a mother.
In college at BYU my roommate said that I should major in “kids,” and I SO wished that was possible. Everyday my freshman year I passed by the preschool on campus and saw little hand print pictures and longed to be a part of that. When I learned that I could, I became an Early Childhood Education major. It was so much fun! I learned so much about teaching kids, was actually able to work with kids at the preschool, and had a total blast. But by the time I was ready for student teaching, I had two kids of my own and it was going to be way too much for this aspiring stay-at-home mom. So I changed my major to Marriage, Family and Human Development and I graduated with a BS in that.
I got married at 18 and had 2 kids by 21.
Now that I’m 36 we have 5 kids. I wish we had more but it didn’t happen that way. Since I have previously wanted to have as many as 15, you’d think that having more would be a no-brainer for us. But there is another factor to throw into the mix, and that is my health. Both physical and mental. The biggest factor is that I was told my uterus couldn’t have another baby. So there, we’re done. But the reason there are big gaps in between some of our kids (seven years between numbers four and five), is because I just couldn’t handle having more right away. Suffering from depression and anxiety made having kids (though I love them dearly and wanted a ton of them) so much more difficult.
All moms (and all people, for that matter) deal with anxiety and depression to some extent, maybe even a lot. But like many people out there, I had it so badly that it was incapacitating. I would get so anxious that I couldn’t go to bed because I was too busy checking doors to make sure they were locked, or just being scared in general. On the flip side, sometimes I’d sleep almost all day because every time I thought of all my inadequacies and all the things I had to do, I’d completely shut down.
Sometimes I think I’m crazy that with my mental illness I would still want to have more kids.
But my mental illness is not the same thing as my personality, which means that as much as my own kids stress me out, and I will not be able to have 15 of them, I still want more. It’s complicated.
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Years ago I read a book called, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, and it was so encouraging! I realized that I am not crazy for wanting a big family, I’m just feeling too guilty about my inadequacies. You don’t have to be the perfect parent and your kids will still turn out fine. To an extent, your kids will turn out to be who they are going to be regardless of what you do. Obviously abuse and/or neglect can ruin a child, and we do affect our kids for better or worse. But each kid comes to us with a certain personality and always has free will whether we teach them right or not. Even the perfect parent, God Himself, has evil children.
But the fact is that most kids turn out to be decent people and there’s not much we can do to make them much better or worse.
According to this book, a little TV time for the kids, “me time” for you, and an enforced “nap time” until they’re 6, isn’t going to hurt, and may even help a ton. Apparently, kids care more about having happy, de-stressed parents than having them at their beck and call or even at every little league practice.
The author of the book, Bryan Caplan, says that we should think, not of how many children we can handle NOW, but of how many grandkids we want to have in the future.
The diaper changes, sleepless nights and potty training are only temporary, but grandkids will last a lifetime. Of course all this should be taken in moderation. You shouldn’t have more kids than you can really handle and afford, but if you take good care of yourself, and worry less about ruining your kids, maybe you can have more than you thought you could, and thus have more fun in the future with all those little grandbabies!
Six years ago I definitely could not handle having another baby, but over time things got easier, some of my health problems were remedied, and I was able to have our #5 a year and a half ago.
Even though the kids drove me nuts with the screaming and whining when they were little, I would look at this picture of my family with four kids after a game of “Flashlight Hide-and-Go-Seek” and think, who wouldn’t want to have this much fun, and wouldn’t it be even more fun with more kids?