Saturday, December 28, 2013

Did You Ask Your Child to Join Your Family Today?

I'm tired of hearing it from all sides. Whether people promote big families or warn against them, they all seem to agree on conditional living and deprivation as a necessary part of expanding the family.

It's frustrating to hear attachment parents. Often the scene is set, consisting of a new mom with one infant who is zealous about jumping at her every infant's cry and sure that the vague but exciting sound of non-punitive parenting is the right way to live.

She is quite sure, having just completed a few weeks out of a journey that lasts past 18 years (yes, Hon, 18 years is not the finish line, it's the marker for 1 part of a triathlon) that no one can have more than one child. Or at least, the children must be 3-5 years apart, minimum, to ensure each child is properly cared for and bonded.

In her whirlwind world filled with the contradictory pattern of parenting, of complete boredom overlain with streaks of anxiety and rushing, she can't possibly imagine another parent being attached to more than one. Secretly, some days, she worries she's not attached to the only one she has now!

It gets worse. Along come the moms with many. And for the purpose of this post, I won't define how many is many. It's dependent more on your culture than an actual number. For example, having grown up in a natural/homeschooling/Christian community, I don't think families are large until they reach 8 kids. Maybe 6 with multiples. My own brood of 4 is quite small in my mind. I have some large-family mom friends who are dancing because they only have 6 kids LEFT in the nest. But I digress.

Along come the moms of many. They've had a long trip. Most of them are first generation, meaning they've learned about healthy living and holistic parenting as they went along, changing things with each child and praying for forgiveness. With that comes the tough duty of breaking old habits and replacing ingrained conditioning. They are the ones who dug lines in the sand and then swept over them, life carrying them along, making concessions as they kept their heads above water. Attachment parenting? Bah, that's not only not for large families, that's detrimental!

Why, a kid needs to get roughed up, pushed out of place and reminded not to be selfish! As each of their children slid into the home run as a newborn, knocking the other children out of the limelight, cast to the side, quietly tucked into bed by someone else or maybe not at all, these mothers did what they could. Oh, yes, they did what they could and they did it with all the pounding, overflowing love a mother feels for her children. But they dare not consider it wasn't enough. So in their minds, it became beneficial.

Should you have another child? Should you add to your family? I don't know. I can't say I even care as I disagree with the question itself. We don't control the destiny of another person. Anyone who has fought infertility, loss, IVF failure etc for years can tell you this. Out of all the questions you ask about family size, do you ever turn to the darkness in the middle of the night and whisper, "Would you like to join our family?"

Little Person out you want to be part of our family?
Little Person, are you waiting?
Little Person, is that your voice in my heart?
Little Person, who are you?

In the family size and parenting method debate, everyone misses the truth about big families who parent intuitively. It's not about the parents. It's not about what we want. It's not about how good we are or how much money we make or how well researched we are on the method. A mom who asks what her children can do for her or if she has "enough" for her children has placed human limits on her family, limits that are felt in that family bond. A limit implies that only a measured amount of love is available.

Can she stretch that conditional love over 3 kids? What about 4? Maybe they can bring 5 kids in if they knock a few kids off the pedestal? It's good for them, after all.

Hey, I know! Bring in another child because you can use hand me downs. Have another child because you can make them take care of each other. Or alternatively, refuse to bring another child into your family because you can't give them new clothes. Restrict your family size because you want to care for each child one at a time. Whichever one floats your boat, you have to realize that they are two sides of the same coin.

No. To find out if another person is ready to be in your family, look instead to the unconditional love. Look instead to the cessation of limits. Feel good when your child is beautiful and smiling and the sun is casting a glow over the yard and your heart swells. But know the truth when the days are long and cold and your child is unlovable but you sweep her up and love her more.

Bask in the happiness of posting sweet newborn photos, of doing the right thing in a parenting topic, of cleaning and baking and playing house competently. Then know the truth when those things look dull and you turn instead to jumping in leaves and making fairy houses late into the night.

Look to when your heart fills, then overflows. Look for when you love, and then you groan that long, deep sound from within, like a woman at her birth, fully intent on her task, every cell in her body moving towards one directive. Do you hear that sound, when you reach your end but find one more unit of love, and then you dig and you dig and you realize there is no end to that unit and it's all flowing into one?

There is your next child.

No matter the number of children, let your heart overflow.


  1. I think I'm tired, not getting much sleep due to a 3.5 year old waking me a lot at night right now but I'm struggling to get the jist of this. I have no issue with anyone having any number of children, have 1 or 8, or whatever, as long as you can love, provide and parent them but I do feel it's unfair to be reverse critical of those of us who do plan and limit our family. We have two, we'd like one more but we have deliberately spaced them out (health reasons) and we know we can't afford more than 3 and at 37 I don't think my body would cope with more given I get severe HEG then bed refs inducing SPD each time and have severe arthritis issues. Maybe I'm reading what you meant wrong but why is it wrong for us to plan? I adore my children, they're my all, but is it wrong to not want more?

    1. I think what she's actually trying to say is forget the reasons either way your heart no matter the number needs to simply overflow with love and be ready to receive another child, If you know you don't want another child well.. that's up to you/ between you and God etc. I've known Guggie from Facebook for a while now and the very last thing she would be is judgmental. It's not about the number or planning or not planning it's the attitude.

    2. This blog post was addressing the various posts I've seen in my feed that go on to list "reasons" for having more children. I was trying to point out that no matter where we are in the mothering journey, parenting isn't a conditional relationship and shouldn't be based on a cold pro/con list of what your children can or cannot do for you. Hope that helps!

  2. I struggle with this a lot. I literally don't know anyone who both has a large family and parents them peacefully. My parents had six, but their method is to try to attachment parent all of them, get overwhelmed, and scream and spank everybody. Most large families I know are pretty strict. Meanwhile most peaceful resources assume you are dealing with one or two kids, not a lot. Parenting With Grace, which is a book I otherwise like, insists that you MUST leave three years between kids.

    I had my first two kids two years apart, and yeah, it was hard. I worry it pushed me to wean my first son too soon, that he never got to *choose* to be independent, that it's too hard for him to be a big brother. And yet, he and his brother get along so well, and he was so lonely before .... it felt like the right decision at the time.

    I was going to wait longer next time. But here we are, expecting again (oops), after only 18 months between pregnancies. I am honestly terrified. How can I give all of them everything they need without completely wiping out my own needs? I'm going to try not to push my younger son out of my arms the way I did the first time .... going to try to tandem nurse and meet his nighttime needs and all that .... but when am *I* going to sleep? When am I going to get to have a few minutes where no one's touching me? Am I going to lose my mind and just start screaming and yelling and hitting?

    Say a prayer for me. This motherhood thing is stretching me in ways I'm not sure I can handle.

    1. Oh my dear, you ARE overthinking it! Your kids will be fine! Don't feel like you are letting them down, you don't want them to be the baby for too long either ;) you can handle far more than what you think!