The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Big Family?

on July 5, 2012

My boss walked into the office this morning and informed me that he had good news.  He sited this recent study and informed me that I should never catch a cold again.  He was kidding of course although for a moment I wondered if he was going to whip out the study the next time I call in sick. Of course I rarely call in sick for myself because I am rarely sick. (Hey – they might be on to something here!)  What I found  more amusing was that he pointed out the part of the study that says the more children you have the less likely you are to catch a cold.  The implication is that I have enough kids that I should be permanently immune.  It isn’t the first time someone has referenced the “largeness” of my family.  We have four kids.  Not exactly the Duggar family but a few more than the average 2.3 children. (Whatever a .3 child is.)  It made me start wondering what qualifies a family as being “big”?

When I think of big families ours doesn’t qualify.  My grandmother was one of nine children.  My mother-in-law one of seven.  There were a couple of families in the town where I grew up who had nine or more kids.  Those are big families.  My mom has two sisters and a brother. My father-in-law has three sisters.  I have a brother and a sister and we had a foster-sister who lived with us for many years.  See? Four is “normal” to me.  Apparently it isn’t to a lot of people.  When my kids were younger and I’d go somewhere with all of them in tow we’d get funny looks.  Once I heard a woman mutter, “Geez! Have a kid.” Thanks.  I did.  Another time we were walking with our troop to our hotel room when I heard the lady behind us say to her husband, “Great!”  They had the room next door.  (As a side note: my kids were the quietest they have ever been that night.  I had a point to prove.)  Once as we were leaving a  restaurant the hostess sweetly inquired, “Did you get everyone?”  Ummm…I think I can remember how many kids I walked in with.  I have never left one of my kids somewhere.  I make them count off when we get to the car. Well…I used to anyway.

My cousin, who has one child, once said to me, “I don’t know how you keep up with four kids. We have trouble keeping up with one.”  At the time their son was two.  I laughed at him.    “Well.” I said, “I had them one at a time so it wasn’t like I had more than one two-year-old running around.”   Far from it in fact.  Our oldest was just short of his eleventh birthday when our youngest was born.  The first three are all a little over three years apart and there is a little more than four years between the last two.   In all honesty I didn’t plan for it to be that way. It’s just the way it happened.  It worked for us, but I can’t say that I highly recommend it for everyone. There are benefits and disadvantages to everything.  My kids each got to be the baby for at least three years. That was great except for it means now my kids are all participating in different activities because they are at different stages in life.  I’ve had four kids in four different schools for the last three years.  Okay…the last two years one of them was college which doesn’t require remembering when parent teacher conferences are, but still. I never had two kids in diapers at the same time.  That sounds great until you think about the fact that I had someone in diapers or potty training with very short breaks for about 14 years.  Having them so far apart has meant that the younger ones have had built-in babysitters. Great advantage for parents.  It also means that I still carry a shout wipe with me in case someone spits up or spills.  My “baby” is ten. Some habits set in for life.

Back to what was supposed to the point of this blog: What does constitute a big family?  I guess that by today’s standards our family qualifies. It seems normal to us but that may just be that we are used to it by now.  We’ve been at this parenting thing for a long time and we aren’t near the end yet.  It occurred to us not very long ago that by the time our youngest graduates from high school and moves out to go to college we will have had at least one child in our house for 30 years.  I’m hoping by then my husband learns to love left-overs because I’m guessing that after 30 years I’ll never remember how to cook for just two people.  I may be too tired to cook by then.  After 30 years of kids in our house I’m just hoping we’re both still sane.  But…hey….we’ll never get colds…right??



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