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My Honest Feelings on Having Big Families

Hi, friends! Today I would like to share with you my honest feelings about what it’s like having a big family. As you may already know, I have 5 beautiful children. That may sound like a lot to some people, but I grew up in a fairly large family. I come from a family of 10, so I always knew I wanted a big family. I Because I got married at the age of 30, I wanted to start my family right away. I never thought I would need to use NFP. I was hoping to have a honeymoon baby!

(NFP stands for Natural Family Planning. Catholics don’t use artificial birth control. We remain open to God’s will. When finances, physical health, mental health, etc. stand in the way of getting pregnant, we use NFP.)

It took us two years to get pregnant with our first child, although the rest came fairly quickly. Some of my pregnancies came with challenges. All of my babies have been c-sections, and I was pregnant with my second only fifteen months are having had my first. I had to learn NFP during this time to space out my c-sections and give my body time to heal. I was hoping to delay my next pregnancy since we were to be going overseas. Well, my third baby was a Creighton blessing! I was very nervous about having him while we were living in China, away from family and friends.

I have also experienced two miscarriages. I actually became pregnant with one child only 2-3 weeks after a miscarriage, so I was still mourning while I was pregnant. During that particular pregnancy I was 41, and I was sick a lot.  Going through these challenges and having so many close together was hard but also very fulfilling. I think that people tend to forget hard things can be fulfilling.

Our culture tells us that it’s too hard to have a big family, but hardest time in my life was, ironically, when I had two children. At the time, I didn’t live by any family, and my husband was in school full time pursuing his masters degree. Jacob needed me all the time, and I found myself wondering when I would have a normal life again. I thought it would always be hard; I had no idea it was going to get easier.

The world tells us not to lose ourselves when we become mothers, that we need to focus on ourselves. While it is possible to lose yourself in motherhood, to lose sight of who you were before you had children, it’s not always a bad thing. I think there is something so holy and so beautiful about losing yourself for a time, about being so completely selfless. Think about it — you’ll have the rest of your life to do what you want to do.  Right now, you get to pour yourself completely into your vocation.

Of course, we should seek balance. You do need to take care of yourself if you are going to care for others. You can not pour from an empty cup. But we must be careful with this — self care can easily become a very selfish thing if we are putting our children last. 

I would encourage you to really dive into motherhood. Embrace it! And if it’s really hard, that’s okay. It will get easier. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are in the thick of everything, but your children will get older and become more independent. 

One of the biggest advantages of having a large family is that children will entertain each other. My oldest child was 9 when I last gave birth, and he was so helpful. In fact, the older kids help out so much that is has almost been easier with 5.  

Of course, having a large family does come with it’s own challenges. Children will fight and make messes. Having a messy house is actually one of my biggest struggles because I feel like I am constantly cleaning, but I have realized that this is how we grow in holiness. This is how we become saints, by caring for our children.

The world says we will be happier when we get what we want, but I think we are the most fulfilled when we are pleasing God and serving others. Just take a look at women who have pursued every dream except having children. Interviews with famous and successful women have shown that they always regret one thing — not having children. 

So for all you mamas out there in the trenches, have hope! The best gift you can give your children is an amazing marriage and more siblings. 

If you’re in need of encouragement or you have advice for other moms, leave a comment below! 

In Christ,

Heather Johnson

8 Responses

  1. Hi! Heather, I just read your blog article and wanted to say that you are such an inspiration to young Moms’ … My family are grown now and I get such enjoyment reading your posts, it takes me back ???? to those days … Thank-you!! for sharing!! … God’s Blessings to you and your family ????✝️❤️

  2. ‘I think that people tend to forget hard things can be fulfilling.’

    Thank you, Heather! This quote and this whole post resonated with me. I currently have a 2 year old and a 2.5 month old. After having our first, I told my husband that having a child was both the hardest and the best thing I have ever done, which I still believe. Some days at the moment just feel like survival mode – some days are a dream – but without fail, every single night I go to bed feeling fulfilled despite how difficult or easy the day was and so grateful to be blessed with raising these gorgeous souls. We can do hard things and there is often so much beauty that comes out of the hard.

    God bless from Australia!

  3. Some are not able to gave children, adoption is not cheap.
    Some only have one and can not have any after for medical reasons..
    I have been judged for 26 years because I was only able to gave one…Worst part, alot that judged me, are Catholic

    1. I have friends who feel the same way, I am sorry to hear that Catholic’s are judging you. The point of the blog is to be open and except God’s Holy will, no matter what that might be.

    2. Yes very true. I’m an only child (female) of a Catholic mother who divorced my dad when I was a baby for good reasons. Honestly, the worst judges are Catholic in this aspect of small families and only children. Most of the time as an only child and even as an adult I do not find community with Catholic people because they prefer larger families and younger women who are engaged, married, and have or are starting families over those like myself still working on careers (but still open to marriage etc.)

  4. I just want to thank you for this article! my husband and I were talking about what it really means to be open to more children and to trust God with our family size. We were struggling with the idea of having free will but also letting God bless us with however many children he chooses. mentally I was scared of ending up with 15 kids with this mentality but He has shown us in His perfect timing that He is in control. Right now we have 4 amazing kids ages 5 to 5 months. It really is our culture that tells us it’s too hard to have a lot of kids. it’s easy to trick ourselves to use NFP to avoid pregnancy because I want to selfishly control every season of our lives, and Im scared of how sick I will be (i always get bad morning sickness). It’s easy to convince ourselves that being tired is a ‘grave reason’s avoid pregnancy but it isn’t. Like you said, hard things can be fulfilling. and just because we are open to life, doesn’t mean I will end up pregnant every month! Anyway, all that to say your article was really helpful in inviting me to be more open to God’s plan. So thank you!

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Hi, I’m Heather! Welcome to this blog! I’m a Catholic YouTuber, wife, and mother to 5 beautiful children ages 3-12. My greatest joy is my vocation of being a wife, mother, homemaker, and home chef. My YouTube ministry is where I love spreading hope, joy, and encouraging all to love Christ with their whole hearts.

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