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!