Raising An Unexpectedly Big Family: The Good, The Hard And The Amazing
Almost 13 years ago, my husband and I sat at the end of our hotel bed, looking over the jungles of Borneo, soaking up the last few moments of what had been the most amazing 10 days. It was the eve of our return home after our honeymoon, and we had been talking about our new lives together and what it all meant. We pondered what the future would bring, the adventures we would go on, the opportunities we would seize. We decided to write a letter to our future selves, to be opened on our 10th wedding anniversary wherever we might be. A time capsule one might say. There were questions about where we planned to travel, if we would move overseas, if we would build or renovate….exploring the million possibilities our new path could give us. Our eyes were wide and our dreams even wider. Coming up to the last question, we were unanimous in our answer.
“For our 10th wedding anniversary we would like to spend it in: a maternity hospital holding our 5th child in 8 years”.
We wrote Paris.
WEEEE WROOOOTE PAAAAAAARRRRRRIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSS.
We have a big family. We never planned to have a big family – both being the youngest in our own families, we didn’t really have a grasp on how much work kids could be. We understood nappies (not that we had ever changed one before) and we both loved baked beans which babies eat from like 2 months right? Turns out, we literally knew nothing. It was a learning curve like no other, and no sooner did we feel like we somewhat knew what we were doing, we were welcoming another. And then 2 more. And then another. And truth be told, despite the fact we would never have chosen to have a big family, we actually love it. But it is different.
Our house is mega fun. There is always something happening at our house. Better than that, there is always a good chance there is leftover birthday cake in our house. Screen time is not a big issue for us, because our kids are mostly outside. 5 kids means kids can play hide and seek, build cubbies, hide treasures and draw pirate maps…..it is busy. We have impromptu simon says, epic scooter stunts and the best nerf gun fights on the street. We work hard and we party even harder.
Failing. As a mum I fail, and believe me I fail at least 5x as much. It is really, really hard to stretch myself as a mother over my 5 children, and I take my hat off to anyone who has 6 or more. I don’t know how you do it. When my boys win awards at school, I try to be there to see it, but half the time I miss it as I am chasing after the little 3. I met my eldests son’s teacher halfway through Term 2, and when I say “met” I mean I had never seen her face before – I just simply have not had time. She alerted me to a problem I should have known about, which I didn’t, and I cried the whole way home. It’s hard enough being a mum to 5 let alone a good one. It’s hard and it’s humbling.
Not only do I fail, but my husband fails. I watch him fail, he watches me fail, and we have to navigate this incredibly intense season together, despite seeing the worst of each other on a daily basis. We have to extend grace and forgiveness to each other in a seemingly endless supply.
Perhaps one of the most amazing things about this journey are the people who have gathered around us. When we brought home our 5th, we found ourselves being carried by people who literally had no time themselves. Friends who have lots of kids, small kids, special needs kids, busy kids. Friends who had husbands who worked away, who ran small businesses, friends who were sick themselves, friends who were pregnant with twins, friends who were pregnant with their 6th, friends who were already up against it but stretched themselves that little bit further to help us. People who I would never have dreamed of asking for help suddenly started driving my kids to school, dropping off meals, coffees, lactation cookies, taking my twins out, sending messages at 3am to remind me I was loved. People who gave and gave and gave. We were humbled, and we were grateful. We could never have survived without them.
And so that’s it I guess. The big family life. It’s wild and it’s crazy and everything in between, but for us we count our blessings. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Connect with Conor via the following channels:
Conor is a mum of 5 and a wife to 1 and enjoys cutting her daughters sandwich into triangles only to discover she only eats squares now. She enjoys lukewarm coffees, deep conversations about Pokemon Ex Mega and playing Uno with kids that show no regard for the actual rules of the game. She is also the owner of Lava and Stone, lover of jewellery, passionate about essential oils and follower of Christ.