We have five kids. We are in the process of our second adoption, so this summer we will have six. Yes, you read that right, six kids. Six little people to feed, clothe, drive to practice, and upon occasion, enjoy.
People love to ask if we have six kids on purpose. They try to ask in a nice way. Is there a nice way to ask that question? In those moments, I mentally roll my eyes and look for the exit. But not before taking a moment to educate them on a few things.
First, having kids is not like catching a cold. I don’t need to know how it happens, and I don’t need advice on how to properly wash my hands. Second, having a lot of kids is not a bad thing. Somewhere along the way, our society seems to have forgotten that kids are pretty great, aside from all the pee, poop, and snot, of course. And third, considering that two of our (almost six) kids are adopted, yes, we did this on purpose. We did this to ourselves! And we are happy about it.
The truth about having any kids
The truth about having any kids is that your life is over. You aren’t dead. But, your life doesn’t belong to you anymore; it belongs to them. Your time is their time. Your space is their space. Your stuff, yep, you guessed it, is their stuff.
With your life being over and all, it’s all about coping. For example, I love to write. I love to write without being interrupted. That means I can write very early in the morning, or I can get over myself and write amid the chaos of being interrupted every 5-minutes and having to regain my train of thought over and over and, what was I saying?
Having even one kid means you become a master of focus and determination. If you didn’t have focus, you couldn’t even dress yourself. And, without determination, that diaper would never make it on, even if it is backward and inside out some of the time.
The truth about having five (almost 6) kids
Having a bunch of kids is like having just one kid, except that everything is multiplied. Two kids aren’t quite twice the chaos; it’s more like twice the chaos with a little rage, self-pity, and tears mixed into it. And it multiplies from there.
With our number of kids, the distractions are higher, with interruptions coming much more consistently. In writing the first 400 words of this article, I have been interrupted at least five times, and honestly, that’s not that bad by our family’s standards.
We also distract others when we voyage out into the world. Patrons cower in fear when we are seated in restaurants, hoping we don’t join their section. We are a spectacle when unloading the car, reminding people of a clown car, with person after person coming out. Except that when our crew exits the car, it may not be laugher that echos through the warm spring air.
Even though I make jokes, the reality of having almost six kids isn’t that much different from when we had two. Your definition of busy changes. Your time alone diminishes. You learn to exist for the benefit and support of others as your primary goal. And, in the midst of all of that, the kids learn to help themselves and each other.
Starting around five, our kids can make their breakfast and lunch. They can dress, tie their shoes, and get ready for bed on their own. By six, our kids can clean the kitchen. That involves unloading and loading the dishwasher, wiping down the table and counters, and sweeping the floor. The older kids also help the younger ones, learning how to care for others.
Maybe that sounds crazy. It works. The only way to keep our home in order is to work on it as a team. If my wife and I were the only people cleaning, it would be a full-time job. Instead, our kids take care of themselves, their rooms, wash their clothes, and clean common areas of the house. When you have a family our size, keeping a home in order is a team sport.
The final thing I want you to know about what it’s like to have five (almost six) kids is that its wonderful. Every day is fresh and new and filled with adventure. Every kid is challenging and loving and beautiful. And, getting to be a parent is the most refining, self-improving, and fulfilling thing I have ever done.
Raising six kids is the greatest thing I will do in my lifetime. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
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