Friday, June 08, 2007

Large (ish) families: part 2

Okay so the reason I use the term "large-ish." Before becoming a part of the adoptive parents community (which is truly an honor btw), I thought a big family was 4 kids, and a huge family was 8 kids. No one had more than 8 kids, right????? (And the families with 8 kids were either Mormon or Catholic and usually homeschooled. Oh the joys of stereotyping.)

WELL may I just say that I now know a couple of families with more than 20 children? Nope, not a typo. The founder/head of our adoption agency for example has three birth children and adopted (I believe, I could be a little off) 18 children over the years. This woman is an all-around inspiration to me.

Anyway, now you can see why I don't feel really worthy of calling my family of four kids a large family, but most in our society probably consider that to be a lot of kids (and most days it feels like it is!)

I wanted to talk about my biggest fear in having a bunch of kids (besides the fear of losing my mind, which I probably already have!). I occasionally worry about not having enough love/attention to give each of my children as they get older. I don't want a child feeling like, Mom and Dad don't have time for me, don't care about me, etc. I want our family to feel close and I want to enjoy unique, individual relationships with each child. On the other hand I grew up an only child with parents who gave me plenty of attention, yet I remember those times as a teenager when you feel like nobody cares. So I don't think that is unique to kids in big families.

Maybe you already wonder how it's possible to properly love/parent/nurture so many so young at a time. How does it work? First, we don't do it perfectly. :) Second, we live a pretty darn simple life. The kids and I are home most of the time during the week (none of them go to preschool). Our simple outings are to Costco or Grandma's house or the nearby park. This summer Anna will be part of a weekly, 30 minute library program which I'm totally excited about. My kids play together and generally have a ball. I honestly don't get bored and I also feel like they do well with the structure and consistency that comes with the default of us being home, as opposed to living out of our car running lots of errands, eating fastfood and going to nonstop activities all the time.

(We do plan to send them to public school, so we won't be homeschooling. I used to want to homeschool and part of me still does, but I don't think so. I suppose that's another blog topic in and of itself!)

When Kaitlyn was born I mused that she was born into a completely different home than Anna was: Anna was born into a peaceful, calm environment, just her and Mom and Dad. Kaitlyn on the other hand was born into lots of noise, activity, and has to "share" us. BUT, then I saw how Biniam gently rocked her in her carseat when she was crying, saying "Shhh Kaitlyn, shhhh", or how Yosef kept attacking her with hugs, or the way Anna would pray every single meal/bedtime that Kaitlyn's foot would heal (she still does!), and insist on giving Kaitlyn a hug and kiss goodnight each night. And it occurred to me that little Kaitlyn was born to not just two loving parents but THREE adoring, doting siblings who think the world of her. What a lucky little girl!

(Will write some more about this whole big family thing.)


Becky said...

Family size is quite funny, I know people that have strong opinions on both sides.. ie large and small families. I just think for a mom that grew up as a single child you're very brave for wanting a big family. Most of us fall into in patterns of our family of orgins. Given our child count is zero, I don't feel like spreading my lack of knowledge. I will say if you want to start fireworks you should throw out your opinion of education:-) (ie. homeschool vs. private vs.charter vs. public!)

Brianna Heldt said...

Yes people definitely have the strong opinions on family size and such! It's funny, a lot of people assume I want several kids b/c I must have been lonely as an only child---soooo not the case! I was perfectly happy in my family, plus you can't guarantee that your kids will be close with one another anyhow.

Ah yes the big homeschool debate...maybe Troy should be a guestblogger on that one since he's done all that research!!!

shell said...

glad to know i wont have the only 'large family' in public school....they may be the only christians kids left! :)

Chandra said...

I loved the way you ended your post! It was put beautifully. I am one of eleven and their is definitely strength in numbers. I'd be lost without all my siblings. My fam is the best :). Your family is beautiful and I love to hear you may have more :)

Jeannett Gibson said...

I guess these posts beg the question of how MANY do you see yourself having at the "end" and when do you "plan" on introducing the next one? We've talked about this, but the interesting part of adoption is that you could have say 5 or 6 now...and then when they're all grown and in high school, you could have 5 more...since there aren't physical/biological factors to weigh in on the decision...

Brianna Heldt said...

Hmmm that's hard to say. I really do take seriously the idea of being emotionally available for my kids, I wonder if it's hard to know where that line is till you reach it? Like I said as of today, my four are plenty. I could see us ending up with as many as, say, 10 at the end? (Right now that sounds insane, but I'm just thinking like you said, you can continue doing it when your kids are grown.)

Of course all those huge mega sized families are probably chuckling about how 10 is not really THAT many!

How many for the Gibsons???

Emily said...

As a mom of 4 that was definitely done- told many people that in fact and hubby had a medical procedure to guarantee it:) Our youngest is almost 6 and we are in the process of adopting 2 from Ethiopia-- never say never right? The Lord often has plans different from our own!

I also said that I would never homeschool-- guess what? We have been at that for over 5 years now though I definitely don't think it is for everybody:)

Jacquelyn said...

I grew up as one of 3 and always envied my cousins. One aunt had 7 children, the other had 7 but her first two (twins) died in childbirth. Both Aunts have homeschooled them all while being pastor's wives. Aunt Loise loved every minute and even found time to run an at home business, she was always laid back and full of love and warmpth. The other aunt always seems stressed out whenever we see her, she is always tired and seems to rule the children with an iron fist (the kids aren't allowed to raise their voices even when having fun and playing). I guess the whole thing depends on how well you rely on the Lord and how supportive your husband is. (BTW if you want any more children you can have some of mine... ;)

Jeannett Gibson said...

How many for us? that's hard to say considering that we haven't even had our first...who knows, this little guy may seal the deal and be the only! Just kidding. I'm thinking three or four...which is funny, because we had always said TWO. So, who knows...?

Kristen Borland said...

haven't read part 1 yet, but already loving it. yea for large-ish families! i totally love your last point about kaitlyn being born to not just two loving parents but three doting siblings. that is so the truth! zeb and nehemiah have the most awesome bond (yea for having kids close together), and they absolutely most hug and kiss each other goodnight (also at nap time). with a big family, there are just more people to love and more people to count on. aren't you always surprised to learn you are capable of loving each new child even though you thought you couldn't possibly love any more than you already do?

Life in Fitzville said...

Just jumping in here... another large family who is in public schools. We have 7 (and are Catholic... go stereotypes! LOL) and 6 are in school now. No preschool for any of them though.

We didn't set out to have a large family. But I had had kids quickly and close together, and they were just so darned fun! Our most recent addition came through adoption, and now we are looking to adopt again in the future.

Lisa Leonard said...

I loved being part of a big family (7 kiddos). We still have so much fun. Also, it's easier to get away with stuff--harder to track down the culprit--ya know?! My mom used to say, "I guess Mr. Nobody did it" :)

Daisy said...

You might consider Virtual Schooling at some point. The kids are considered enrolled in public school, the school district provides the materials and curriculum, but you do the actual hands-on teaching.

Brianna Heldt said...

hmm virtual schooling sounds interesting. i think i will do a blogpost soon about my thoughts/questions/concerns about homeschooling vs public schooling.

darci said...

loved your post. we get funny looks bc i am pregnant with our third, reallly! people really do look at more than 2 as big. giggle, wait til they see us in a few years. my husband is still coming to terms with the fact that i told him we will end up with at least 6, let alone 20. :)
ahh homeschooling. you know, i think as your first commenter suggested to blog on it just for the sake of blogging on it can only stir up flames. as a homeschooler, i get tired of reading/hearing people spout off about it..sorry, it is just not a moral issue, in my opinion, and to each their own. but good luck if you brave the waters..I will just say that as a homeschooler it is not a decision we just came to one was after, literally, years of prayer. :) darci

Brianna Heldt said...

interesting thoughts darci. my posting on it would probably just be to share my thought process to get to the place i'm at now, which is to do the public school thing (i really wouldn't want to stir anything up!). i know it gets sooooooo tiring feeling like you have to defend your choice and your position. funny how in some circles, that's probably how it feels for parents sending their kids to public school.

DEFINITELY not a moral issue!!!! It's too bad some make it out to be, however.

Erin said...

As a mom of 10, my advice is not to plan!!! We were DONE quite a few times now, and God has had other plans for us.

One of my biggest concerns is making sure all of my kids are having all of their needs met, emotional needs especially. After each adoption we've reassessed and decided we could handle "one more". I think we're just about done...I have a feeling we'll end up with one or two more (but then again, I am done trying to plan it out.) :)

I love having a big family, and my kids love it too. If my kids were like, "no more!" then we would definitely be done, because it would tell me they weren't getting what they need. But they all are happy and all ask all the time when we are going to adopt again. IKES! :)

For what it is worth ,it was definitely harder when I had 3 or 4 very young kids, than it is now with 10 of all ages. I remember having 4 under 5 years old and thinking there was NO WAY we'd ever have more. Ha.

Thanks for your blog Brianna! I don't get to comment often because I try to limit my computer time, but I do check in and love all that you have to say. I think you'll be an awesome mom to a big old crew like mine. :)



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