4 Ways Parenthood is Different When Your “Family Plan” Looks Like the Duggars’.
Parenthood is a challenge no matter your number. The family that has only one child has a handful. This post isn’t to shine a spotlight on families like mine to say, “Look how much harder we have it.” If anything, I just hope it’s a bit of an eye-opener. Our “family plan” (or lack thereof) is pretty counter cultural, and most people don’t really know how to relate to us.
So here’s 4 ways life is different for us that just might give you a little insight:
- There is no short answer to questions like, “How many kids do you want to have?
Our go-to answer for the grocery store check out line is, “As many as God wants us to have.” That answer covers it well enough. We do feel a little pious sounding, but it’s nearly impossible to give a short answer that sounds like anything but. We usually get confused faces and responses like, “So you’re gonna have like 20?! Wow!” We usually just laugh it off, because most people aren’t looking for a sermon, but it’s so much more complicated than that.
Sure, we could have 20. It’s fairly unlikely, but possible. It’s also possible that after this 3rd child, despite our willingness to have more, the Lord could decide not to bless us with any more. In that instance, unless we win the lottery (without actually playing it), and are able to afford to adopt a bus load of children, on the outside we’ll look just like every other family. No one will be able to tell (unless they read this here blog post) just how different we are. And in humility we’ll have to accept that and bless the Lord for it.
Otherwise, sure. Anywhere between 3 and 20. Your guess is as good as mine. (Not that we would stop even at 20…)
2. On the flip side, we have a hard time knowing how to respond to you when you tell us you’re “waiting a few years”, or you think “2 or 3’s the most we could handle.”
We know what things we were blessed enough to hear in the past that encouraged us to trust the Lord with how many children we have, but we know that not everyone will receive those things the same way we did. We also know that although you made us privy to that personal information, how you plan your family remains none of our business.
So we’ll usually just silently and awkwardly smile back at you and assume the subject is about to change. We’re open to sharing with anyone our reasons for doing life the way we do, but we do our best to wait to be asked.
3. When people tell us to “Just hang in there,” because, “things get easier once you get past the terrible two’s” (or other difficult developmental phases), this means absolutely nothing to us.
Because, sure, our 2-year-old won’t always be 2. But when she’s FINISHED being 2, her younger brother will START being 2. And when he’s done being 2, the baby I’m pregnant with now will get their turn to be the household terrorizer.
From the newborn baby with the gassy stomach phase to those dramatic teenager years, there’s not a single phase we can plan on just “getting through.” For us, each phase is something to be mastered. We need to grow accustomed to it. Because while the Lord may have other plans for us, there’s a real possibility that 20 years from now, I will still be dealing with the terrible two’s.
4. We anticipate being busy for at least the next 37 years…but probably even beyond that.
Retirement? Empty nest? What ARE these concepts?
There’s no such thing as, “Maybe once the children are a little older we could take up -this hobby- or -that hobby-.” If we really care about doing something, we have to learn how make it fit into our lives. We’re learning to accept that if we don’t have room for something NOW, we probably NEVER will.
So we do things with our small children that might get us funny looks. I’ve sat and nursed babies in places that seem totally off the wall. I don’t get a babysitter to go get groceries on my own even if I am big and pregnant and feel pity from people as I waddle by with my two fussing toddlers in the cart. If we wait to participate in activities we care about, we might die waiting.
Some things might get easier once the children are old enough to help out more, but relationships themselves take time. And surely, SURELY, their relationships are worth our time :).
So there’s just 4 of the many ways life is different for us. Any other families like us out there that have anything to add? We’re only now getting ready for number 3, so I’d love to hear from those of you further along on the journey! I’m positive we have lots to learn from you :).