Being a mom is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wish I could say that it gets easier, and I have to admit that in some ways it does, but it also gets harder. Like, so much harder. And the more kids you have, the more challenges you face. I can tell you, first hand, that having five kids is definitely not for the faint of heart. So when I hear parents share their small family struggles I can't help but get, you know, kind of mad. Like, everything is relative and, yes, it's difficult for all of us, but my dude: you have no idea what "difficult" really means.
Sometimes having a huge family is just as hard as it sounds, which is to say it's really damn hard. It makes me think that the struggles small families face are kind of, you know, adorable. Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that life as a mom is challenging regardless of your circumstances. I remember the hell that is having a baby who won't sleep, a toddler who throws epic tantrums in target, and the hectic life of morning routines, bedtime, and everything in between.
But now that I'm a mom of five, some of those small family struggles seem silly, and even a little overblown. I can tell you that, looking back, I didn’t know the true definition of tired until I tried, unsuccessfully, to put five kids to bed simultaneously. Managing a solitary toddler's social and extracurricular schedule sounds like a damn pleasure cruise now that I have to manage to get five kids where they need to be on a daily basis.
This isn't me having regrets about the size of my family. There are a lot of benefits to having as many kids as I do. My life is full of joy and noise and love, and in a way that is truly fulfilling. But, sometimes, I really miss the “chaos" of having one kid. Sweet little naive me had no idea what chaos really was, and sometimes I yearn for that kind of blind optimism and naïveté. So, while I always try to feel empathy or find some words of wisdom for my mom friends of one or two kiddos, on the inside I can’t help but chuckle a little at how easy they have it... relatively speaking.
Eating At A Restaurant
Taking a kid to eat at a restaurant is always a gamble. You hope and pray that they will find something they like on the menu, and then you hope and pray you all can make it until dinner is served without suffering through some seventh-circle-of-hell tantrum.
But when you have five kids, the odds of things going off without a hitch are decidedly not in your favor. I actually miss the days of walking a solitary baby around a restaurant, as if it was the most embarrassing thing in the world. Because I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it can be much, much worse.
Bedtime struggles are the worst. Not only have you been waiting all day for a single moment of peace and quiet, but after a long day you're tired too... and everything is worse when you're tired.
Now imagine that feeling multiplied by five. That is my life, people. When one kid drifts off, another will inevitably wake up. When one kid falls asleep, another will need a drink of water or a bedtime story or to be re-tucked in because their covers have magically been kicked off their tiny bodies. There have been more than a few evenings when I've longed for the days when I only had one child wake me up in the middle of the night.
Going On Vacation
"Vacation" is rarely a vacation when you're a mom. It's exhausting to try to be the family's cruise director 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for however long you've managed to carve out time to spend as a family. So while vacations are "fun," they're hardly a break.
But when you have a big family, it's exponentially harder to take your family on vacation, and so much more expensive between hotel suites, eating out, and admission tickets.
Buying A House
While all of my friends are buying the "forever" homes, my husband and I are stuck doing endless DIY projects to make sure our house can continue to meet our growing family's needs. Honestly, we can't afford to buy a big enough house to accommodate us all.
As soon as your kids get old enough for swimming lessons, t-ball, soccer practice, or whatever, life gets hectic. I honestly had no idea just just how busy live could be, until I had four kids in school and extracurricular activities. Most days I am pretty much a chauffeur and cheerleader... with a toddler strapped to my back. To be honest, if I only had one kid to shuttle around I wouldn't know what to do with all of my free time.
I remember my panic and fear, wondering when my kids would crawl, talk, walk, and finally pee on the potty. I worried when they were behind my friends' kids and thought that I was, somehow, failing them as a mom.
Then I had a houseful of kids and realized that each and every one is different from their older siblings and meeting milestones on their own schedule. I chuckle a bit when I think about the lists of questions I asked their doctor at each appointment.
My oldest child hated bath time... with a passion. It was always so stressful to hear her scream, that I honestly became one of those moms who only bathed her kid when it was absolutely necessary. Now that I've had to cajole and convince five kids to bathe in one evening, though, I roll my eyes a bit when I think about how hard I thought bath time with one kid was.
I used to love taking my kids to the movies and watching their faces light up with wonder and joy at seeing whatever film we paid to watch on the big screen. Now that we have a big family, however, it's impossible to agree on one movie and have it be age-appropriate and appealing for everyone. Gone are the simple worries of a toddler having a meltdown in the theater. Now I have a whole other, seemingly never-ending list of worries to sort through.
Bumps & Bruises
When I was a mom of one I called the nurse line on a weekly basis. On any given day you could find me freaking out about a fall, fever, or runny nose. I was that mom posting pictures of her kid's diaper rashes in mom groups on Facebook.
Now, I am way calmer about such things, and try to be a voice of reason for my new-parent friends.
I used to go all out for my kids' birthdays, planning for weeks, if not months, and hosting 30 plus people for an elaborate birthday party each year. I have to admit that I am kind of over birthdays. I mean, I still make cakes and get my kids presents, but I am so not going to stress out or pay for an expensive party for each kid's birthday, every year. That's like a hundred days of totally unnecessary stress I'm not going to add to my life.