Lately I've been thinking I really would like five children. I think it's because I DVR and watch Seventh Heaven all the time. Although, come to think of it, they end up with SEVEN children. So maybe it's your influence?
At what point did you decide to have a big family? Now that we have ONE I just feel like I want to have a little one around at all times.
When we first got married, there was no question that we wanted children. We believe children are a gift from God, and that His plan is for one generation to pass on the knowledge of God to the next generation.
But then there was the question of how many: Dennis came from a family of three, so he wanted three. I came from four kids, so I wanted four. So that already put us in the counter-culture group by wanting more than the standard "one boy and one girl."
But going to school sidelined those plans for the first eight years of our marriage (here's a summary). So by the time we were ready for our first, not only was I fearful that I would never get pregnant, I had obsessed about babies to such a degree that we had unbelievably unrealistic expectations of parenthood. I was surprised at how hard it was!
However, God is good. It’s funny, because as bad at baby-managing as I started off, I always had that same feeling kittyhox had. Once we got through the first few months, and I started to get into a groove, I just loved having a baby around. When I found out I was pregnant when Allie (now 14) was only 9 months old, I was actually excited.
We had our moments of insanity, we had financial difficulties, we moved, we had our communication issues, I was working part time and hating it, but even through all that, there was a thread of joy that held us together and made us hopeful about the future.
By the time Neal (now 13) was two and Allie was three, I was ready for our third (here’s a post that explains that a bit).
Here’s where the big family thing started coming in. Two things were happening: (1) I needed some serious help managing my home with three kids, and (2) we needed parenting help.
I read a lot of James Dobson, which gave me the courage to train and discipline my kids. We were also in a Sunday school that talked about Biblical parenting. Even though this tended to fuel some unrealistic expectations for having "perfect" kids, this foundation gave us an indispensable framework for obedience that made having three kids in one house possible.
Then somewhere along the way, someone introduced me to Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s books and materials. I found myself drawn to the “realness” of their family life with six kids. I remember reading once that their boys got into a tussle and made a hole in the wall. I also read where they were at a restaurant on the way to a conference where they were supposed to speak to parents about Christian parenting, and they felt like failures because their kids were all fighting!
At first I was shocked that “Christian leaders” could have kids that were not perfect, but the more I read, the more I realized this is the kind of example I was looking for. They held the same biblical beliefs as I did, but they were flexible, took things in stride, and (most importantly) were FUN! I liked reading stories of the interactions they had with their kids (whether positive or negative) and I felt like, “I can do this.”
When I was looking for household help, I read every organizing book I could get my hands on. Most made me feel like a failure, but one made its way into my heart: Bonnie’s Household Organizer. I still love the way Bonnie McCullough talks about her kids – five of them - she weaves tenderly training them in with staying on top of the laundry. Also somewhere in that search, I came across a book called Raising a Large Family by Katherine Schlaerth. I think it’s out of print now, but she had me hooked on the idea of having lots of kids (which, in our culture, is three or more) in her introduction: “It's the best thing we never planned.”
And that’s enough for today. I’ll talk more about this later this week. I'm supposed to be househunting, remember?
I especially echo Barbara's first line: "Well, I'm tired a lot."